Is Trichotillomania an Addiction?
Trichotillomania is classified as a Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB) in the DSM5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition) within the spectrum of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This means that although the compulsive hair pulling behavior is linked with OCD, it is not itself an OCD but better determined with similar conditions in its category.
BFRBs are described by recurrent, direct body-to-body contact, which involuntarily leads to physical harm to the body. The urge to involve in these behaviors is termed as compulsion however some defined the inability to avoid pulling and the irresistible urges to be similar to addiction. According to an estimate, 25 percent of people having BFRB are also addicts.
Incomplete information is an unfortunate yet true phenomenon in both addiction and trichotillomania; the numbers are probably even higher. But it doesn’t mean that trichotillomania or other forms of BFRBs are necessarily addiction, it just points out the co-occurrence of both conditions which can be influenced by some other factors. To know the link between the two, you first need to understand what an addiction is and what compulsion is.
What is addiction?
An addition involves the dependence of an addict on something that causes him/her to act beyond reason or without caring for their own self-care just to satisfy the addiction or their need for that particular thing. On the other hand, compulsion involves something that is performed due to an overwhelming or strong urge that a person feels and unable to control. In compulsion, the functioning is affected negatively but there is no reliance on the behavior.
Mostly compulsions are parts of the addiction but it is not always the case. For instance, OCD constitutes many compulsive behaviors that are not considered addictions. Similarly, an addiction may be transformed into a compulsion once the substance or activity no longer gives pleasure.