Understanding Behavioral Addiction

understanding behavioral addiction

Understanding Behavioral Addiction


When most people hear the word “addiction,” they think of drug or alcohol dependence, and with good reason. In 2018, 20.3 million people had substance use disorders in the United States.1 However, drugs and alcohol aren’t the only sources of dependence in the U.S. Many people don’t realize that addiction can occur in many forms. A person can be diagnosed with a behavioral addiction that is just as severe as a dependence on drugs and alcohol. As a luxury rehab in Florida that treats various forms of physical and psychological dependence, we know that understanding behavioral addiction is crucial to helping our patients achieve recovery. Below is an overview of addictive behaviors, including their signs and the various types that people experience.


What Is Addictive Behavior?


Behavioral addictions, or process addictions, refer to a set of behaviors that a person becomes dependent on and is unable to control. Similar to drug and alcohol dependence, a person with a behavioral addiction may struggle to control their ability to not engage in this behavior and may even crave it. Despite the ongoing debate on whether behavioral addiction is a “real” addiction, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) does include various conditions that require further study. However, of these, only gambling disorder is widely recognized as a formal behavioral addiction.


Recently, the media and general public have embraced the concepts of behavioral addictions like sex addiction, internet addiction, and shopping addiction, as well as activities like self-harm and undergoing numerous plastic surgeries. Often, these behaviors are portrayed in movies in a comedic light. But while addictive behaviors don’t necessarily involve drugs or alcohol, they can still cause the same problems in a person’s life. Behavioral addictions can break down relationships, undermine trust, and put pressure on loved ones to cover up and make up for the difficulties of the individual’s problem.


Unfortunately, little is known of addictive behaviors among the general public, making it difficult for people who struggle with these conditions to get help. Without care, like our addiction treatment in Palm Beach, people who battle behavioral addictions run the risks of never recovering.


Types of Behavioral Addictions


Although most of these behavioral addiction examples aren’t officially recognized by the DSM-5, they have been noted to require further study. They’re also behaviors that are known to cause problems in the addict’s life. Additionally, it’s safe to assume that as these conditions become more prevalent, researchers will pay more attention to them.


The most common behavioral addictions include:


  • Gambling Addiction
  • Sex Addiction
  • Internet Addiction
  • Video Game Addiction
  • Shopping Addiction
  • Plastic Surgery Addiction
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Food Addiction
  • Exercise Addiction
  • Work Addiction
  • Tattoo Addiction/ Body Modification


Seaside Palm Beach provides several forms of behavioral addiction treatment, including gambling addiction treatment and sex addiction treatment. In addition to the other examples of behavioral addiction, gambling and sex addiction can negatively impact a person’s health, relationships, and finances. Without professional treatment, the person’s chances of long-term recovery are slim.


Signs of Behavioral Addiction


Understanding behavioral addiction and the signs of its dangers can help you identify addictive behavior and problematic behavior that isn’t addictive. Knowing the general symptoms and signs of behavioral addiction also allows you to identify any problems in yourself or your loved ones.


Common signs of behavioral addiction include:


  • Spending most of your time thinking of, arranging, or engaging in the behavior in question
  • Spending the majority of your time recovering from the effects of the addictive behavior in question
  • Become dependent on the behavior to cope with stress or negative emotions
  • Continuing to perform this behavior despite its consequences or repercussions
  • Having trouble stopping this behavior despite the desire of wanting to stop
  • Neglecting work, school, or family to engage in this behavior
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you’re not performing this behavior (like depression or irritability)
  • Minimizing or hiding the extent of your problem
  • Gaslighting your loved ones or practicing other forms of manipulation with loved ones to avoid discussing your problem


A common risk factor of behavioral addiction is mental illness. As with drugs or alcohol, people with behavioral addictions may find pleasure and reward in these behaviors and rely on them to escape their symptoms. However, addictive behaviors are also empty promises of relief, and the pleasure they provide is often short-lived. Those who do not receive mental health treatment are more likely to develop substance use disorders or behavioral addictions.


If you or a loved one displays any of the signs above, then it’s time to get help. Not only does our luxury drug rehab in South Florida treat behavioral addiction and mental illness, but we also provide luxury residential drug treatment for individuals with substance use disorders. To learn more about the addiction services we offer, call us now at 561-677-9374.


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