You may have noticed a few behavioral patterns that take up too much of your time and thought nothing of it. Let’s say you can’t get enough of shopping or gambling, or can’t turn your eyes away from porn or food. These actions might seem harmless, but they actually harbor a darker and addictive side if done excessively. Behavioral health means how a person’s state of mind and how their choices influence their health. These behavioral patterns can reach an extreme and can be classified as an addiction.
Addiction is considered a chronic brain disorder resulting in compulsive behavior. The true behavioral Addiction definition means the overpowering desire to repeat a specific action excessively because it brings them pleasure. From a psychological view, repeated patterns of this action can be classified as addictive behavior similar to substance abuse. But can these behavioral patterns be considered a disease like drug abuse? Below we explore this question further.
Behavioral addiction vs Substance abuse
To this day, experts argue whether or not these excessive behavioral patterns can be classified similarly to substance abuse. It’s believed that behavioral addictions actually have the same pattern as substance abuse; they have the same effects on a person in terms of hiding your addiction, being in-denial, and going to extremes to perform them. Behavioral addictions can start the same way substance abuse starts as neurotransmitters will fill the brain whenever a person has the desire to engage in such activities. Even though they won’t cause physical dependence the same way substance abuse does, an addict to behavioral patterns will still experience the same consequences and effects.
Signs and Symptoms of behavioral addiction
The tricky thing about behavioral addiction is that it displays differently than substance abuse; a person won’t show any signs of withdrawal that is common in drug and alcohol abuse. However, many of the emotional signs are similar like displaying signs of guilt and shame, lying, living in denial, often missing important daily tasks like work or school, severed relationships, and lack of self-care. Not to mention the endless mental health issues that arise like anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Behavioral addiction can be diagnosed if the person experiences negative consequences and yet can’t bring themselves to stop this pattern. Once diagnosed, behavioral addiction can be treated the same way substance abuse does.
Types of behavioral addictions
Gambling is the compulsive behavior of placing bets and it has been made easy with online gambling. When a person engages frequently in gambling, even if they’re losing money, attempts to conceal their desire to gamble from loved ones, has tried on many occasions to quit but is unable to, and often resorts to gambling when stressed are all signs of a behavioral addiction.
Sex and Porn
Sex addiction is the pattern of sexual impulses that are difficult to control and porn addiction is when one is unable to function sexually without pornography. These open up a myriad of consequences like STDs, relationship problems, and can often lead to violent behavior like rape. The advancement of technology has been often one to blame for the rise of compulsive sexual behaviors.
Young adults are the most susceptible to this type of addiction as it’s a way to escape life. With the advancement of gaming, it’s often hard for gamers to quit, leading them to forgo important things like school or work to escape into the gaming world. This of course leads to aggressive behavior and a severe disconnection from reality.
Shopping excessively without the ability to stop can lead to many negative consequences like financial debt. It can also lead to shame and being in-denial of even having a compulsive spending problem. It’s perceived that a shopping addict is trying to fill up a hole in their psychological life with material items they won’t even use.
Another addiction to look out for are food addictions, where the addict wouldn’t be able to stop eating food that is high in sugar and fat, especially when stressed, thus leading to many diseases and obesity. Work addiction where a person will work long hours, sacrificing important relationships, or their health, to obsessively climb the corporate ladder. Internet and Social Media addiction where one swaps out real relationships with social media ones and compulsively checks, social media every minute and obsessively posts online.
The fact that almost everyone engages in these behaviors mentioned above, it’s a little hard to distinguish if this is an addiction or not. However, if these behavioral patterns are coupled with an array of social and psychological behaviors no matter the consequences, only then is it considered an addiction you need to treat.