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How Can You Be “Addicted” to a Behavior?


In the world of addiction treatment, there are two major areas of concern: addiction to substances, and addiction to patterns of behavior. Substance addictions involve abuse of and dependency upon chemicals such as alcohol, nicotine, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine.

Behavioral addictions, often called “process” addictions, involve problematic repetitive behavior patterns involving potentially pleasurable or compulsive activities such as gambling, sex, working, spending, eating, etc. Some individuals struggle with both types of addiction simultaneously.

Sadly, the general public often mistakenly views process addictions as “moral flaws” or as “less serious” than substance addictions, yet those of us who treat these concerns directly witness firsthand the countless ways in which out-of-control impulsive, compulsive, and addictive behaviors wreak as much havoc on families, careers, and lives as drug addiction and alcoholism.

We also see that process addictions often contribute significantly to substance abuse relapse.

-8 Comments to
How Can You Be “Addicted” to a Behavior?

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  1. Extremely interesting and enlightening post. I am a recovered alcoholic in my ninth year of sobriety and I first came into contact with behavioural addictions about 10 years ago, in a detox unit. I was surprised to find in there a number of young women with eating disorders along with us drunks and junkies. Just as a matter of interest, would you think that this was the most appropriate place for them, or do they required separate and more specialised facilities? I hope you don’t mind, but I posted a link on my website to this post as I feel it warrants reading my as many people as possible.

 

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