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April 11, 2023

What are Behavioral Addictions and How do they Present?

Behavioral addictions begin the same way that drug or alcohol addictions do; neurotransmitters and other natural chemicals flood the brain when an individual engages in a particular activity in an addictive nature. While behavioral addictions don’t cause a physical dependence like substance abuse, people with a behavioral addiction will experience similar adverse consequences and neurological withdrawal symptoms.

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April 11, 2023

Understanding Behavioral Addictions

We all have habits we enjoy and find comforting, whether it's checking social media, playing video games, or indulging in our favorite foods. But for some individuals, these seemingly innocuous behaviors can escalate into addictive patterns that get out of control and negatively affect their health and happiness.

Behavioral addictions, also known as process addictions, are a growing concern in the modern world, where technology and consumerism have made it easier than ever to engage in stimulating yet potentially harmful activities.

In this article, we will explore the various types of behavioral addictions, their causes and symptoms, as well as preventive strategies and available treatments. Whether you're struggling with a behavioral addiction yourself or concerned about a loved one, read on to learn more about this complex and often misunderstood phenomenon.

Common Types of Behavioral Addiction

Behavioral addictions can take many forms, and while some are easy to identify, others can be challenging to diagnose. Some common types of behavioral addictions include:

Food Addiction

Food addiction, also known as binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating, is a type of addiction characterized by recurrent episodes of overeating and loss of control over food consumption. People with food addiction may eat large amounts of food in a short period, feel guilty or ashamed afterward, and hide their behavior from others.

Food addiction can lead to weight gain, physical health problems such as diabetes or heart disease, and psychological problems such as low self-esteem or depression. The disorder is prevalent in the United States, with one in eight Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 showing signs of food addiction.

Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is characterized by a persistent and recurrent pattern of sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors that disrupt daily life. People with sex addiction may engage in risky sexual behaviors, have multiple partners, or spend excessive amounts of time on sexual activities.

Sex addiction can lead to relationship problems, sexually transmitted infections, and legal problems that can significantly impact mental health and well-being.

Gaming addiction is a specific form of internet addiction that involves excessive or compulsive use of video games, often to the detriment of other aspects of life. It can lead to social isolation, poor academic or work performance, and physical health problems such as back pain, eyestrain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

People with video game addiction may play for hours on end, neglecting other responsibilities, and may feel irritable, anxious, or depressed when they try to cut back.

Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction, also known as compulsive buying disorder, is a type of behavioral addiction that results in excessive and uncontrollable buying. People with a shopping addiction may feel a rush of euphoria or excitement when they buy something but then feel guilty or remorseful afterward. They often spend beyond their means and may go into debt by hoarding possessions they do not need.

Shopping addiction affects about 18 million adults in the United States. Some studies indicate that women are more likely to develop this addiction, while others suggest men are at equal risk.

Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is a type of impulse control disorder identified by a persistent and recurrent urge to gamble despite negative consequences. It can take many forms, including casino gambling, sports betting, online wagers, and lottery tickets. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 0.1% and 5.8% of people suffer from “problem gambling”.

People with a gambling addiction may feel restless, irritable, or anxious when they try to stop gambling, and may resort to lying, borrowing money, or committing crimes to support their habit.

Causes of Behavioral Addictions

The exact causes of behavioral addictions are not fully understood, but research suggests that a combination of psychological, genetic, and environmental factors may play a role. Let’s take a closer look at these.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem can contribute to the development of behavioral addictions. People with these conditions may turn to addictive behaviors as a way to cope with negative emotions or seek pleasure and excitement.

Genetic Factors

Research has shown that genetic factors may predispose some individuals to develop behavioral addictions. People with a family history of addiction are more likely to develop an addiction themselves, suggesting that there may be a genetic link to addiction.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors such as exposure to addictive behaviors, peer pressure, and trauma can also contribute to developing behavioral addictions. For instance, people who grow up in households where gambling or substance abuse is prevalent may be more likely to develop a gambling or substance addiction themselves.

Symptoms of Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral addictions can be difficult to recognize as they often take different forms without obvious physical manifestations. There are, however, some common symptoms that indicate a behavioral addiction, such as:

  • The individual spends a lot of time thinking about and planning their next opportunity to engage in addictive behavior.
  • They continue to engage in the behavior even when it causes negative consequences such as financial problems, relationship difficulties, or physical health issues.
  • Just like with substance addictions, people with behavioral addictions may experience withdrawal symptoms when they cannot engage in the behavior.
  • Over time, they may find that they need to engage in the behavior more frequently or for longer periods to achieve the same level of pleasure or satisfaction.

It's important to note that not everyone with a behavioral addiction will experience all of these symptoms, and some people may experience additional symptoms not listed here. However, if you or someone you know is struggling with addictive behavior and experiencing some of these symptoms, it may be a sign that professional help is needed.

How To Get Help

The first step is seeking help from a reputed rehab facility like Hollywood Hills Recovery. We are a boutique substance abuse treatment and recovery center nestled in the private hills of Los Angeles. We offer comprehensive and effective addiction treatments that can help you overcome behavioral and substance disorders once and for all, so you can live a life you’re proud of. Our addiction treatment plans are highly personalized to your unique needs and focus on holistic healing to produce lasting effects.

Schedule a callback from one of our experts who can evaluate your situation and guide you on your journey to recovery from behavioral addiction.

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