Causes of Behavioral Addictions

During the course of a person’s life, they may engage in different activities, which can result in addiction. These activities can include shopping, eating, internet usage, and gambling, which are behavioral addictions. In some cases, the method of classifying behavioral addictions is similar to drug and alcohol addiction. Although there is not a specific factor that decides if someone becomes an addict, there are similar traits that are universal to addiction.

Behavioral addiction is commonly referred to as non-substance addiction or process addiction. This type of addiction may result in similar negative effects related to drug and alcohol addiction. This type of negative behavior is associated with impulse control and can cause an individual to engage in the behavior compulsively. Similar to drug and alcohol addiction, behavioral addiction is directly linked to the “rush” individual experiences when engaging in the behavior.

There are common signs of behavioral addiction. Many of these signs are parallel to drug and alcohol addiction. For the most part, these signs are so similar because of the fundamental meaning of addiction. The definition of addiction is to be dependent on a practice or habit that is physically or psychologically habit-forming. Psychological dependence is more common in behavioral addiction because the addiction is directly related to compulsive behavior.

Any activity, behavior, or substance that has become the main focus of an individual’s daily routine, to the elimination of other activities, is considered an addictive behavior. More importantly, this is addictive behavior if it begins harming the individual socially, physically, or mentally. It is important to add that an individual can become compulsively dependent, obsessed, or addicted to anything. Research suggests there are similarities between psychological dependence on activities and physical addiction to the chemical. The research implies that these behavior activities can create beta-endorphins in the brain, which offer a feeling of being “high.” Experts believe that when an individual engages in the activity consistently to attain the feeling of euphoria that an addictive cycle is created. In some cases, this can cause the person to become physically addicted to the chemicals in their brain that cause this feeling. Experts suggest that this is why the behavior is repeated, even though it has negative consequences.

Similar Characteristics of Addictive Behaviors

There are several similar characteristics of addictive behaviors:

  • The individual becomes obsessed with the substance, activity, or object
  • The person will engage in the behavior although it causes harm
  • A person compulsively engages in the behavior and finds it difficult to stop
  • When the behavior is not fulfilled, the individual experiences restlessness, irritability, depression, or cravings
  • The person does not have control over how much or how long the behavior will last, i.e., buying six pairs of shoes when they only wanted a belt
  • Denying problems associated with engaging in the behavior, even though others notice the negative effects
  • The individual conceals the behavior after friends or family voice concerns

The Cause of Addictive Behaviors

Currently, there is no explicit cause of addictive behavior. There is confusion as to why some individuals are more susceptible to addiction, and others are not. For example, some people consider an addictive behavior such as compulsive gambling a disease, while others suggest that the behavior is a response to the combination of environment and heredity. The lack of consensus between experts causes difficulties with treatment and prevention. Some experts suggest total abstinence, while others suggest a moderate use approach.

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