Behavioral addictions occur when certain behaviors create a feeling of euphoria, release, or reduction of stress or anxiety. The most common behavioral addictions involve compulsively participating in one of the following:
- Engaging in sexual acts
While many individuals can participate in these activities without developing an addiction problem, others find they are unable to control such behaviors. These individuals may see their addiction as their fault but placing blame does not solve the situation. Professional recovery help is required for any addiction recovery.
What Is a Behavioral Addiction?
The following thoughts and behaviors define a behavioral addiction:
- Harboring consistent urges for the desired action
- Realizing that your behavior has negative consequences in your life but continuing to do it anyway
- Becoming agitated when the addiction cannot be fulfilled
- Increasing the action in which you are addicted to experience a stronger feeling
- Neglecting social situations, work, your family, or more, because your behaviors have taken precedent
The need to participate in the behavior is just as strong as any urge to use drugs or alcohol, and the consequences of behavioral addictions may involve changes in relationships. Those who struggle with behavioral addictions often experience feelings of guilt and embarrassment for their addiction. It is important to know that behavioral addictions are nothing to be ashamed of, as they are no longer within a person’s control.
What Causes Behavioral Addictions?
Behavioral addictions are caused by a genetic predisposition, the individual’s environment, or a combination of both. Those who grow up in a household with someone who is addicted to food may learn through example and develop a food addiction themselves. Others may develop an addiction to exercising after discovering it as a way to release stress from work or home life. Behavioral addictions are generally developed as a means to cope with situations or emotions, but this does not mean that they are anyone’s fault. It is your responsibility to find the appropriate treatment for yourself and your behavioral addiction before it consumes your life, but you are not to blame for your current situation. You should not be ashamed or embarrassed about your addiction, as it is beyond your control. Addiction recovery specialists are available to help you end your compulsive behaviors and find a life that is under your control.