The Most Common Behavioral Addictions

Some of the most common behavioral addictions can be exercise, surfing the Internet, or diet. But what are their main characteristics?

The Most Common Behavioral Addictions

In our society, the word addiction is often associated with substance abuse. However, there are many common behavioral addictions that are characterized by doing something that is addictive. People use the same pattern of action in it that appears in substance dependence.

Addictive behavior is always a way out of reality, and using a particular substance is not the only way to do so. For example, a person who compulsively uses the Internet for several hours a day and avoids all other activity may be addicted to it.

Psychologists need to establish criteria for whether it is addictive or not. To do this, they record the time spent daily on this activity, if it interferes with the daily life of the person and if it causes significant discomfort or suffering.

Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral Addictions: No substance, but “addicted” to something

If we tell someone that running is a problem, they will react by surprise. He will most likely question our approach. However, it is obvious that we will need to be able to describe running behavior quickly and convincingly as addictive.

A psychologist can know, after a good assessment, whether or not we are facing addiction and how much we are. On the other hand, for society, if it is already problematic to detect addiction to toxic behavior, it is more problematic to know if it is an activity addiction.

Characteristics of Behavioral Addictions

Main Characteristics of Behavioral Addictions

They are the following:

  • Behavioral addictions are repetitive behaviors which, at least in the early stages, are pleasurable and generate psychological dependence and loss of control.
  • The hallmark of the addiction process is NOT the behavior itself (for example, work), but the way the person relates to that behavior.
  • It is urgent to implement this behavior; despite the interference it causes (loss of family, health, etc.).
  • These behaviors are not included as mental disorders in the DSM or DCI, with the exception of pathological gambling.

Therefore, with this definition, the term dependency is extended and adapted to new realities. The emergence of new technologies and sedentary lifestyles make, for example, addiction to new technologies just as problematic as addiction to substances.

Internet Addiction

Internet Addiction, one of the Common Behavioral Addictions

If there is one thing that characterizes today’s society, it is the massive use of the Internet. We need the internet to make bank transfers, write e-mails, perform bureaucratic procedures, or telecommute more and more widely.

Although these uses would be the means to justify the daily use of the network in an optimal and necessary way, we all know that our actual use goes much further. The main one, for what could be termed “recreational” purposes, is the use of social networks, online video games, or posting in various online forums or chats.

But when does this use become addictive?

What are the Characteristics of Internet Addiction?

  • Excessive use in hourly volume: 40-80 hours per week with up to 20 hours of uninterrupted sessions
  • Concealment of addictive behavior
  • Use of stimulants
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Academic or professional disability
  • Health problems (for example, carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • The addiction is usually to a particular application which acts as a trigger for excessive internet use

As this set of characteristics shows, internet addiction exhibits patterns of abuse and obvious symptoms. Sometimes we ourselves do not know how to distinguish between compulsory work-related Internet use and addictive behavior. These characteristics are an obvious help to guide us.

Food Addiction or Overeating

Food Addiction or Overeating

Problems related to diet are usually studied in relation to bulimia and anorexia. However, in the food addiction, there is no concern about figure or weight. It has, moreover, all the elements to be considered as an addiction strictly speaking.

What are the Characteristics of Food Addiction?

  • Eat voraciously
  • Eat large amounts of food without feeling physically hungry
  • Continue to eat until you feel an unpleasant feeling of fullness
  • Feeling of guilt and desolation after eating too much.
  • Importance of emotional aspects.

Binge eating is usually the result of long-lasting anxiety and depression. Thus, food addiction has certain peculiarities that keep it away from eating disorders. One of the biggest challenges is how to properly diagnose it.

Physical Exercise Addiction, one of the Common Behavioral Addictions

Physical Exercise Addiction, one of the Common Behavioral Addictions

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, behaviors such as running or exercising are far from being conceptualized as negative. However, there is an addiction to exercise as an avoidance of other activities. Let’s take a look at the main features of exercise addiction:

  • Excessive concern and obsessive thoughts about exercise
  • Maintaining physical exercise despite injury or illness
  • Presence of withdrawal symptoms when not exercising

Addiction to Shopping, Work and Sex

Addiction to Shopping, Work and Sex

There are other very common behavioral addictions which, while not listed in diagnostic manuals, are just as problematic as any substance addiction. They cause the same interference in a person’s life than the dependencies described in the … Cracking The Behavioral Addictions Secret

Shopping Addiction

Shopping Addiction

In general, shopping addiction occurs in a woman aged 30 to 40. It begins between the ages of 18 and 20 and operates continuously. There is strong co morbidity with anxiety, depression, substance dependence and eating disorders.

Before shopping, the person usually has a dysphoric mood followed by excitement about shopping. Various superfluous items are pleasantly purchased to make room for regret for money spent and loss of control. This cycle is repeated endlessly to avoid increasing discomfort.

Work Addiction

Work Addiction

In this addiction, the person has recurring thoughts about the need to produce, in addition to cognitive distortions about the demands of the job. Irritability, anxiety and a labile state of mind occur when job performance is hampered, for example, by vacation periods.

The Sex Addiction

The Sex Addiction

The person who has it has impulsive sexual behaviors that they cannot control, even if they do not want to adopt them. This is unwanted and unspeakable behavior. Personal and emotional satisfaction comes exclusively through consensual sex with adults as well as paraphilic behavior.

Behavioral Addictions: Behavior as a Source of Gratification

In all of these common behavioral addictions, the onset of the problem is that the behavior appears to be the main and exclusive source of gratification. Many of these behaviors are not inherently pathological and are even, in many cases, socially accepted and valued.

Therefore, it should be remembered that in order to be considered addictive behavior, the following clinical characteristics must be present: loss of behavioral control, psychological dependence or envy, tolerance, abstinence and serious adverse effects. And you, do you have behavioral addictions?


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