Addiction Treatment

How To Identify Addictive Behaviors

Written By:

Becky Babb

woman cries while using a computer to learn about damage from addictive behavior

While many times addictions involve physical dependency, the psychological and behavioral aspects of addiction must be considered as well. Addictive behavior is just as difficult to treat than physical addictions. Addictive behaviors, like physical addictions, result in changes to your brain chemistry. You can even experience psychological and physical symptoms of withdrawal when you stop engaging in addictive behavior.

Addictive behavior often revolves around drugs and alcohol but also can involve more common behaviors. In fact, many elements of substance abuse addictions are behavioral in nature. Additionally, you can experience physical and behavioral addiction at the same time.

Luckily, identifying addictive behavior and the need for treatment can lead to a successful recovery. Evidence-based and holistic therapies from an addiction rehab center can help you learn to change and control your addictive behaviors.

The Psychology of Addictive Behavior

The psychology of addictive behaviors is complex. When you engage in a pleasurable activity, your brain releases neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters make you happy and euphoric, but your brain begins to expect and crave them. Over time, feeding this cycle can even alter your brain chemistry.  When you see or are exposed to something that reminds you of the behavior you are addicted to, you can experience intense cravings despite wanting to stop engaging in the behavior. For some people, these cravings even bring on physical symptoms.

This can make it difficult to stop a behavior even if it causes negative consequences. Other than drugs and alcohol, many other behaviors can become addictive. When this occurs, they are referred to as behavioral or process addictions.

Some of the most common behavioral addictions are:

  • Sex
  • Gambling
  • Shopping
  • Video Games
  • Pornography

Behavioral addictions, just like drug or alcohol addictions, can cause you to engage in dangerous or illegal behavior. For example, if you suffer from a gambling addiction, you may steal or engage in criminal activity to pay off gambling debts. If you have an addiction to shopping, you may experience significant financial problems and become unable to control your spending. There is no known cause of behavioral addictions, but they require treatment.

Identifying Behaviors of Addiction

Struggling, or watching a loved one struggle with addiction can be incredibly hard. The person with an addiction often understands they have a problem, whether it is gambling, shopping, alcohol, or drugs. However, people struggling with addiction work very hard to hide their habit and the consequences. The psychology of addictive behaviors often means that individuals in active addiction deal with shame that prevents them from reaching out, even to those that are closest to them.

Identifying addictive behaviors can help decide when to reach out for professional help. These can include:

  • Manipulative behavior
  • Crimes to fund addiction like stealing or fraud
  • Frequently shifting the blame for their actions on to others
  • Acting irrationally
  • Becoming angry and abusive

When you identify some of these behaviors in yourself or a loved one, seek professional help. With the help of a rehab admissions counselor, you can find inpatient or outpatient treatment, depending on your needs. Addiction therapies focus on helping you learn how to combat cravings and develop healthy coping mechanisms. You will also learn how to avoid and control triggers, which can help you avoid a relapse.

Are you Struggling with Addictive Behavior?

If you or a loved one is struggling to overcome or control an addictive behavior, reaching out for help is the first step towards recovery. Like other addictions, behavioral addictions require treatment. The Last Resort has the experience, compassion, and training to help guide you throughout your recovery process. To learn more about how our programs and treatment options can help you or a loved one, call us today today.

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