As unbelievable as it may seem, research has shown that it really is possible for almost anyone to become physically and or mentally dependent, or compulsively obsessive, about practically any substance, object, or even activity that can provide stimulation and pleasure. Research has proven that there is a genuine connection between physical dependence to various substances such as alcohol or heroin, and mental dependence on activities like compulsive gambling, sex, work, running, or even eating disorders.
It is believed by scientists and other health care professionals that being mentally dependent or obsessive about a particular activity or object can produce beta-hormones within the brain, making the individual feel “high.” if an individual continues to their obsession or habit, they many actually become physically addicted to these brain chemicals, and therefore will continue with the addictive behavior despite the fact that it might have very serious and harmful effects on their physical or mental health or even their relationships with others.
In addition to this, it is also understood that traditional addictions to substances like alcohol, heroin, marijuana or barbiturates also have a mental component. For instance, someone who has smoked pot or been an alcoholic may continue to crave to use these or other substances long after they have quit using. Therefore, in order for any addiction treatment to be successful, it must look at and treat both the physical and mental components of addiction. Many addicts who are addicted to traditional substances like alcohol, barbiturates, or even methamphetamines and cocaine often have added on addictions to various addictive behaviors. For example, many have addictive behaviors to over or under eating, shopping, gambling, video gaming or other addictions.
While it is normal to participate and repeat activities that are enjoyable and give individuals pleasure, addictive behaviors share many common qualities regardless of the specific addictive behavior. What may start as an activity that is pursued normally, with addictive behavior, the activity or object assumes an over large importance and the person starts to think about the activity all of the time. As the obsession grows, they constantly seek the activity, object or substance all of the time and eventually to the exclusion of all other activities objects or substances. Eventually the life of the addict revolves around repeating this addictive activity or behavior, regardless of the consequences.
Just like addicts who are physically addicted to a substance, those with addictive behaviors will crave the activity or substance and will become fearful, angry and more when the obsession is removed. Even when participating in the addictive behavior causes loss of jobs or central relationships, the addict will often continue, even if on some level they wish to stop. Many of the traditional types of therapy and support that are part of traditional addiction treatments can often help those with addictive behaviors learn to beat their addiction and cope with temptations to relapse. Examples include cognitive behavior therapy, and the active participation in individual counseling and support groups are often successful in helping those with addictive behaviors break free from their obsession and dependence on the harmful habit. There are even inpatient programs to help those with addictive behaviors that have proven to be quite successful.