6 Things to Know about Behavioural Addiction

Most people think of addiction as something to do with drugs or alcohol that needs the person to go into drug addiction recovery. While this is true, there are other kinds of addictions that require a different type of treatment. Behavioural addictions fall into this category. People can be addicted to things such as gambling, porn, eating, exercise, working and even shopping.

All these are called behavioural addictions because the addict is not ingesting a harmful substance, but it’s the behaviour in pursuing the thing and doing it that causes them and other people problems.  Such people get hooked on doing the thing that gives them a high and they can’t seem to stop even when they know they can’t afford to continue (in the case of gambling or shopping) or even when the thing interferes with their relationships or health ( porn or over-eating).

Another thing that makes certain behaviours addictive is the fact that when the addict stops – or tries to stop – they constantly think about doing it and become depressed or even angry if they can’t. This is a form of withdrawal even though it does not have the same physical symptoms experienced in the withdrawal from drugs. Here are 6 things to know about behavioural addiction.

  1. Even though many ‘experts’ don’t agree that behavioural addiction is a true addiction, it is included in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition as an addiction. However, gambling addiction is officially recognised as a behavioural addiction.
  2. The media is increasingly taking on the concepts of behavioural addiction, for example sex and shopping addictions and bringing other addiction behaviours not frequently discussed such as self-harm and multiple plastic surgeries to the light.
  3. Behavioural addictions are also called process addictions and the same pattern is found in them as is found in substance abuse addictions. They also cause the addict many life problems.
  4. They have the same effects on the addict’s relationships as substance abuse addictions as the addict often neglects those relationships in order to indulge in their addiction. This leads to stress because other family members try to cover up or do more than they can manage to make up for the addict’s neglect.
  5. While services to help the behaviourally addicted are few, any psychologist or psychiatrist will be able to help you to change such behaviour and get your relationships back on track. They will also help you learn to cope with your problems without the help of an addiction.
  6. Some symptoms of behavioural addiction are: spending most of your time thinking about, doing or recovering from doing it; continuing to do it in spite of physical or mental harm; neglecting important things in life to do it more; being irritable or depressed when trying to stop and minimizing or hiding how much you do it.