Introduction of Addiction
Our daily existence is made possible by whole sets of routines and automatic behaviors on multiple levels.
Most of these have been formed or strengthened with the assistance of naturally occurring hormones that help us to form habits, good or bad, desired or unwanted.
So how much more of a step is an addiction? What defines an addiction, and separates it from a habit?
Basically, an addiction is an extreme compulsive behavior, one over which the sufferer feels unable to resist, even when knowing that the outcomes of fulfilling the addictive behavior will almost certainly have damaging outcomes.
Certainly then, the line between some bad habits and an addiction is not black and white, but a gray area.
Addiction is a complicated subject. More often than not, people assume addiction is related mostly to substance or chemical abuse. While substance and chemical abuse is very real and affects millions of people every year, we also must acknowledge behavioral addictions.
Generally speaking, addiction starts out the same. People are looking for a getaway from life’s ups and downs and begin experimenting with different substances or activities to avoid dealing with the stress at hand.
People partake in tons of activities on a daily basis, each with their own consequences. Seemingly harmless activities become behavioral addictions when the brain interprets the activity as good.
Not just good, but extremely good. The endorphin levels go into overdrive and people crave the high or euphoria created by the stimulation, or activity.
Criteria for Behavioral Addictions
Of the most common behavioral addictions there really is no set diagnostic criteria, except for Gambling Addiction which has finally made it into the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition).
Some of their questions might include:
⦁ Are you spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about, engaging in or recovering from the behavior?
⦁ Are you using the behavior as a means of coping with emotions or stressors?
⦁ Do you continue the behavior despite negative consequences to your physical and/or mental health?
⦁ Do you find yourself neglecting other responsibilities, such as work, school, or family, so you can engage in the behavior?
⦁ Have you tried to stop the behavior and have been unable to do so?
⦁ When you attempt to stop the behavior do you experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability or depression?
⦁ Do you tend to minimalize the behavior by trying to convince yourself and others it is not a problem?
Common Behavioral Addictions
Behavioral addictions can easily spin out of control wreaking havoc in every area of a person’s life. There’s no possible way to create a comprehensive list of all behaviors which might be considered a true addiction. However, below is a list of several common behavioral addictions.
This includes any and all types of gambling; casino slot machines, poker games, online gambling sites, and betting on sports teams are just a few. People with gambling addiction will place bets often, even if they don’t have the means to cover it. When untreated this addiction will ultimately lead to financial ruin and legal complications.
Video Game Addiction
The allure with video game addiction is in creating a new life, a fantasy life, to avoid the problems of here and now. With the advancements in graphics and the ability to communicate with other players via headset, there’s no need for the outside world.
It’s all about being “connected” with this behavioral addiction. Compulsively checking emails, looking at breaking news stories, scrolling through social media feeds, interacting in chat rooms, reading blog posts, researching any- and everything mentioned in normal conversation are a few ways one with an internet addiction might behave.
They feel lonely and as if they are missing out if they aren’t engaging in some form of connection to the internet 24/7.
The thrill of acquiring something new fills a perceived void in the people with a shopping addiction. There is usually a justification, “excuse”, for buying each purchase as well. It’s either for a gift, a deal that couldn’t be passed up, it will be useful one day or you can never have too many of these. This behavioral addiction becomes a problem when the spending causes financial ruin and purchases are simply forgotten about and just taking up space.
Most people dream of having good, loving, healthy relationships in their lives. Unfortunately, even though our society is exposed to great relationship influences, many people still end up in unhealthy relational dynamics.
One type of relationship that is characterized by this undesirable dynamic is an addictive type of relationship.
Addictive relationships are similar to most addictions. People get addicted to a variety of things such as smoking, alcohol, drugs, etc. People can also get addicted to love and relationships.
When they are caught in this vicious cycle, they can experience a very unstable and rocky relationship, characterized by consistent negative experiences and emotions, and seemingly insurmountable relationship challenges.
This is not to say that for a relationship to qualify as healthy there shouldn’t be any difficulties at all. Healthy relationships grow with time and eventually get settled and steady, as both partners better understand each other.
Chemical and Substance Addictions
Chemical and substance addictions have become extremely prevalent in our society.
Of course, there is a long-standing debate on whether “addiction” is simply a lack of willpower, personal strength, and moral principles versus it actually being an actual disease.
Naysayers believe the person abusing drugs or alcohol should be able to just quit at will, especially after noticing negative consequences.
In some cases, those with addictions can stop on their own and lead a perfectly normal life. There are also those who require professional help.
Studies have proven many times over that chemical and substance addictions have both physiological and psychological components. Researchers have provided irrefutable evidence on how the brain changes over time with continued drug and/or alcohol abuse.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about sexual addiction. Brace yourself. It’s a real thing, sex addiction.
Just like any other addiction, if the four components are present (compulsion, obsession, inability to stop regardless of negative consequences, and withdrawal), it’s going to take hard work, self-reflection, self-control, and more often than not, professional help.
Like with many other forms of addiction, sexual addiction is a cover. Children act out when they don’t know how to communicate their feelings, desires, or pain. With adults, addictions form usually as a coping mechanism.
There’s most likely something hidden deep within we either don’t want others to see or we are afraid to see ourselves.
Other Common Behavioral Addictions
there is the long-standing debate on whether “addiction” is simply a lack of will-power, personal strength and moral principles versus it actually being an actual disease.
Work addiction is a form of self-soothing wherein the addict cannot ascertain how to make their lives less complicated and more manageable. Work is essentially the safe zone wherein one can delay dealing with or completely ignore what lies just outside the office door.
Treatments and Therapies
Addictions have become quite an epidemic in our society, and it seems as if it’s only getting worse. Every direction we turn there’s an advertisement about a treatment center for addiction or a billboard on the side of the freeway.
Risky Behavior Addiction
Pure adrenaline rush is what these folks are pursuing. Those with risky behavior addiction will engage in potentially dangerous activities ranging from skydiving to driving under the influence to having unprotected sex with strangers.