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10 Common Behavioral Addictions

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10 Common Behavioral Addictions
Picture of Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Dr. Mohsin Ali MD is board certified in Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Trained in Syracuse NY, he has worked in Tennessee for the last sixteen years.

Table of Contents

10 Common Behavioral Addictions

You may understand addictions in the context of a substance only. However, behavioral addictions are something people are not aware of. From sexual desires to web scrolling, one’s actions can become seriously addictive. 

Behavioral addiction, also known as process addiction, refers to a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-substance-related behavior, despite any potential harmful consequences. Unlike substance addiction, where individuals are dependent on drugs or alcohol, behavioral addiction involves an overwhelming urge to partake in activities such as gambling, shopping, eating, or even excessive internet use. The neural pathways activated during these behaviors are similar to those activated by substance abuse, leading to increased levels of dopamine in the brain. Over time, individuals may require more frequent or intense engagement in the behavior to achieve the same “high” or satisfaction, much like the tolerance seen in substance addiction.

Recognizing and understanding behavioral addiction is crucial, as it can severely impact one’s quality of life, relationships, and overall well-being.

Some common behavioral addictions are:

  1. Risky behavior addiction- You may want to go on dangerous and adventurous activities to experience that excitement and rush. You may regularly indulge in activities that involve risk. The thrill releases the same chemicals as addictive drugs.
  2. Food addiction- Binge eating is a real issue. It is difficult to identify it. You may eat to feel better, overeat while alone, or feel guilty after binge eating. The leading cause of food addiction is depression.
  3. Plastic surgery addiction- You may feel that you look ugly. Therefore, you may go under the knife repeatedly to look a specific way. Your doctor may tell you that it can harm you. But still, you may look for a plastic surgeon continuously until you find one who agrees to treat you.
  4. Video game addiction- You may stick to that game console all the time. You may even begin to think of the gaming world as reality. You can even get violent if someone tries to stop you from playing. This addiction is common in men and boys and can be treated with counseling and behavior modifications.
  5. Internet addiction- Internet usage certainly has many benefits, but it can be an addiction too.  You may lose your control and over-consume scrolling the internet.  Many people find themselves spending over five or more hours on the web each day. It affects the brain tremendously.
  6. Sex addiction- You may think about sex all day and indulge in sexual activities like watching porn or masturbating. You may not have self-control and not think about consequences.
  7. Shopping addiction- You may shop to feel happy or feel guilty afterward. Your closet may be full of unused clothes. But it can be dangerous for you financially and personally if it goes out of control. It is common in women and involves treatments like counseling and behavioral therapy.
  8. Gambling addiction- It may begin as a means of entertainment. It affects the same parts of the brain as drug addiction does. You may continue to indulge in gambling, even if you are incurring losses. It can damage your personal life and your finances.
  9. Exercise addiction- You may be devoting too much time to exercising and not focus on other things in your life, like your family. You may continue to exercise even if your health is not okay.
  10. Chocolate addiction- You can have a sweet tooth and like chocolates a lot. However, you may be consuming too much chocolate. You may even increase your everyday intake of chocolate and replace your meals with chocolate products like shakes or cakes.

Treatment Options for Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral addictions, characterized by compulsive engagement in activities such as gambling, shopping, eating, or internet use, can profoundly disrupt an individual’s life, often paralleling the challenges seen with substance abuse. As the medical community recognizes the significance of these non-substance-related addictions, a diverse range of treatment options have emerged. Here’s a detailed look at the most effective treatment avenues:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A gold-standard in many therapeutic practices, CBT helps individuals identify and challenge the thought patterns driving their addictive behaviors, enabling them to build healthier coping mechanisms.

  • Group Therapy: This treatment offers a communal environment where individuals can share experiences, fostering a sense of solidarity and mutual understanding. Sharing triumphs and struggles with peers can be immensely therapeutic.

  • Medication: Certain behavioral addictions, especially when coexisting with disorders like depression or anxiety, may benefit from specific medications that regulate mood and reduce compulsive urges.

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: These holistic methods promote self-awareness, helping individuals to recognize triggers and respond to them in non-reactive ways.

  • Rehabilitation Programs: Tailored to address specific behavioral addictions, these intensive programs provide a structured setting that combines education, therapy, and skills development to foster recovery and prevent relapse.

  • Digital Detox: Particularly relevant for online and gaming addictions, a period of complete digital disconnection can help recalibrate an individual’s relationship with technology.

Understanding the intricate nature of behavioral addictions is crucial. Each individual’s journey is unique, and thus, a personalized approach to treatment is pivotal. By combining multiple modalities and focusing on individual needs, recovery from behavioral addictions becomes an achievable goal. The growing arsenal of evidence-based treatments ensures that those grappling with these challenges have the resources and support they need to regain balance and thrive.

Iris Wellness Group provides personalized and empathetic behavioral addiction treatment in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and neighboring regions.

About Iris Wellness Group in Chattanooga, TN

Behavioral addictions are getting very common over time and can be treated like other physical addictions. If you want to overcome addiction, Iris Wellness Group is the right place. We are known for our team of trained clinicians and therapists. For more information about us, contact us at 423-460-9766 or fill out the contact form.  

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