How To Treat Behavioral Addiction

We all have bad habits – things we know we’re not supposed to do, but we do them anyway. Maybe you make poor eating choices or overspend or watch too much TV. But if your bad habits are interfering with your everyday life, you might be dealing with something more serious – like a behavioral addiction.

Behavioral addiction is more than just a bad habit; it’s a compulsive behavior, driven by uncontrollable impulses. Without proper treatment, behavioral addiction can damage relationships, destroy families, and ruin lives.

Types of behavioral addictions

When you think about addiction, you might automatically associate the term with substance abuse. But performing certain behaviors can have a similar euphoric effect on your brain as drugs or alcohol.
Doing something that makes you momentarily happy can flood your brain’s reward center with dopamine, also known as the “pleasure chemical.” This can give you a short-lived “high.” A behavioral addiction develops when you continually perform that behavior to chase that high, even if the rest of your life is falling apart.
Some common behavioral addictions include:

  • Gambling
  • Eating
  • Sex
  • Shopping
  • Video Games
  • Pornography
  • TV and Internet

How to recognize behavioral addiction

Most people participate in some or all of the behaviors listed above. So how do you know when you’ve crossed the line from a bad habit into a behavioral addiction? Here are a few of the warning signs to watch out for:

  • Obsessive thoughts about the behavior
  • Hiding the behavior from friends and family
  • Inability to stop engaging in the behavior despite negative consequences, such as failing relationships, health problems, or financial instability
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Isolation
  • Depression

The first step in treating behavioral addiction is to obtain a proper diagnosis. To get diagnosed correctly, it’s important to go to a reputable behavioral health center with a history of treating these disorders.

Options for behavioral addiction treatment

Although behavioral addiction can have dire consequences, effective treatment is available. Through intense and comprehensive therapies, the behaviors can be curbed, allowing those who suffer from these addictions to reclaim their lives.

Because each behavioral addiction is so unique, individualized treatment plans are a crucial part of an effective recovery. It’s not uncommon for people with behavioral addiction to have a co-occurring mental illness or substance abuse disorder. In cases like these, a dual diagnosis may be given, and both conditions may be treated at the same time.

Commonly, psychological counseling is a significant component of behavioral addiction treatment. In these sessions, the focus is on identifying underlying issues, such as trauma or abuse, that may have led to the development of the addiction. Determining a root cause can help you to establish ways to control your impulses, manage your emotions, and establish coping mechanisms that work for you.

In some cases, medication may be used to treat behavioral addiction, especially if the condition is co-occurring with a mental illness. However, talk therapy, counseling, and support groups lie at the heart of most behavioral addiction treatment plans. 

Alvarado Parkway Institute treats behavioral addiction

If you’re concerned about a bad habit that’s gotten out of control, Alvarado Parkway Institute has the experience and knowledge to help you. As a full-service behavioral health system, we understand the unique challenges of behavioral addiction and can diagnose and treat both addictive disorders and mental health conditions.
Whether you choose a highly structured inpatient program or an intensive outpatient program, we can provide you with an ongoing support system to promote long-term recovery. Our competent, caring, and professional staff is committed to your wellbeing. Call us at (619) 667-6125 and regain control of your life.