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What Is a Behavioral Addiction

Behavioral addiction describes behaviors that become problematic and compulsive. The indication of addiction is the consequence of an addiction behavior after it has adversely impacted a person. For example, these effects might appear in their relationships, work, or mental and physical health. Part of the reason that people proceed with addiction behaviors even after they become problematic is illustrated by the brain’s chemical dopamine.

The discharge of dopamine is mainly accountable for the “high” that people experience when they utilize drugs and is also in reaction to particular behaviors. Almost all attitudes that are supposed to have addictive qualities are thought to cause dopamine release. Dopamine builds a vital reward pathway in the brain in reaction to a particular drug or behavior, making it harder to stop.

Types Of Behavioral Addiction

While there is only one formally understood behavioral addiction, the validity of various others is suspected. Some types of addiction have been studied more than others, occurring in more “evidence” to indicate that they exist. Some of the behavioral addictions include:

Gambling Disorder

Gambling disorder is formally comprehended as a behavioral addiction. This disorder is defined by a pattern of compulsive gambling that inclines to become increasingly complicated over time. People with this disorder frequently accrue borrowing money, large gambling debts, pay or provide collateral for other obligations.

They proceed to chase the “high” of placing bets, hazardous ones, persuaded that they will come out on top. In many examples, people with gambling disorder lose more than just wealth but also their jobs, assets, or even relationships.

Food Addiction

Some experimenters believe it is feasible to become addicted to specific kinds of food, mainly processed foods high in sugar, fat, and calories. The notion of food addiction nearly resembles a binge eating disorder. This disorder is characterized by eating large quantities of food in a short amount of time but is not always particular to a specific type of food.

Food addiction is considered an addiction to specific foods that initiate the reward pathways in the mind involved in addiction. This results in loss of control any time these foods, as contradicted to the particular “episodes” common in binge eaters.

Pornography and Sex and Addiction

Sex addiction has been controversial for decades, with fierce debate among specialists who believe that sexual addiction is either apparent or not. Those who believe that sex addiction tends to distinguish it in similar ways as addiction to substances: as a way of problematic and compulsive sexual behaviors.

Porn addiction, on the other hand, is thought to be a subtype of sex addiction and is interpreted as the compulsive use of porn. Use of porn is despite resulting in difficulties to a person, their relationships, or other vital areas of life. Aside from the apparent “symptom” of excessive porn use, other prominent features that may imply porn addiction include an incapacity to perform with real-life partners and sexual disappointment with real-life spouses.

Behavioral Vs. Substance Addiction

Possibly the most apparent difference between behavioral addiction and substance addiction is that those with a substance disorder depend on the consumption of drugs or alcohol to get their ‘fix.’ Contrarily, the behavior of an addict depends on an action or behavior to get their ‘hit.’ Since several impulse disorders do not take the exact physical toll on the body that substances do, they can be concealed with comparative ease. While both behavioral and substance addictions can generate a variety of behavioral addiction withdrawal symptoms, behavioral issues are less inclined to result in the detoxing effects of substance abuse.

Signs And Symptoms of Behavioral Addiction

Because there is only one categorized behavioral addiction, gambling disorder, there is no formal list of indications used for diagnostic bases. Gambling disorder has a few indications more particular to gambling patterns, like placing higher bets, chasing losses, and a structure of borrowing money, but oppositely the indications mirror those of substance use disorders. It is apt that behavioral addictions that are comprehended in the future will also comprise many of the behavioral signs of addiction used to diagnose other addictions. They are:

  • Utilizing more of a substance than planned or for longer than aimed at
  • Encountering symptoms of withdrawal, be it psychological or physical discomfort, when quitting the use of a substance
  • An intention to cut back or stop and last unsuccessful attempts to do so
  • The development of tolerance to a substance 
  • Spending a tremendous deal of time thinking about, using, obtaining, or recovering from the consequences of a substance
  • Continued use despite having an understanding of adverse effects on mental health
  • Cravings or a powerful urge to use the substance
  • Use of the substance in potentially tricky circumstances
  • Periodic use that may interfere with fulfilling primary role obligations
  • Withdrawal from necessary occupational, social, or recreational actions because of time devoted to substance use
  • Lasting use despite experiencing difficulties in essential relationships which are resulted in or worsened by substance use

Treatment Of Behavioral Addictions

Even though numerous of the behavioral addictions listed here are not formally acknowledged as diagnosable situations, a surprising quantity of treatment options for these problems exist. In most communities in the US, it is feasible to find outpatient treatment, individual or group therapy, and even inpatient and residential treatment facilities for behavioral addiction treatment. Some of the more widespread treatment options for behavioral addictions are:


Psychiatric medication is not generally deemed a frontline treatment for behavioral addictions, but some people are inquisitive in exploring their choices. A licensed medical provider can only specify medicines with a valid license and qualifications.

Outpatient Therapy

Outpatient therapy is generally provided by a licensed counselor, or psychologist for treatment of behavioral addiction. Sessions are office-based and could comprise group, individual, or family sessions. It is significant to find a consultant specializing in addiction and to make sure they can deal with behavioral addictions. 

Residential And Inpatient Treatment

This treatment happens in 24-hour facilities that generally are staffed by addiction counselors. People requiring more intensive treatment are to be accountable for changing their behavior might aid from a stay in one of these facilities.

Support Groups

Many communities deliver support groups for addictive behavior treatment. These are casual gatherings of people striving with a common problem and can be a tremendous way to get support from others who have had similar experiences. However, these groups are usually spontaneous, meaning they might not have a professional leading them.

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