What is Behavioral Addiction?
Like dependence on drugs and alcohol, behavioral addiction can be damaging to every aspect of someone’s life. Many addicts and alcoholics struggle with behavioral addiction both in and out of recovery. So, what is a behavioral addiction, and why is it so dangerous?
Behavioral addiction, also called process addiction, occurs when someone compulsively engages in a behavior that impacts their ability to function. Like drugs and alcohol, people can become addicted to the pleasurable effects of things like gambling, sex, and shopping. When someone is unable to stop these behaviors, even when they start to become damaging, they may be experiencing a behavioral addiction.
Types of Behavioral Addiction
Behavioral or process addictions can show up in many forms. These include:
- Compulsive shopping and spending
- Pathological gambling
- Sex and relationship addiction
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors like self-harm
- Food addiction, which can be related to binge eating disorder
- Excessive cosmetic surgery, often related to body dysmorphia
- Compulsive, addictive use of technology, the internet, and gaming
Because of the way our brains process pleasure, reward, and behaviors, individuals can become dependent on multiple different behavioral patterns. Many of these behaviors are a normal part of life; however, for people who struggle with addiction, they can take over. When someone begins to experience financial issues, conflict in relationships, loss of sleep, inability to function, and loss of control over any of these behaviors, they may have crossed the line into behavioral addiction.
The Connection Between Substances and Behaviors
Addicts and alcoholics may be at a higher risk for compulsive, addictive behaviors. The high-risk is because regular use of substances can impact the way the brain processes information. When someone uses drugs addictively, they reinforce “addiction pathways” in the brain. Generally, this makes them more susceptible to addiction- whether it’s to another drug or something like gambling. For many, compulsive behaviors like high-risk sex and gambling go hand-in-hand with drug or alcohol use. For example, someone who drinks each night at the casino may associate alcohol with the rush of betting. In these cases, someone can become addicted to both the substances and the behaviors associated with it.
Unfortunately, in recovery, many people seek a substitution for the rush they used to experience from drugs and alcohol. Thus, it’s crucial to address both issues and avoid substituting one damaging pattern for another.
Treating Addiction Effectively
To get to the root of addiction, rehab centers should offer services that address the whole person. Generally, this involves getting to the heart of negative behaviors, thoughts, and patterns through quality therapy. Thus, to help our patients who struggle with addiction and negative behaviors, we offer comprehensive drug treatment. As a result, we focus on long-term individual therapy and aftercare. Additionally, we focus on life skills development, dual diagnosis treatment, and assisting patients with developing a lifestyle that promotes freedom from drug addiction. So, if you’re looking for a treatment center that addresses your individual, unique concerns, give us a call today for more information.