A field of opium poppies in Burma.

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Prevalence of the Addictions: A Problem of the Majority or the Minority?

An increasing number of research studies over the last three decades suggest that a wide range of substance and process addictions may serve similar functions.

The current article considers 11 such potential addictions

  • tobacco,
  • alcohol,
  • illicit drugs,
  • eating,
  • gambling,
  • Internet,
  • love,
  • sex,
  • exercise,
  • work, and
  • shopping,

Their prevalence, and co-occurrence, based on a systematic review of the literature. Data from 83 studies (each study n = at least 500 subjects) were presented and supplemented with small-scale data.

Depending on which assumptions are made, overall;

  • 12-month prevalence of an addiction among U.S. adults varies from 15% to 61%.
  • The authors assert that it is most plausible that 47% of the U.S. adult population suffers from maladaptive signs of an addictive disorder over a 12-month period and
  • that it may be useful to think of addictions as due to problems of lifestyle as well as to person-level factors.

Eval Health Prof March 2011 vol. 34 no. 1 3-56