Pharmacological Treatment of Behavioral Addictions

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Certain substance use disorders, such as nicotine, opioid, and alcohol use disorders, have efficacious pharmacotherapies (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014). Medications for these disorders largely target neurotransmitter systems affected by the substance of abuse. Behavioral addictions, in contrast, do not involve ingestion of any substance, and their neurophysiology remains elusive. To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any medication to treat a behavioral addiction. However, initial experimental trials of medications for gambling disorder and other putative behavioral addictions have been conducted. In this chapter, we review research on pharmacotherapy for gambling disorder, Internet gaming disorder, and Internet addiction. We also briefly discuss treatments for other potential behavioral addictions (e.g., shopping, eating), although much less data exist on these conditions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)