Similarities Between Behavioral and Substance Addictions

Similarities Between Behavioral and Substance Addictions

Behavioral and substance addictions might be different in terms of the addiction; however, they share similarities.  Whether an individual is addicted to gambling or heroin, shopping or alcohol, there are physical and psychological similarities between the two addictions.

One similarity has to do with our brains, which control a wide range of emotional and psychological responses.  Such responses include appetite, sleep, happiness, motivation, fear, and impulse control.  Chemicals in the brain stimulate our pleasure centers, and whatever behavior led to this stimulation will be craved by the brain on a level that is stronger than rational thought.  These behaviors lead to behavioral and substance addictions.

Behavioral and substance addictions are triggered by an emotional need to engage in the addiction and by the boost of feel good chemicals in the brain.  Over time, this can result in a physical dependency on engaging in either the behavior or using drugs or alcohol.  The psychological effects of dependency are the same for both addictions and include lying, stealing, cheating, anger, depression, frustration, and anxiety.

Treatment for behavioral and substance addictions are similar as well.  There are inpatient treatment facilities for gambling disorder and alcohol use disorders.  Both addictions can benefit from detoxification, or detox, and even though it might seem strange to detox from a gambling addiction, it is necessary to restore the body’s natural chemical balance.  Gambling and shopping addictions do release chemicals in the brain that once the behavior has stopped, will need to readjust.  Detox from substance use disorders does involve physical withdrawal symptoms as well.

Recovery for both types of disorders will also involve treatment for psychological withdrawal.  Treatment will usually include individual therapy, group therapy, 12-step meetings, and family counseling.  The goal of treatment is the same for both types of disorders—develop a program of recovery, learn new positive coping skills, build a social support system, receive education on the individual’s addiction, and learning to live without the addiction.  Individuals with behavioral disorders such as gambling, or shopping addictions require the same types of interventions that are seen in substance use disorders.  All individuals in recovery will need to learn these skills!

Another area to consider in behavioral and substance addictions is that some individuals can be addicted to both a behavior and a substance.  There are many drug addicts who gamble compulsively and many shopping addicts who drink excessively.  Both addictions need to be addressed during treatment, as treating one addiction does not necessarily influence the other.

If you think you may have a behavioral or substance addiction, call Hired Power today: (800) 910-9299.  We can help treat both addictions and get you on a path to recovery!