Short-term abstinence effects across potential behavioral addictions: a systematic review

Fernandez, D.P. ORCID: 0000-0001-7645-9959, Kuss, D.J. ORCID: 0000-0001-8917-782X and Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524, 2020. Short-term abstinence effects across potential behavioral addictions: a systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review, p. 101828. ISSN 0272-7358

1283803_Griffiths.pdf - Post-print

Download (891kB) | Preview


Observing short-term abstinence effects across potential behavioral addictions is vital for informing understanding about how addiction-related symptoms (withdrawal, craving and relapse) might manifest across these behaviors. Short-term abstinence may also have potential as a clinical intervention for behavioral addictions. This review aimed to synthesize existing research evidence on short-term abstinence effects across potential behavioral addictions in light of (1) manifestations of withdrawal, craving and relapse, and (2) benefits or counterproductive consequences of abstinence. We reviewed 47 prospective studies examining effects of short-term abstinence across six potential behavioral addictions (exercise, gambling, gaming, mobile phone use, pornography use, social media use). Findings of the review showed that there is a paucity of prospective studies investigating abstinence effects in relation to potential behavioral addictions, except for exercise. Across all behaviors, exercise demonstrated the clearest pattern of withdrawal-related symptoms mainly related to mood disturbances. While withdrawal and craving were investigated to a fair extent across the studies, the study of relapse using abstinence protocols is underutilized within behavioral addiction research. Short-term abstinence shows promise as an intervention for some problematic behaviors, especially gaming, pornography use, mobile phone use, and social media use. However, potential counterproductive consequences of abstinence (e.g., rebound effects and compensatory behaviors) were not adequately assessed by the studies, which limits current evaluation of the utility of abstinence as an intervention.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Clinical Psychology Review
Creators: Fernandez, D.P., Kuss, D.J. and Griffiths, M.D.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: 3 February 2020
ISSN: 0272-7358
S0272735820300167Publisher Item Identifier
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 04 Feb 2020 12:04
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2022 03:00

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year