What is a Behavioral Addiction?

Addiction is usually thought of in relation to drugs and alcohol, but people may also become addicted to behaviors to the extent that they interfere with many aspects of their lives including their job, finances, health, and relationships.  Behavioral addictions often occur alongside other mental illnesses, and may also accompany substance abuse issues. These addictions tend to worsen over time without treatment, and will most likely require professional intervention. Mental health is complex, and issues often present in relation to one another.  Anyone experiencing substance abuse that is co-occurring with a behavioral addiction should find a treatment center capable of providing a dual diagnosis and quality care. 

Behavioral addictions vary greatly, but some common activities that may spiral into an addiction include shopping, gambling, watching pornography, and playing video games.  These addictions may occur as a result of mental illness, alongside substance abuse, as a replacement addiction when attempting to quit drugs or alcohol, or a combination of these variables.  As with substance use disorders, behavioral addictions are also influenced by genetics, lifestyle, age, and health. Behavioral addictions can trigger the same reward system in the brain as addictive substances, and therefore are just as real as drug and alcohol addiction.  Their similarity to substance addiction is also why behavioral addictions sometimes occur after an individual has attempted to quit drugs or alcohol without a long-term treatment plan.

On the surface, behavioral addictions may not seem as serious as substance use disorders to those engaging in the behaviors or their loved ones.  The health implications are usually not as immediate, and the consequences of the behavior are often easier to hide than substance abuse. These addictions are, however, very serious, and can lead to job loss, financial crisis, and family strife.  An untreated behavioral addiction also increases the likelihood of substance use disorder occurring in the future, if it hasn’t already.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and a co-occurring mental illness, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.