Behavioral addictions are defined as repetitive behaviors that seek a reward and cause changes in the brain. Some of the most common behavioral addictions include the following:
- Video Games
Although many experts recognize that all of these behaviors can become compulsive and cause changes in the brain as people participate in them, only gambling addiction and eating disorders have been officially recognized as psychological disorders as of the most recent release of the DSM-V designation of disorders and diseases. As those in the mental health community grow in understanding behavioral addiction, however, this may change.
Behavioral Addictions Can Follow Similar Patterns to Substance Abuse
Here are some of the patterns that both behavioral addiction and drug or alcohol addiction have in common.
- Engaging in the behavior more intensely or over a longer period of time than they originally intended to do.
- Expressing a persistent desire to stop, reduce or regulate use but being unsuccessful in doing so.
- Spending excessive amounts of time seeking out the resources needed for the behavior, engaging in the behavior, or recovering from its effects.
- Craving the feeling created by the behavior and feeling an intense desire or urge, especially in certain environments where the behavior usually takes place.
- Continuing in the behavior despite negative effects like losing relationships, social isolation, losing a job, and other negative effects.
- Taking risks to engage in the behavior.
- Needing more of the behavior to get a reward from it (tolerance) and feeling a type of withdrawal when the behavior is stopped.
One of the main similarities between substance abuse and behavioral disorders is being obsessively preoccupied with the object of the addiction and going to great lengths to avoid feelings of discomfort when you stop the addictive behavior.
Both those with substance abuse and those with behavioral addictions have made the addiction the focus of their lives, and they pursue it in spite of the pervasive negative consequences it brings to their lives.
Many people who have dealt with behavioral addictions in addition to substance abuse have noticed that many of the symptoms of their behaviors are not that different from those involved in substance abuse. Now, scientists are discovering that people’s brains react very much the same with behavioral addiction as they do with substance abuse.
Both behavioral addictions and substance abuse have been shown to light up the dopamine receptors in people’s brains. While normally, drugs and alcohol cause a much stronger response than behaviors like eating or sex, those with behavioral addictions have similar brain responses to the ones caused by drugs and alcohol when they engage in the behaviors.
The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers treatment for behavioral addictions when they co-occur with substance abuse. If you or a loved one need help with a behavioral addiction in conjunction with substance abuse, we provide Colorado addiction treatment customized to your particular needs. Contact us for more information.