Can you be addicted to running? The word is often bandied about among runners, half joking half serious. To meet the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders) diagnosis for substance (alcohol and drug) dependence a person must exhibit a cluster of specific symptoms all within the same year. Neither the DSM-IV bible of mental disorders nor the International Classification for Disorders (ICD-9) has a primary category for exercise addiction.
For fun, I have taken the liberty of modifying the DSM substance dependence criteria to create my own diagnostic category for “Running Addiction”. In keeping with the DSM model, three or more of the following seven symptoms occurring in a twelve month time period indicates a maladaptive pattern of running.
- Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
(a) A need for markedly increased amounts of running to achieve runner’s high or desired effect.
(b) Markedly diminished effect with continued running at the same frequency/intensity.
- Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
(a) Withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, guilt, anxiety, or psychomotor agitation.
(b) Participating in similar activities to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- Running at greater intensity or duration than was intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control frequency/intensity of running.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to run (such as visiting doctors/physiotherapists/massage therapists/chiropractors/acupuncturists or driving long distances to get to a run), actually running, or recover from the effects of running.
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of running.
- Running is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by running.
Humm. This is not good. Not good at all. I think I will rename this affliction “Running Passion” instead of “Running Addiction”. I feel better already.
Title Reference: Amy Winehouse – Rehab. From the album Back to Black. 2006.