Do Behavioral Addictions Exist?

Do Behavioral Addictions Exist?Over the last several years media coverage has shined a new light on compulsive behaviors and the problems they cause. There is a wide range of behavioral addictions that affect Raleigh Durham residents, including the following:

  • Shopping
  • Gambling
  • Overeating or starving
  • Sex
  • Stealing
  • Cutting (self-injury)
  • Tattooing
  • Gaming
  • Computer and internet use
  • Dangerous thrill-seeking activities

Individuals with behavioral addictions claim that, no matter how hard they try, they simply can’t stop engaging in these behaviors. Even as personal, financial, and relational consequences mount they can’t stop. Friends, family, and other bystanders are often frustrated and confused by these destructive habits. It may seem to others that stopping is a simple matter of willpower or self-discipline. But the truth is that for some people in Raleigh Durham these behaviors are every bit as addictive as drugs or alcohol.

How Behaviors Become Addictions

The pleasure center of the brain drives a wide range of behaviors by recognizing the presence of certain “feel-good” chemicals and then forming new neural pathways that hardwire those behaviors into habits. In a healthy person this is the process that reinforces things like exercise, hard work, healthy eating, and helping others. But for some people in Raleigh Durham the “rush” associated with thrilling behaviors works in the same way opiates or alcohol do in the brain. These people may be born with a biological predisposition toward chemical dependency, while others may self-medicate feelings of anxiety, pain, or depression by engaging in these behaviors.

Successfully Treating Behavioral Addictions

Because the root of behavioral addictions is chemical, treatment for compulsive habits is largely similar to treatment of chemical dependency. The first step is to detox from the addictive chemicals. This happens by abstaining from the behavior that triggers the pleasure-inducing chemicals. This usually requires around the clock accountability, strategic counseling, and education. In many cases, Raleigh Durham residents may notice that behavioral addicts exhibit symptoms similar to withdrawal, including the following:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Obsession
  • Depression
  • Drug-seeking behaviors

It is very common for individuals with behavioral addictions to also turn to substance abuse as a means of treating the anxiety and pain their habits cause.

Successful treatment requires that the problematic neural pathways are re-programmed through comprehensive rehabilitation. Individual and group counseling, education, coping skill development, and ongoing accountability and support are all therapeutic elements of this process that Raleigh Durham residents can employ. Depending on the individual, and the severity of the disorder, this therapy can be administered in either an inpatient or outpatient format.

Help for Behavioral Addictions

If you are concerned about your own compulsive behavior, or if you are trying to help a friend or loved one in Raleigh Durham overcome theirs, please call our toll-free helpline right now. Our admissions coordinators are available any time of night or day with confidential answers and access to the best treatment programs available. Call now.