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It is a great pleasure to announce that the Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) is emerging as a respected important area of research across the globe and it is now included in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Abnormal and Clinical Psychology (2017) authored by Amy Wenzel - University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, USA.

Reward deficiency syndrome is a psychological theory first noted by Prof. Kenneth Blum in 1996. It is characterized by reward-seeking behavior and/or addictions, stemming from genetic variations, most notably resulting from those carrying the D2A1 allele. People carrying the A1 allele tend to have insufficient numbers of D2 receptors in their brain, resulting in lack of pleasure and reward from activities that would provide others with pleasure. This can result in addiction, mood disorders, compulsions, impulsivity, and other spectrum disorders.

Since the normal “pleasure” neurotransmitters such as dopamine are lower among these individuals, they don’t feel as good as they should from normal activities. This leads them to seek out more extreme thrills such as addictive drugs or behaviors like gambling.

The RDS concept embraced by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) in the new definition of addiction has appeared in encyclopedias and has been used globally in hundreds of peer-reviewed articles.

Examples of disorders influenced by this allele include (but are not limited to): ADHD, compulsive eating, obesity, pathological gambling, and Tourette’s syndrome. Although there may be multiple genetic factors that contribute, Prof. Kenneth Blum has determined that RDS is more likely among those with a specific A1 allele.

A recent comment by one of our board members Brett Haberstick:

This is a timely and interesting review article that should provide a nice introduction to several active areas of research as it relates to sex addiction, drug use and their possible biological correlates. From a gene finding perspective individual differences in sexual activity may be a useful phenotype to understand how genes contribute to variation within populations for sexual behavior and drug use behaviors; either together or individually. Although adopting such a perspective is still not widespread, doing so may ultimately lend itself to greater insight into the substantial medical and public health issues caused by promiscuity and addiction. The novelty of this review article is the inclusion of withdrawal. Withdrawal is often an important aspect of whether those attempting to quit chronic drug use relapse and, as the review points out, hasn't really been fully investigated respective to sex addiction. A wider literature review could have been included, nonetheless, it should serve as a good introduction for future research on these topics, and more generally reward deficiency syndrome.

Hillemacher T, Frieling H, Buchholz V, Hussein R, Bleich S, Meyer C, John U, Bischof A, Rumpf HJ Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2015 May 28. pii: S0278-5846(15)00122-0. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2015.05.013. [Epub ahead of print].