When people hear the word “addiction” they often think of drugs and alcohol. However, uppers and downers aren’t the only ones that people tend to abuse and become addicted to.
As you dig deep into the clinical definition of addiction, you’ll find that there are all kinds of dependencies that may even surprise you. Aside from substances or chemicals, there are other addictions such as sex, pornography, internet, social media, extreme sports, gambling, and many more.
Common characteristics of addiction
As with substances, there are characteristics that are distinctly addictive.
First of all, people with addictive behavior become obsessed on the object, activity or substance. They will actively seek it out, often at the expense of one’s health, well-being, career, and relationships. They will compulsively engage over and over in the activity to satisfy their addictions, even if they have planned earlier to avoid it. They lose control over when, how much, how often, or how long they do or continue the behavior.
They would also deny that they have a problem, therefore justifying their continued use. And, once they cease the activity, withdrawal symptoms occur. This can be in the form of irritability, craving, mood swings and restlessness.
People with addictive behavior often have low self-esteem and are people pleasers. They also easily get anxious when things go wrong and they have no control over their situation or environment.
Similar effects with substance addiction
As behavioral addictions have the same symptoms as substance addictions, they also have the same effect to the brain. This is because addictive behaviors can change the mood by creating a euphoric, or blissful feeling, in the brain. This is due to the serotonin released in the brain then one engages in an activity.
As people perform the activity on a regular basis, they may develop a tolerance to the euphoric feelings that occurs. This is why people engage in activities more often, and much longer, or even engage in more intense forms of the activity to get the “high” that they initially felt.
Signs and Symptoms of Behavioral Addiction
Increasing the frequency in which you engage in the behavior or engaging for a longer period of time than you initially intended.
- Constant need to engage in the behavior.
- One or more failed efforts to stop, reduce or control the behavior.
- Majority of your time is spent engaging in the behavior, arranging to engage in the behavior, or recovering from the effects.
- Preoccupation with the behavior itself or with the actions required to prepare for it.
- Neglecting other obligations such as work, school or family so that you can engage in the behavior more often.
- Isolating yourself so that it is easier to engage in the behavior without friends or family knowing about it.
- Continuing to engage in the behavior despite negative consequences.
- Increasing the intensity or frequency of the behavior to achieve the same effect. Restlessness, irritability, hostility or anxiety if you are unable to engage in the behavior.
A person who is addicted to a certain behavior or activity builds a psychological dependence overtime, the same way that the alcoholic builds physical dependence on alcohol.
If you are someone you know is struggling with behavioral addiction,