Behavioral Addiction: What Is Addictive Behaviors and How Does It Work?

Most people might not know what behavioral addiction is or they don’t really qualify it as a real addiction. They might even think these people can control their actions if they really wanted to and just don’t care enough to change. This type of thinking might even cause people to deny they have a problem and everything could spiral out of control. Before you judge behavioral addiction, let’s delve into what addictive behaviors really are and some types you might recognize in people close to you.

What Is Addictive Behavior?

Do you know someone who you suspect might have a behavioral addiction? If you’ve never researched the term, you might not know what it means to have this type of affliction. As stated by American Addiction Centers, addictive behavior is when a person compulsively keeps doing a particular act even though it could harm their physical health, mental health, finances, and relationships.

The psychology of addictive behaviors correlates to drug addiction, meaning these activities can become addictive because they want to continue feeling the short-term rewards that can occur. They still won’t be able to stop on their own when they know there could be long-term consequences such as a spouse leaving them or losing their house due to debt.

What Are Some Addictive Behaviors?

Most addictive behaviors are legal; therefore, people think it’s not possible to become addicted to them. There are very few laws in place to prevent someone from abusing these types of behaviors. The following examples of instances of legal addiction.

Internet Addiction

addictive behaviors internet addictionMost people use the internet every day, whether it’s to check the weather, read the news, or scroll through their social media. More and more children are growing up in a world where using the internet is normal and plays a vital role in their daily lives. The constant stimulation of the bright lights, social connection with others, and the small satisfaction of having all the answers at your fingertips can become addictive.

People can abuse the internet by depending on it too much to solve their daily problems. They will spend hours messaging people, updating status on various social media platforms, or relying too much on getting information from the internet instead of talking to someone face to face.

Gambling Addiction

gambling addiction addictive behaviorsGambling addiction is one of the most well-known types of addictive behaviors. You probably know at least one person in your life who has an issue controlling their compulsive need to bet on a sports team or continue playing the slot machines. There are several different forms of gambling, but any type can cause a person to experience pleasure at winning any amount of money.

People become addicted to that wonderful feeling of winning and do anything to acquire the resources to get that winners feeling again. Those who partake in this kind of behavior have to make excuses for wasting a portion or all of their money on one bet. They want more and more money even if it means spending their whole check in one day. Always losing the money you gamble can lead to financial issues.

Video Game Addiction

addictive behaviors video game addictionIt was once hard to believe that playing video games all the time for an extended amount of time could possibly be considered an addiction. But according to the World Health Organization(WHO), the modern day video games and the behaviors of the people that play them are turning into a mental health issue and potentially an addiction. Video gamers LOVE to play their video games. They plan their days around them, they meet friends from all over the world, find romantic interests with the same gaming habits as themselves, and of course, spend ridiculous amounts of money on equipment, downloadable content, convention tickets, and merchandise from their favorite games.

Some could even say that their gaming behavior is borderline an addiction or obsessive. This is an excellent example of people receiving a short-term reward because people who play will feel gratification quickly whenever they win different levels of the game. This type of addiction can become detrimental to a person’s physical health. A person who compulsively plays a game might forgo eating healthy foods, getting proper exercise, spending money for rankings and close themselves off from from family, friends, and generally the whole world. Personal relationships can suffer or fall apart due to in game events or gaming responsibilities.

Plastic Surgery Addiction

addictive behaviors plastic surgery addictionThose who aren’t happy with their physical appearance or are striving for a perfect body might become addicted to plastic surgery. One nose job by a plastic surgeon might be the catalyst to seeking more and more ways to alter their image in ways they consider beautiful. However, this compulsive nature can cause them to continue the process until they start having riskier procedures such as removing ribs to be as skinny as possible.

Some people get sucked into a substance abuse addiction because of a traumatic experience they may have endured in their youth. Plastic surgery addiction can manifest the same way. Some people who are bullied or picked on for the way they look can influence a person to depend on plastic surgery to heal those emotional scars when they get older. They can tell themselves that one more surgery will make them love themselves again, only to find another flaw that they just refuse to live with. 

Shopping Addiction

addictive behaviors shopping addictionA person who shops receives a quick spike in pleasure since buying things can make people happy. When a person depends on that feeling of happiness or pleasure from purchasing something, they could find themselves addicted. This can become abusive when the shopper buys products they don’t really need. They just want to feel that pleasurable rush that comes with buying something in a store. Their continued spending could eventually lead to financial issues. If they don’t seek help, then the relationships in their life might suffer from their actions. Your loved ones might get upset that you are putting them in debt, especially if it’s a spouse or child who is dependent on the money you spent.

Behavioral Addiction and Drug Addiction

Science can help depict the similarities between addictive substances and behavioral addiction. By comparing video game addiction and drug addiction with each other, you can see how they both rely on a pattern of abuse to get a pleasurable response. Drugs can alter an addict’s ability to stay clear from threatening situations, whether this means risks to their health, breaking the law, or surrounding themselves with menacing people. However, drug addicts usually give in to their bad habits because of the pleasurable feeling it gives them. Sometimes they want to use to escape their reality for just a little while.

addictive behaviors drug addictionVideo gamers love the thrill and pleasure that comes with each win they score. The rest of reality might seep into the background while all their attention is in the game world. Both types of addicts only want the pleasurable success of a game or a high of a drug. As a result, their health and their relationships could be affected. In both instances, their cravings for pleasure make them want more and more, no matter the consequences.

To further prove a correlation between behavioral addiction and drug addiction, they mirror a pattern of tolerance. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, those suffering from pathological gambling and shopping addiction have said they feel they have to increase their money spending activities to explore those pleasurable responses once more. This is similar to when a drug addict’s body begins to tolerate the drug, making them up the dosage of that drug. They also have an urge or craving that makes it hard or impossible for some of them to control their actions.

There are times when those suffering from gambling addiction might end up relapsing after years of staying clear from making bets or seeking the pleasurable high of being in a casino. This means gambling addicts, as well as other behavioral addicts, can benefit from a rehab center that can help prevent future relapses from occurring. Individualized treatment for behavioral addiction would allow these addicts to figure out the reasons why they turned to this behavior in the first place.

Talking it through with a professional therapist can be very beneficial for those who fear a relapse. The therapist can help you make a preventative plan and allow you to get through the tough times that have you seeking gambling or other compulsive habits. Other addicts have gotten through it, so it’s not impossible to finally be in recovery.

Living with this addiction without seeking help can end up destroying your life if you let it. From negatively impacting your health to creating financial ruin, it might drastically alter your situation if you continue without seeking some type of individualized treatment. Find a rehab center that’s right for you today and rebuild the life you can still have.