With this type of addiction, substance abuse is not involved. A behavioral addiction can be any impulse control disorder as described in the DSM-IV-TR or as identified by a professional.
Sometimes referred to as process addiction, behavioral addiction is somehow similar to substance addiction, where a person becomes dependent on a pleasurable feeling that some behaviors bring about. Once dependent, the person begins to uncontrollably act out the behavior to feel the pleasurable feelings he or she desires.
An individual may be diagnosed with behavioral addiction if he or she loss self-control over that specific behavior and continues to do the behavior even if it is negatively affecting his or her social relationships.
Below is a list of behaviors that are known to be addictive:
- Playing video games
- Using computers
- Spiritual practices
- Taking pictures
- Using the Internet
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) identifies gambling disorder as an addictive condition. In fact, among all the known behavioral addictions, gambling addiction is considered the closest to drug and alcohol addiction. Numerous studies show that when a gambler addict is gambling, the same areas of the brain light up similarly when a drug addict is taking drugs. Furthermore, treatment for gambling addiction is also similar to that of the therapy given to persons with drug use disorders and alcohol dependency.
Addiction to sex is not formally identified as an addiction but its symptoms are similar to that of traditional addictions, including loss of control and ignoring risks.
Many professionals do not really consider Internet addiction a true addiction, but it can become a problem if someone loses control over his behavior and if it directly affects how he is at home, school, or work.
Shopping, when it goes out of hand, is considered as an impulse control disorder rather than a form of addiction. You could be a shopaholic if:
- you buy clothes you might not ever be able to wear just to avoid feeling sad.
- you have clothes in your closet that still have the tags on them.
- you buy lots of things and feel guilty afterwards.
Video Game Addiction
Studies show that addiction to video games is common in boys and men. For this type of behavioral addiction, the most common treatments include behavior modification and counseling.
Food Addiction and Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder affects about 3% of grownups in the USA. The symptoms include eating food to ease loneliness and emotions and feeling guilty after binge eating. The main causes of food addiction is not known, but it has been generally linked to depression more than addiction.