Although not dependent on substances, Behavioral Addictions are very dangerous and harmful. In this article, we’ll talk about which ones have the greatest impact.
Behavioral Addictions are those that do not involve substances or drugs. People who suffer from it experience considerable deterioration in all areas of their lives, especially family, financial and professional matters. Although with certain nuances, they have characteristics and consequences very similar to those of drug addiction.
According to the study by José de Sola Gutiérrez (2014), the common criteria between the two can be summarized as follows:
Ability to “engage” in behaviors that reinforce consequences.
Excessive concern about use or behaviors that signal positive reinforcement
Tolerance or temporary level of satiety
Loss of control, where the frequency of the behavior is increased each time more automatically
Difficulty stopping or avoiding such behavior, despite the existence of significant negative consequences
Thus, the dependent person enters a vicious cycle of “consumption / behavior – abstinence – craving” in which the drug or addictive behavior is placed at the center of his life. Virtually all of the behaviors she engages in are by and for research and consumption.
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Difference between Drug Addiction and Behavioral Addictions
As we have already mentioned, the two types share many characteristics. Chemical addictions and behavioral addictions lead to dependence, abstinence syndrome and tolerance. However, the main differences should be taken into account when considering treatment.
The first difference is abstinence syndrome. In drug addiction, the physiological nature of the substance means that once it is consumed, abstinence goes away. This does not necessarily happen with behavioral addictions, that is, abstinence does not go away even when the addictive behavior is performed.
The second difference concerns the co-morbidity between substances or sources of addiction. In drug addiction, poly-drug addiction is very common (use of various types of drugs). In substance-free addictions, it is not common to have multiple addictions (for example, pathological gambling and work addiction).
Common Types of Behavioral Addictions
Formerly known as ludopathy, it is defined as non-adaptive, persistent and recurring gambling behavior. The person usually begins to play gradually, and the amounts and frequency gradually increase. Between the economic losses this produces and the addiction itself, the person gets into debt and accumulates financial, professional, family and even legal problems. Finally, it is the family members themselves or relatives who generally oblige them to undergo treatment.
In this typology, we can say that new technologies increasingly facilitate the initiation and maintenance of gambling behaviors. Online gambling halls and online betting have increased the number of cases and the difficulty of processing.
Also known as shopaholic, this addiction is characterized by the compulsiveand impulsive purchase of products for no reason or need. Usually, these are not expensive products, but rather multiple small purchases that put a strain on a person’s finances. It is characteristic of industrialized countries and is aggravated by card payment because the money spent is not physically collected.
Normally, this addiction is measured by the number of hours a person spends at work without any financial or other need. The number one priority is employment, and she puts it ahead of the rest of her life. It can even put yours at risk.
The dependent person at work does not take vacations or days off, and when not at work, they exhibit the typical symptoms of abstinence. As in the previous case, work addiction is often characteristic of industrialized countries.
This addiction is controversial because there is a need to separate addiction and behavior. Sex addiction appears if the conditions mentioned in the first paragraph are met. We can say that in this addiction there is suffering in the person, because doing so does not relieve the person’s need, but pushes him to act again.
Belonging to “new addictions”, this typology has a high prevalence among young people and minors. Their inclusion in behavioral addictions has been the subject of long discussions, although it was ultimately shown that they belonged to this group. Screen addiction includes the abuse of:
Since their inception, it has taken a long time for behavioral addictions to be recognized as such. Today, the distinction between what is an addiction and what is not still generates controversy.
This creates a “moral vacuum” in society, which does not seem to be aware of the problem of substance-free addictions, which cause so much suffering.
In itself, it is very easy to achieve these behaviors: go shopping, bet on a slot machine in a bar, open Instagram, turn on the television … Moreover, it adds to the consumer industry. Through incessant advertising campaigns, it inspires and empowers the individual to carry out these actions, which are initially harmful but which, in some individuals, make their treatment extremely difficult.
In addition, medications and even some processed foods also come with recommendations on their consumption. This may be a first step in trying to prevent the onset of certain types of behavioral addictions.