Behavioral Addictions

  1. Article SummaryPrint
  2. Causes of Behavioral Addiction
  3. Signs and Symptoms of Behavioral Addiction
  4. Types of Behavioral Addictions
  5. Treatment for Behavioral Health Problems

The term "behavioral addiction" isn't always considered to be the same as an addiction to substances like drugs or alcohol. However, if you consider that addiction means using a substance repeatedly over a period of time, despite being fully aware of the negative consequences, the two are actually very similar. Treatment programs for behavioral addictions view the dependency on certain behaviors such as gambling, sex or Internet gaming in the same way they would view an addiction to cocaine or alcohol.

For assistance with behavioral addiction call us toll free at 1-800-928-9139 to discuss your behavioral addiction treatment options.Calls are confidential, and the lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.You can also click here to contact us by email for more information.

Did you know?

Behavioral addictions are classified as process addictions and include activities like sex, gambling, spending and exercising. Drug and alcohol addictions are classified as substance addictions. The difference lies in what you are addicted to. With a behavioral addiction, it is often the process or the procedure involved in the activity that you become addicted to.

Causes of Behavioral Addiction

depressionBehavioral addictions often have the same symptoms as drug addiction and alcoholism. This is because certain behaviors can alter your mood or emotional state by creating a euphoric feeling. This euphoria is the result of serotonin or adrenalin released in the brain when you engage in an addictive activity. The brain then tries to recreate this high despite any negative consequences related to it. Behavioral disorder treatments focus on the resulting need to repeatedly have the experience and the compulsion that accompanies it.

Did you know?

If you perform an addictive activity on a regular basis,you may form a tolerance to the euphoric state that results. This means that you will have to engage in the activity more often or increase the intensity of the activity so that you can achieve the desired effect. With behavioral addictions, this often means adding more risk to increase dopamine levels.

 

Behavioral addiction can include one of several activities that are part of most people’s everyday lives, such as video games, gambling, sex or food. When you are unable to control or stop the activity, this indicates a possible addiction to it.

Signs and Symptoms of Behavioral Addiction

As with addiction to substances like alcohol, behavioral addictions are visible through several symptoms and signs. Typically behavioral addiction treatment may be necessary if you experience one or more of the following signs of behavioral addiction:

  • Increasing the frequency in which you engage in the behavior or engaging for a longer period of time than you initially intended.
  • Constant need to engage in the behavior.
  • One or more failed efforts to stop, reduce or control the behavior.
  • Majority of your time is spent engaging in the behavior, arranging to engage in the behavior, or recovering from the effects.
  • Preoccupation with the behavior itself or with the actions required to prepare for it.
  • Neglecting other obligations such as work, school or family so that you can engage in the behavior more often.
  • Isolating yourself so that it is easier to engage in the behavior without friends or family knowing about it.
  • Continuing to engage in the behavior despite negative consequences.
  • Increasing the intensity or frequency of the behavior to achieve the same effect. Restlessness, irritability, hostility or anxiety if you are unable to engage in the behavior.

Did you know?

Stopping a behavioral addiction by sheer force of will alone is often ineffective because you have to learn how to replace addictive behaviors with healthier ones. Part of that includes changing the way you think and sometimes who you socialize with. This requires support and encouragement that is often only available through addiction treatment programs.

Behavioral addiction treatment begins with admitting that you have a problem. Denial is a key factor that you must overcome. For assistance with behavioral addiction call us toll free at 1-800-928-9139 to discuss your behavioral addiction treatment options.Calls are confidential, and the lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.You can also click here to contact us by email for more information.

Types of Behavioral Addictions

A behavioral addiction can occur with several everyday activities. The compulsion is not limited to certain types of behaviors or people. However, there are some behavioral addictions that are more commonly seen than most.

Love

love addictionLove addiction is often believed to focus on love and feelings of affection when it is rarely about love. It has more to do with the person's need to be in a relationship or to remain with another person no matter what the personal cost. He or she will often try to become what he or she believes is what the object of his or her affection wants. This means that he or she may tolerate negative behaviors from that person,such as abuse. Another form of love addiction includes those who can't let go of a relationship. This type of addiction can lead to obsession and stalking.

Gambling

Gambling is a behavioral addiction that closely resembles drug addiction in signs and symptoms. Like a drug addict, a compulsive gambler lives from fix to fix, ignoring the consequences and placing all of his or her hopes on the next card or the next championship playoff. The cravings that gambling addiction can cause are as intense as drug cravings.

Food

Food can cause compulsive overeating and binging that may govern your life in the same manner that drug addiction can. Researchers have found that dopamine deficiency in the brain can contribute to the desire or compulsion to eat in order to activate the production of dopamine.

Sex and Pornography

Sex and pornography addictions are behavioral addictions that have limited research to explain how they develop and why. Sex and pornography addicts often display the same behaviors found in other addictions, such as obsessively thinking about sex, feeling powerless to stop the craving or compulsion for sex or porn, and altering their lives to accommodate their addiction.

Shopping

There is limited research available on behavioral addictions like shopping, but it is clear that the compulsive need to engage in this behavior can have negative, life-altering effects. Shopping can cause highs and crashes similar to those a drug addict experiences. It also results in mental health issues such as depression, guilt, anxiety and fatigue.

Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction treatment is necessary when playing games is no longer a fun way to spend your free time and becomes more important to you than work, school and friends.If you're playing video games nonstop and have trouble reducing or stopping the behavior, you may need behavioral disorder treatment.

Did you know?

A person who is addicted to a behavior or activity builds a psychological dependence on the behavior in a similar way that an alcoholic becomes dependent on alcohol.

Behavioral addiction treatment focuses primarily on the psychological elements of addiction.Part of this focus is given to the causes of behavioral addictions.If you or someone you know is struggling with a behavioral addiction, call us toll free at 1-800-928-9139 to discuss your behavioral addiction treatment options.Calls are confidential, and the lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also click here to contact us by email for more information.

Treatment for Behavioral Health Problems

Behavioral addiction treatment and rehabilitation presents a challenge in many cases because unlike drugs or alcohol, sometimes abstaining or detoxing from the addictive behavior is impossible. For example, a person who is addicted to overeating cannot cut food out of his or her life. For this reason, some types of behavioral addiction treatment programs focus primarily on rehabilitation and recovery rather than detoxification or abstinence.

"...these treatment programs focus on helping the patient to develop healthier ways of dealing with life and the pressures that accompany it."Behavioral addiction treatment programs address the psychological issues faced by the patient.A behavioral addiction rehabilitation program that is carried out in an inpatient rehab facility is often highly effective in treating the addiction. Typically these treatment programs focus on helping the patient to develop healthier ways of dealing with life and the pressures that accompany it.

Outpatient behavioral addiction treatment is also available from both public and privately funded facilities. This treatment typically involves visiting a treatment facility or medical professional daily at first and then scaling back these visits to weekly or monthly as the patient progresses through his or her recovery program.
 

Whether you choose to receive behavioral addiction treatment from an inpatient or outpatient facility, it is vital that the program addresses the patterns of behavior and the emotional issues surrounding your addiction.In most behavioral addiction treatment facilities, more than one form of counseling is often recommended.

One-on-One Counseling

Individual or one-on-one counseling focuses on the emotional issues that often contribute to the behavioral addiction. One-on-one counseling provides the patient a chance to privately voice concerns that he or she may not be comfortable speaking about with others in a group setting.

Behavioral and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

In many inpatient behavioral addiction treatment programs, successful rehabilitation includes behavioral therapy that focuses on eliminating unhealthy or negative behaviors by replacing them with positive, healthier ones. Behavioral therapy utilizes rewards like positive reinforcement to encourage and strengthen healthy behavior, which aids in long-term recovery. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches new behavioral patterns as well, but the focus is usually on the motivations behind the behavior rather than the physical actions. The goal of cognitive-behavioral therapy is to change or modify the thought processes that led to the behavioral addiction.

Family Therapy

Behavioral addiction treatment often requires that family and/or friends also undergo therapy along with the patient to ensure a successful recovery from the addiction. Family counseling can help family members rebuild relationships and focus on healthy behaviors and interactions.

Group Therapy

Group therapy provides the patient a private setting where he or she is able to discuss, and then work on personal addiction issues with peers who share similar experiences.This type of therapy allows the patient to share his or her experiences with other patients who are also undergoing behavioral addiction treatment.Denial is a key factor with any behavioral addiction and it is vital to recovery that this be overcome. Many behavioral addiction treatment centers include 12-step recovery programs that allow people with similar addictions to break free of the isolation and guilt that often accompany behavioral addiction, and to learn new coping skills.
group-therapy
No matter which type of behavioral addiction rehab facility you choose, it is essential to your long-term recovery that at least one form of counseling is provided.

The type of behavioral addiction treatment program you'll require will depend on the type of behavior you are addicted to. For example, a gambling addiction requires abstinence as part of the treatment program, but overeating requires relearning behaviors so that you can modify and control your eating. The facility you choose will assess your situation and your addiction, and then determine the most effective behavioral addiction treatment for your unique circumstances.

Both public and private behavioral addiction treatment facilities offer qualified medical supervision and support during the rehab process, but a private facility can sometimes offer additional privacy and seclusion for patients who wish to keep knowledge of their rehab and recovery limited to their immediate family and friends.

The first step in this long-term recovery is contacting someone for information on how to begin your behavioral addiction rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is addicted to or has developed a dependency on a certain behavior, call us toll free at 1-800-928-9139 to discuss your behavioral addiction treatment options. Calls are confidential, and the lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also click here to contact us by email for more information.