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What Are Behavioral Addictions?

man struggles with behavioral addiction

Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. Behavioral addictions are those that do not come from a chemical substance, but rather a behavior that one completes. Behavioral addictions can look like food addictions, gambling addictions, shopping addictions, or sex addictions. Erica Garza, the focus of a TIME Magazine article, had developed a sex addiction at a young age. Continue reading to learn more about what behavioral addictions are and how they can manifest.   

The Story of a Sex Addict

Garza spoke to Barbara O’Dair, author of “Compulsions Without the Chemicals” for TIME Magazine’s Special Edition “The Science of Addiction.” Garza says that she began thinking about sex a lot as a pre-teen. “That’s hardly unusual for people at that age, but the way she thought about it was.” Garza soon became sexually active, which satisfied her temporarily. However, she says. “‘It was almost always tied up in shame about the kind of sex I’d had, the kind of person he was or the kind of fantasies I’d feasted on throughout. There was always something to feel bad about. I felt empty and anxious, waiting for the next round with someone new.’” O’Dair explains that “It got to the point that Garza became dependent on shame in order to feel pleasure.” By her 20s, Garza began engaging in risky and unhealthy behavior. The height of Garza’s addiction came one night in Paris after a rough night when she said she was “alone, drunk, and half-dressed” wandering the streets in ripped and bloodied clothing.    After that night, Garza was able to listen to the little voice in her head that kept “telling me to stop hurting myself and others.” She looked into some interventions, including 12-Step programs and a therapeutic retreat. “Garza began to shake herself free,” says O’Dair. “And she now considers that dark time to be safely in her past.” She calls herself recovered. You can, too.   

Arbor Behavioral Healthcare offers many programs, including inpatient programs, intensive outpatient programs, sober living homes, recovery coaching, and more. Our programs are tailored to the individual we are treating. We know there is no one-size-fits-all to substance use treatment. We can help you shake free from your addiction today. Call us at 844-413-2690. We can’t wait to speak with you and help you today!