5 Common Types of Behavioral Addiction

Last Updated: February 16, 2023

When you hear the word “addiction,” you most likely think about people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. That is not unreasonable given the prevalence of drug and alcohol addiction in the US. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 21.5 million Americans 12 years of age and older were diagnosed with a substance use disorder in 2014. That’s just over 8 percent of the adult population.

Despite the prevalence of drug and alcohol addiction, these are not the only things to which people can get addicted. In fact, there are all kinds of different versions of dependencies that can develop, which can cause addicts to constantly seek out that substance or behavior.

Here are just a few things that people can develop a dependency on besides drugs and booze.

1. Gambling – There is nothing wrong with hitting the slot machines every so often as something to do on a Saturday night, but gambling can become a real problem for many people. Not only can it cause people to become completely dependent on the activity, but it can leave them financially crippled. Gambling addiction is real and it is even classified as a bonafide addiction according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). In fact, research has shown that gambling addiction triggers the same parts of the brain as drug addiction.

2. Sex – While not necessarily formally classified as an addiction, people who claim to be addicted to sexual behaviors have been treated for their dependence in treatment facilities similar to those in which drug addicts and alcoholics find themselves. The symptoms of sex addiction actually mimic those of drug and alcohol addicts, such as loss of control and willingness to take unnecessary risks to obtain that highly coveted “high.”

3. Shopping – This type of behavior might seem harmless, but many people have fallen prey to the allure of shopping and the feelings of pleasure that it brings. People who are considered to be addicted to shopping lose control of their behavior and have major problems with impulse control. These people tend to take to the mall when they are feeling blue and are trying to fill a void, but end up feeling as though they did something they should not have once the dust settles long after they get home.

4. Video games – More common in boys and men, addiction to video games can cause people to be stuck inside with their hands on their consoles for the better part of each day. Studies have even shown that as many as 10 percent of video game players – particularly adolescents – may not have as much control over their video game playing as they would like to believe.

5. Food – This should come as no surprise, as high-profile people like Oprah Winfrey have admitted numerous times to having a food addiction. Binge eating is a real issue that affects approximately 3 percent of American adults. Food addicts look to food to help deal with negative emotions and seek comfort, though they typically end up feeling terrible about what they have done shortly after their binge fest.

As you can see, there are a lot more things that can be addictive aside from just drugs and alcohol, and therefore may require the help of treatment at an Ohio addiction treatment center.

What’s the Difference Between Behavioral and Substance Addiction?

The truth of the matter is, the brain does not really care to what you are addicted. All that matters is the addiction itself and the feelings that are experienced as a result. In fact, the brain cannot really even tell the difference between substance and behavioral addiction. Regardless of the circumstances, stimulation is all that matters, no matter what the trigger may be.

The brain is paramount in addiction, mainly because of a chemical called dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces chemicals which transmit signals between the neurons of the brain. Neurons that are located in the reward center of the brain are activated when something pleasurable happens, which in turn causes the release of dopamine.

Just about anything that is considered to evoke feelings of pleasure can cause the release of dopamine, whether it is food, sex, gambling, or drugs and alcohol. Essentially, behavioral and substance addictions really only differ by the actual trigger of pleasurable feelings that end up causing addiction.

Disclaimer: This article was reposted with permission from The Columbus Recovery Center. For the original post and more information regarding The Columbus Recovery Center visit https://www.columbusrecoverycenter.com/treatment-programs/co-occurring-disorders/5-common-types-of-behavioral-addiction/.  TechBear Online is based in South Africa and has no formal partnership with the Columbus Recovery Center or The Recovery Village. For access to South African Based therapists and treatment please refer to our Partners and Resources pages.


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