When you think of addiction you may only correlate it with drugs and alcohol abuse. However, this is not the only type of addiction. Behavioral addiction is associated with a repeated behavior that causes harm to a person and that person cannot stop participating in this activity. Some examples of behavioral addiction are gambling, shopping, hoarding, and excessive stealing. Just like substance addiction, there are treatment options.
Substance abuse, heredity, and personality are all factors that feed into behavioral addictions. Typically having substance abuse issues are directly correlated with having behavioral addictions. Someone who partakes in binge drinking is more likely to develop an addiction to gambling and visa versa. Genetics also has an impact; having someone in your immediate family (sibling or parent) who suffers from a behavioral addiction, you are more prone to inheriting it or partaking in substance abuse. Scientists are still trying to figure out which genes are responsible for these addictions.
Similarly to substance addiction, each time you participate in an activity, your brain is “rewarded” with the release of extra dopamine from the nucleus of cells which is pleasurable and encourages you to participate in the activity more often. The brain becomes reliant on this activity for the sensation that it provides. A decline in these activities can lead to feelings of depression, a phase in the addiction cycle known as relapse.
Another example of a behavioral addiction is hoarding. This is when someone cannot part with their physical conditions regardless of the item’s monetary value. This usually compromised their disposable income and safe living conditions. Hoarding, interestingly enough, is commonly associated with shopping addictions.
Kleptomania, also known as an addiction to stealing items impulsively is another type of behavioral addiction. People tend to steal often and especially go after objects that are not necessities or of much value. People who suffer from kleptomania, you will experience extreme tension right before stealing and relief and pleasure immediately after stealing.
Other types of strange behavioral addiction include pornography and sex, food, and even Trichotillomania, being addicted to ripping out your own hair and picking at your own skin.
DIfferent treatment options and therapy are available for those who experience any type of behavioral addiction. Some of these include Behavioral addiction residential treatment, outpatient behavioral addiction treatment, one on one counseling, group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT), or a wide range of twelve-step recovery programs.