Sex addiction and gambling disorder: similarities and differences (2015)

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Compr Psychiatry. 2015 Jan;56:59-68. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2014.10.002.

Farré JM1, Fernández-Aranda F2, Granero R3, Aragay N4, Mallorquí-Bague N1, Ferrer V1, More A1, Bouman WP5, Arcelus J6, Savvidou LG7, Penelo E8, Aymamí MN7, Gómez-Peña M7, Gunnard K9, Romaguera A10, Menchón JM11, Vallès V4, Jiménez-Murcia S12.



Recently, the DSM-5 has developed a new diagnostic category named "Substance-related and Addictive Disorders". This category includes gambling disorder (GD) as the sole behavioral addiction, but does not include sex addiction (SA). The aim of this study is to investigate whether SA should be classified more closely to other behavioral addictions, via a comparison of the personality characteristics and comorbid psychopathology of individuals with SA with those of individuals with GD, which comes under the category of addiction and related disorders.


The sample included 59 patients diagnosed with SA, who were compared to 2190 individuals diagnosed with GD and to 93 healthy controls. Assessment measures included the Diagnostic Questionnaire for Pathological Gambling, the South Oaks Gambling Screen, the Symptom CheckList-90 Items-Revised and the Temperament and Character Inventory-Revised.


No statistically significant differences were found between the two clinical groups, except for socio-economic status. Although statistically significant differences were found between both clinical groups and controls for all scales on the SCL-90, no differences were found between the two clinical groups. The results were different for personality characteristics: logistic regression models showed that sex addictive behavior was predicted by a higher education level and by lower scores for TCI-R novelty-seeking, harm avoidance, persistence and self-transcendence. Being employed and lower scores in cooperativeness also tended to predict the presence of sex addiction.


While SA and GD share some psychopathological and personality traits that are not present in healthy controls, there are also some diagnostic-specific characteristics that differentiate between the two clinical groups. These findings may help to increase our knowledge of phenotypes existing in behavioral addictions.