D'Amore Healthcare outlines that behavioral addictions can prove to be downright complicated in both their origins and methods of treatment. If you or someone you love is suffering from a behavioral addiction, it’s natural to want to understand where it began and why it’s so hard to beat. —
Treatment for Process addictions can be hard to find, but if a behavioral addiction is beginning to control someone’s life it is necessary. Various types of therapies, including behavioral and cognitive therapies, do exist for the treatment of these disorders and can prove hugely successful in the depreciation of addictive behaviors in willing individuals.
Addiction disorders, in general, are somewhat mysterious - even in our modern world of ever-advancing medicine. Although the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (commonly referred to as the “DSM-5), acknowledges behavioral addictions as valid mental illnesses, research is still lacking in their origins. Not all behavioral addictions are recognized officially by the organizations that establish the criteria needed to diagnose a mental health disorder. However, this does not mean that they are invalid disorders undeserving of legitimate addiction treatment.
So, What Exactly Is A Behavioral Addiction
For a behavioral addiction to be diagnosed by a psychiatric professional, it must meet a particular set of criteria- one of those criteria being an unhealthy preoccupation with achieving and performing the individual’s coveted behavior and high levels of stress when it isn’t attained. Behavioral addictions take regular human drives for rewarding activities such as sex, love, food, and money to the next level: the level where their usage becomes both distracting and destructive to the victim of the disorder. The more times someone engages in their addictive behavior, the more the cycle of addiction is reinforced by the continuous engravings of neural pathways. Once the act is completed and satisfaction is achieved in the brain’s reward center, the cycle of craving and seeking begins again.
Behavioral Addictions vs. Substance Use Disorders
Behavioral Addictions are different from substance use disorders, yet also have some intriguing similarities. For example, both sufferers from substance use disorders (like alcoholism or drug addictions) and behavioral addictions experience:
Cravings to perform their particular destructive behaviors or use their desired substances
Feelings of anxiety when the practice cannot be completed/the drug isn't used
The inability to delay gratification
Behavioral addictions involve similar consequences to substance use disorders. Some of these same consequences include feelings of powerlessness and unmanageability concerning the addiction. No matter the kind of addiction that one is plagued with, the reward center of the brain is affected in practically identical ways.
What Causes A Behavioral Addiction
Most causes of behavioral addictions coexist somewhere between the realms of neurochemicals and life experiences. Trauma (such as in the case of veterans or sexual abuse victims) has been known to increase the chances of someone developing either a process addiction or a substance abuse disorder. Having comorbid diseases, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, can also gravely increase the chance that an individual will develop a behavioral addiction.
Food addiction causes an individual to seek out the chemical reward that food (especially food with sugar!) produces and thus overeat frequently. When unable to attain amounts of food that are adequate for this person’s satisfaction, they begin experiencing extreme distress and going to severe measures to achieve it. Often food addicts become extremely overweight due to the inability to stop engaging in overeating. Becoming overweight contributes wildly to the deterioration of their overall physical and mental health. Food addictions can indeed share some similarities with eating disorders. However, food addiction is not necessarily considered an eating disorder and should not be used synonymously with one in conversation.
Gaming Addiction has remained a controversial topic. Not all psychiatric professionals agree that gaming addictions are real. However, when people spend the majority of their time gaming instead of taking care of their responsibilities, engaging in relationships or social activities, and pursuing other hobbies, it can become highly disadvantageous. What people consider as “gaming addiction” involves the excessive fixation on video games and intense upset when unable to play them. Video game addicts spend an unhealthy amount of time in virtual reality. Escapism at its finest, someone with a gaming addiction often finds that reality becomes less and less gratifying compared to the world that exists in their gaming console.
Sex and Love Addiction involves the need to seek out sex and love to feel satisfied and “okay.” It can exist comorbidly with something called codependency, which involves being extremely dependent on another person. Sex and love addiction can be centered around achieving the physical feeling of sexual pleasure and producing particular chemical releases in the human brain. Or, sex and love addiction can revolve around the psychological reward of validation once obtaining love, affection, or sex. People with these addictions often spend copious amounts of time searching for new partners and can suffer extreme problems in their relationships due to these habits. Sometimes, you will hear of people become addicted to the “high” of the honeymoon stage in relationships, and jump between partners to sustain this high.
Gambling Addiction consists of the need to gamble and receive a “rush” from the possibility (or reality) of winning money. These urges to gamble are recurrent and overpowering. Often people that have a gambling addiction face losing large sums of money, disrupting their professional and social life, strained relationships with loved ones, and lowered self-esteem.
What Can I Do To Help A Loved One With A Behavioral Addiction
The best way to help a loved one with a behavioral addiction is to encourage them to seek professional treatment and offer empathy. Most people with behavioral addictions experience ample amounts of shame relating directly to their disorders; forgiveness and compassion from peers and family members minimize guilt and can make seeking help much less intimidating for the addict. Professional help and therapeutic services for all types of addictions are available
Name: Britten Devereux
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Organization: D'Amore Healthcare
Address: 16541 Gothard Street, Suite 102, Huntington Beach, California 92647
Phone: 714.375.1110, Extension 101
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