7 Common Behavioral Addictions and How to Help

When people think of addictions, they often think of dependence on a substance, such as drugs or alcohol. However, it is possible to develop a behavioral addiction to certain activities, such as sex, gambling or shopping. Behavioral addictions occur when the desire to feel the “high” from a certain behavior is so strong that the addict continues to seek out the behavior, despite experiencing negative consequences such as the inability to work, have meaningful personal relationships or control finances.

Sex Addiction

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People who are addicted to sex are preoccupied with sexual activity to such an extreme level that it takes priority over all other interests, such as work and relationships, despite negative consequences including divorce or job loss. Sex addiction can be overcome through professional treatment that may involve counseling, temporary abstinence, medication or group therapy.

Gambling Addiction

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Those who are addicted to gambling often find themselves in debt, covering up finances and sneaking around loved ones despite knowing their addiction hurts themselves or their family. Many addicts gamble when they experience unpleasant feelings such as loneliness or sadness. To overcome their addiction, gambling addicts must find a healthier activity like exercise or a new hobby to partake in when they feel the compulsion to gamble. Gambling addicts may also find counseling and group therapy helpful for overcoming their addiction.

Shopping Addiction

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Shopping addicts often shop for material items to relieve feelings of sadness, anxiety or loneliness. Although many people enjoy the feelings they experience when they shop, a shopping addict will not stop shopping despite experiencing negative consequences like debt. Shopping addicts may find they need help in overcoming their addiction; many find it necessary to have a trusted friend or family member take over their finances for a period of time while the addict undergoes counseling.

Video Game Addiction

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People who are addicted to video games often engage in the behavior to such an extreme level that they forgo eating, sleep or work in order to keep playing. To overcome video game addiction, an addict must “detox” from gaming and replace it with real-life behaviors and situations. Furthermore, video game addicts may find counseling or cognitive-behavioral therapy helpful in overcoming their addiction.

Risky Behavior Addiction

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Regular participation in risky behaviors such as skydiving, bungee jumping or extreme sports can become addictive. This can result in an inability to experience pleasure from everyday activities such as eating or socializing in brains that are used to hyperstimulation from the natural “high,” or adrenaline rush, gained from dangerous activities. Accountability, counseling and the exploration of new, non-risky activities are often helpful in overcoming an addiction to risky behavior.

Internet Addiction

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Those who are addicted to the internet find themselves unable to refrain from going online, even when it has negative consequences in their lives. Overcoming internet addiction can be done through cognitive-behavioral therapy, finding hobbies away from the computer and talking with others who struggle with an internet addiction.

Work Addiction

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Work addiction often originates from a constant need to feel status or importance and occurs when one’s work constantly eclipses all other aspects of life. Work addicts often find that group therapy, individual therapy or a schedule that introduces moderation is helpful in overcoming work addiction.

Feature Image: Jordan McQueen