The Science of Behavioural Addictions

The Science of Behavioural Addictions

Table of Contents

Addiction is often a touchy subject that affects people’s lives in real-time. When it comes to defining addiction, multiple factors need to be considered. For example, addiction involves reliance on harmful and toxic substances and elements, including drugs, alcohol, etc.


One aspect of addiction that’s often understated is behavioral addiction. Often termed a process addiction, it is a lot similar to substance use disorder and affects people’s quality of life. From distorting their self-perception to debilitating different aspects of personal and professional life, behavioral addiction is a condition that needs to be discussed in the open.


If you are fairly confused about the prospect of process addiction and how it affects one’s life, you have come to the right place. We will discuss more about the signs of addiction and the addiction treatment options to recuperate.


What is Behavioural Addiction?

Defining behavioral addiction is a bit difficult, to begin with. According to the standard definition, this is a form of substance abuse wherein actions and experiences related to the addiction become problematic for the individual.


People struggling with addiction, especially the behavioral kind, tend to make impulsive decisions, which are quite problematic as well. Not only do these forms of addiction affect the person but also the people around them. This explains why identifying drug addiction and then taking relevant steps to address the concern is vital.


Most people experiencing these kinds of addictions tend to repeat the toxic and problematic behavior, even after they have experienced the repercussions. This explains why addiction is a chronic ailment that requires prompt care to ensure that things aren’t going downhill.


When it comes to breaking down the science of addiction, it is influenced by the neurotransmitters in the brain, especially dopamine. The correlation between dopamine and drug use and addiction is quite steep, which triggers many addicts to repeat harmful actions time and time despite the consequences.


What are the Types of Addictions?

Unlike substance addictions, which involve the consumption of a substance, behavioral addictions center around activities or behaviors. There are quite a few different types that are specified under the statistical manual of mental disorders.


We have managed to narrow down the most important ones:


Gambling addiction

This involves one’s affinity towards engaging in gambling practices, even when they have experienced the negative consequences of the game.


Internet addiction

A lot similar to the previous one, internet addiction is characterized by one’s excessive and compulsive consumption of the internet, to the point that it’s affecting one’s quality of life, career, and relationships, too. It can lead to addiction that’s hard to come back from.


Video game addiction

This involves an extensive addiction to video games, to the point where the individual is stuck to their system for hours at end. Identifying the symptoms of addiction in this case is essential before things take a turn for the worse.


Work addiction

While nicotine addiction is bad for you, being addicted to your work doesn’t sound as bad, doesn’t it? Well, developing an addiction, irrespective of the type, is bad for one’s physical and mental health.


Sexual addiction

Indulging in unhealthy sexual behavior like watching excess adult entertainment videos and pornography and engaging in risky sexual activities are a telltale sign that it’s time to seek help.


Besides these, there are a variety of other process addiction types like exercise addiction, shopping addiction, compulsive hair pulling, skin picking, etc. If not diagnosed and treated on time, it can lead to the development of drug addiction and other issues with alcohol and substance abuse.

The Science of Behavioural Addictions-1
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Behavioural Addictions?

Now that you have a comprehensive idea about process addiction, you must learn about how the issue manifests, aka, the signs and symptoms.


When it comes to identifying the symptoms associated with addiction, there isn’t a standard list. For example, some of the common signs of addiction include repeated actions despite the negative consequences. However, not every person struggling with addiction will exhibit the same symptoms.


Concerning process addiction, the following are some of the most common symptoms worth prioritizing:

  • Trying to hide the behavioral repetition that the addicted person indulges in.
  • Being unable to control the urges or control one’s self from chasing the addiction item, be it drug and alcohol or something else like food, clothes, etc.
  • Relying on toxic behavioural patterns to relieve stress or anxiety.
  • Having defensive behaviour when someone tries to enquire about the addiction.
  • Promising to quit or cut back on the habits but failing to match the promises.
  • Having a hard time managing the withdrawal symptoms and falling back into the bad habit.

Overcoming the symptoms of addictive behavior is never easy. It requires proper guidance and support to be able to ditch alcohol use. In some cases, environmental factors also influence one’s ability to manage symptoms, so navigating those is quintessential.


What are the Causes Behind Behavioural Addictions?

Simply identifying the symptoms isn’t enough if you want to overcome alcohol addiction or other kinds of process addiction. It requires you to identify the triggers behind the condition. Why did you become addicted? What’s contributing to your relapse?


Identifying these triggers is the easiest way to get professional help and prevent the development of addiction further.


Following are some of the causes that could contribute to the risks of developing addiction:

  • Having past experiences with trauma, childhood neglect, sexual abuse, etc.
  • Being genetically predisposed to addiction due to the same in an immediate family member.
  • Being impulsive and wanting to take risks in life without thinking about consequences.
  • Using compulsive behavior as a mode of escape and respite from stressful situations.

If you want to overcome your struggles with drug misuse and addiction, you must opt for effective treatment and support services. Ensure that you aren’t battling the situation by yourself.


What are the Treatment Programs for Behaviour Addiction?

Untreated addiction enhances complications, which explains why you need to opt for help and support at the right time and place. If you are using drugs just to feel good about yourself, you will likely increase the risk of addiction further in life.


Some of the effective ways to treat possible addiction include:


Outpatient therapy

Overcoming addiction starts with talking to someone about your struggles. For this, you can consider outpatient therapy with CBT, dual approach therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, etc. What you choose depends on the addiction and the severity of the situation.



In patients where the risk factors of addiction can’t be managed with therapy, medication is the best alternative. It requires consulting a licensed professional involving addiction psychiatry to avail effective treatment for your condition.


Inpatient treatment

If the process addiction is triggered by another mental health condition like post-traumatic stress disorder, inpatient treatment options are often considered an ideal route. This is ideal for patients who need intensive treatment that can’t be done from the comfort of their homes.


Your struggles with behavioral addiction don’t have to be a death omen. Overcoming physical addiction is possible with a proper treatment plan. The key is to diagnose addiction, identify the history of addiction and the risk factors, and then seek treatment for it. Your struggles with drug and alcohol abuse can be reversed with on-time treatment and support from a professional drug counselor.


Being addicted to drugs, alcohol, and a plethora of other behavior-led choices is categorized under behavior addiction.

If you experience a loss of control over certain behavior patterns and are compelled to perform that behavior, it is a sign that you have process addiction.

Behavior-led addiction can be treated when you consult reliable and experienced professionals in the field. The key is an early intervention when you start noticing the symptoms early on in life.

Contributing Editor

Troy Wakelin – Co-Founder and Contributing Editor

Recent Posts
Inspirational Videos
Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign Up For Our Quarterly Newsletter