Addiction is a progressive illness that intensifies rapidly until it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain a normal life and keep up appearances. The longer your addiction continues, the greater the consequences that can arise as a result. Whether these consequences are mild or severe, they can have a serious impact on yourself and your loved ones. The signs and symptoms may become increasingly evident over a period of time, but may also go entirely unnoticed. 

A person can become evermore distressed, aggressive, and deceitful when confronted about their addiction; a profound coping strategy to avoid hurting those closest to them. These addictions can cause great harm, and seeking treatment can help sufferers learn to lead a healthy, fulfilling life; free from destructive behaviour. When it comes to behavioural addictions, it is always wise to seek professional help if in doubt. Due to the progressive nature of addiction, early intervention is always preferable.  

What is a behavioural addiction?

Addiction can occur in many forms. Often, it is assumed that physical dependence characterised by withdrawal symptoms is required in order for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction disorder, but the fact is that behavioural addiction can occur with all the negative consequences in a person’s life minus the physical issues faced by people who compulsively engage in drug and alcohol abuse.

Addiction is no longer solely focused on the abuse of substances, such as drugs and alcohol. As we continue to learn more about addiction, society and the medical community now recognise that behaviours, as well as substances, can be addictive. Behaviours acted out in a compulsive manner, including gambling, screen use, and exercise. There is a comprehensive list below. 

These behaviours are commonly referred to as behavioural or process addictions. Behavioural addictions are often seen in people who may also struggle with alcohol or drug abuse, however, a process addiction can occur in and of itself. You may know an obsessive gambler who also abuses alcohol or drugs, but it is just as likely to find someone whose primary addiction is gaming. 

Some examples of common behavioural addictions include:

Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction has become a huge problem in the UK, one which has had devastating consequences for many people and their loved ones. Gambling addiction also referred to as “problem gambling” or “gambling disorder” describes addiction to any and all types of gambling or choices related to gambling that endanger or compromise financial wellbeing, and sometimes even their life. Unlike certain substances, gambling – like alcohol – is very easily accessible. It can be done at the casino, at high street betting shops and from any smartphone. The ease with which someone can gamble means that more and more underage children are finding themselves in real trouble. 

Food Addiction

Eating is considered a fairly standard part of our everyday lives. However, for people with a food addiction, eating goes far beyond sustenance. Those who struggle with food addiction cannot control their compulsive eating behaviours. They often find themselves binging on foods that are extremely high in sugar and fat. People suffering from food addiction may even go on to develop a tolerance for food, just as those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

Video Game Addiction

Video games have long been used as an escape from reality and the stresses of everyday life. However, in the same way that drugs and alcohol are used to provide relief for the user, gaming can produce the same feelings of euphoria. This is down to the release of a chemist called Dopamine, found in the brain. Similarly, taking on the role of someone else and living a virtual life can also be alluring. As compared to a substance abuse addiction or even to other process addictions, video game addiction may seem relatively harmless, and certainly many people can play video games on occasion without ever developing a problem. For others though, this addiction can be life-consuming.

  • Social media
  • Sex
  • Porn
  • Shopping
  • Exercise  
  • Work
  • Love and relationships
  • Codependency 
  • Plastic surgery 
  • Self-harm

Signs and Symptoms

All forms of addiction can have devastatingly severe consequences. An individual may begin to have an increased focus on a specific behaviour, for example, exercise, at the expense of other elements of one’s life (relationships; work; hobbies; school etc). Some individuals may develop health problems, undergo financial loss, experience changes in appetite and/or sleep pattern, and the individual’s behaviour may become increasingly volatile. 

Often this behaviour seems completely out of character to the sufferer’s loved ones. The signs and symptoms are all rather similar, but the symptoms of one individual’s addiction can sometimes vary from another’s. However, there are common traits to look out for.

Some consequences of process addictions:

  • Denial
  • Lying/deceitfulness
  • Manipulative behaviour
  • Isolating
  • Health problems (injury or disease)
  • Financial debt 
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Criminal record
  • Missed work/school
  • Relational issues
  • Increased avoidance
  • Inability to take responsibility
  • Suicidal ideation

One of the most common signs is intense denial. In the face of clear evidence, the individual often rejects any suggestion that they need help, even if they recognise they may have a severe problem.

Living with a person who has a behavioural addiction

It can be almost impossible to know what to do when you are living with someone who is suffering from a behavioural addiction. Addiction is a systemic illness; it affects everyone around the afflicted. Family members can be instrumental in the individual’s ability to address their addiction. They can help their loved ones accept the need for treatment, and be a positive agent for change. Attending things such as family/system therapy sessions, and/or support groups for family members can aid those around the addict in what to expect during the first years of recovery.

Addicts are powerless over their addictions, and those around them are often powerless to the addict’s behaviour(s). If you are struggling to know how to address this issue, or fear that you may be enabling the person with your best efforts to help them, there are professionals that can help navigate the seemingly treacherous waters; interventionists and counsellors can be of great help. 

Treatment

For someone suffering from a behavioural addiction, it can be incredibly difficult to stop without intervention and/or treatment. Contacting an addiction rehab like CATCH Recovery and speaking to our admissions team can help you better understand which treatment options are best suited to your needs and the severity of your addiction. 

Behavioural Addiction Rehab London

At CATCH Recovery, we have many years of experience treating all kinds of behavioural addictions such as gambling and porn addiction. 

If you’re suffering, or know someone who is, get in touch with our admissions team to arrange a free addiction screening, and they will be able to advise you on the next steps. 

Our outpatient clinic is based in South West London, which is accessible from anywhere in the UK. If you need support but don’t live in the South East of England, you may benefit from the tele-health services we offer. If you require residential rehab, we also provide referrals to rehabs in the UK and Ireland. Call us today to discuss the different options that are available.