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Individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) are more likely to develop addictive behaviors such as gambling or internet addiction. If left untreated, behavioral addictions may interfere with recovery from SUD and increase the risk of relapse during early recovery. People in treatment often struggle with a wide range of maladaptive behaviors.
According to the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, “[B]ehavior science experts believe that any source which is capable of stimulating an individual could become addictive.” For example, “The change of behaviors such as gambling, drug abuse, computer gaming or chatting and internet browsing from habits into obligatory behavior, can be considered as the development of addiction.” Painted Desert Recovery provides women in recovery with the tools to prevent or manage behavioral addictions.
People with behavioral addictions are compelled to spend an excessive amount of time and energy doing specific activities. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “Behavioral addiction is a form of addiction that involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-drug related behavior despite negative consequences to the person’s physical, mental, social, or financial well-being.” The behaviors cause an emotional “high” followed by an emotional low. People repeatedly engage in the behavior in the same way someone addicted to substances continues to consume alcohol or drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Any behavior has the potential to become compulsive and disruptive. Some of the most common behavioral addictions include:
People may also experience relationship or love addiction. According to Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, “So numerous are the superficial similarities between addictive substance use and love- and sex-based interpersonal attachments, from exhilaration, ecstasy, and craving, to irregular physiological responses and obsessive patterns of thought, that a number of scientific theorists have begun to argue that both sorts of phenomena may rely upon similar or even identical psychological, chemical, and neuroanatomical substrates.”
Anyone can experience behavioral addictions regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status. However, individuals with a history of substance abuse or mental health disorders have a higher risk of developing addictive behaviors. In some cases, changes in the brain caused by alcohol or drug abuse may make it more difficult for some people to resist compulsions. The same areas of the brain may be activated by substance abuse and behavioral addictions.
SUD and other addictive behaviors share many known risk factors, including:
Untreated mental health issues often cause people to rely on maladaptive coping mechanisms, including addictive behaviors, to manage symptoms. Treatment addresses the root cause of the addictive behavior and focuses on providing individuals with healthy coping skills. However, often, people replace one addictive behavior with another. The clinical team ensures clients have the resources and support they need to avoid relapsing or developing a new behavioral addiction.
Addictive behaviors have the potential to cause a wide range of side effects, including:
Families often struggle to overcome challenges caused by behavioral addictions. Loved ones with addictive behaviors may withdraw or make choices affecting the safety and health of other family members. Often, the treatment for behavioral addictions involves family therapy. Clinicians encourage family members to play a role in recovery and take steps to address their mental health issues to ensure a safe and nurturing home environment.
People may find it challenging to recognize when a behavior becomes maladaptive. Behavioral addictions cause emotional distress, interfere with a person’s quality of life, and often leave people feeling out of control. Everyone has a different experience, and how a behavioral addiction manifests depends on many potential factors.
Some general warning signs a person may have formed a behavioral addiction include:
According to The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, “Growing evidence suggests that behavioral addictions resemble substance addictions in many domains, including natural history, phenomenology, tolerance, comorbidity, overlapping genetic contribution, neurobiological mechanisms, and response to treatment.”
Painted Desert Recovery uses psychotherapy and other treatments to help clients identify, process, manage, and replace maladaptive or addictive behaviors. Clients are encouraged to establish healthy routines and set personal boundaries to reduce the risk of relapse after completing treatment. Clinicians guide clients through replacing behavioral addictions with healthy alternatives.
Many people recovering from SUD struggle with behavioral addiction. Sometimes, the behaviors develop independently, and at other times, they are influenced by the side effects of substance abuse. The clinical team ensures clients learn the skills to manage their condition effectively and build a healthier future. Aftercare planning also helps clients avoid developing additional behavioral addictions during long-term recovery from SUD.
Anyone can experience behavioral addictions. Behavioral and substance addictions are generally treated simultaneously using integrative treatment. Painted Desert Recovery uses psychotherapy, peer support, family therapy, and alternative holistic therapies to help clients manage behavioral addictions during treatment for substance abuse. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (844) 540-0353.