Behavioral addictions

Traditionally, the word “addiction” has been used to describe dependence on substances such as alcohol and drugs. More recently, the term has been applied to a varied range of problematic behaviors. Behavioral or process addictions are patterns of behavior that follow a pattern similar to substance dependence. These addictions begin with a person associating pleasure with a particular action, which then fuels an ongoing motivation to repeat the activity. In the case of gambling, there is the added possibility of financial reward that the individual perceives as an achievable outcome.

Examples of addictive vices include :

  • Gambling
  • Playing video games
  • Performing sexual activities
  • Using cellphones
  • Accessing social media
  • Working
  • Exercising
  • Shopping

For some people, behavioral addictions begin as a means of releasing or coping with stress, but eventually it can grow into a compulsion rather than a choice. When a person is addicted to any sort of process, he or she experiences urges or cravings to engage in the behavior that intensify until he or she carries out the behavior. Even if negative consequences occur along the way, the individual is bound by a cycle of repeated conduct.

Behavioral addictions are real

Behavioral addiction is comparable to substance-based addiction and even results in similar complications and consequences if it is left unchecked. In fact, modern brain imaging has revealed that becoming dependent on certain behaviors involves neurological pathways that abusive drugs also traverse.

The real problem with this type of addiction is that it takes center stage in an individual’s life and causes the person to neglect important elements such as work, school, relationships and other daily responsibilities. In addition, those who gamble excessively or have compulsions that cost money will continually experience financial instability due to their insatiable needs. Sometimes, the habit will progress to the point when one must borrow or steal money in order to sustain his or her behavior.

Causes and effects

Certain behaviors create a euphoric sensation due to the resulting release of chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These neurotransmitters have a very powerful effect on one’s thoughts and actions, as he or she will attempt to recreate the feeling regardless of any negative consequences. Behavioral disorder treatments focus on looking past the identifiable problem behavior and uncovering the impulse that accompanies it.

The signs and symptoms of a behavioral addiction consist of :

  • An intense preoccupation or craving to engage in the behavior
  • Experiencing restlessness, irritability, hostility or other discomforting symptoms if one is unable to engage in the behavior
  • Increasing the intensity or frequency of the behavior to achieve the same desired effect
  • Increasing the frequency or duration in which one engages in the behavior despite his or her intentions
  • Continuing to engage in the behavior despite negative consequences
  • One or more failed efforts to stop, reduce or control the behavior
  • The majority of one’s time is spent engaging in the behavior, making preparations to do so or recovering from its effects
  • Neglecting important obligations such as work, school or family so that the person can engage in the behavior more often
  • Isolating oneself in order to engage in the behavior without friends or family knowing about it

The Sovereign Way of treating behavior health

Sovereign Health provides an all-encompassing range of behavioral health services in the state of Florida. Along with drug and alcohol addiction, we also treat behavioral addictions and the mental disorders that commonly co-occur with them. Each of our scenic and comfortable treatment facilities located throughout the nation emphasize our basic philosophy known as The Sovereign Way. This approach acknowledges each patient’s individual needs by providing them with a treatment plan that is intended for their specific recovery.

  • We critically assess and clinically treat our patients with evidence-based modalities. This includes utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is an effective way to address the illogical thoughts that fuel problematic behaviors.
  • The many programs we offer also incorporate holistic, therapeutic elements, including yoga, meditation, recreational therapy and expressive art therapy, among many others.
  • We also dedicate our time to educating our patients and equipping them with practical life skills. These comprehensive resources smooth the transition into day-to-day life while also helping alumni resist relapse in the future.

Every step along The Sovereign Way brings a person closer to a happy and healthy existence. To learn more about your options under our care, explore our website or contact a qualified admissions consultant.

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The dual diagnosis program was what attracted me to Sovereign Health. My therapist was always open for discussion and the group sessions were very informative and educational.

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