We’ve discusses previously that addictions come in various forms and can be based in the physical, psychological, or both. There is less attention paid lately to those that are strictly psychological, such as behavioral addictions. In order to best understand addiction as a whole, taking a look at all possible experiences of it is a necessary step.

How to Approach Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral addictions, like addiction in other forms, are misunderstood greatly by those who haven’t experienced them. Again, as with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, many people respond with the thoughtless: “why don’t you just stop?” The nature of all addiction is that it’s far from that simple and to boil it down to such a callous question is harmful to those in need of treatment.

It’s important to note that many of these misguided questions are simply a result of a lack of understanding among the general population. Though the conversation has been more open in recent years, there are still more pervasive questions and myths than answers and facts. While most people may know someone with an addiction of one kind or another, not very many “know how to respond or cope.” They can recognize that there is a problem in that other person, but they aren’t sure what to do about it, and more than that, they don’t feel as if there is anything that they can do. As a result, their conflicted reactions can serve as handicaps for the people who are struggling and could use support from their loved ones.

“At some point the behavior has become ingrained, compulsive, and, frequently, beyond their control.” This is crucial to an introductory examination of how these behavioral addictions function. Another key piece is that a “simple” behavioral addiction may develop farther and could be complicated then by mental illness. For example, a teenager suffering from an addiction to social media may find him or herself depressed as a result of it later down the road. Of course, depression as a mental illness has its own slew of issues and dangers, but having stemmed from a behavioral addiction, it can be even more convoluted than ever.

Where this began as an exploration of a purely psychological addiction, it’s been found recently that this isn’t necessarily the case. They “have a physical basis in the brain: evolutionarily, ancient parts of the human brain involving reward and reinforcement can become overactive, while brain regions responsible for exerting control over our habits and impulses do not work as they should.” What this means for treatment is that there may be a physical way to address this particular type of addiction if it is, in fact, physically-based at all. A part of the brain that is physically “malfunctioning” in some way can potentially be corrected with one type of treatment or another. As much as those with behavioral addictions would like to “just stop,” it’s physically impossible.

One of the most interesting pieces of behavioral addictions is that examples of various types can be noted across history. The clinical diagnosing of such behaviors has only really been around since much later (within the past two hundred years or so), but instances of, say, gambling that was regulated in historical society to prevent excess can be identified.

Like all other types of addiction, behavioral addictions need to be offered comprehensive treatment for whatever specific struggle the individual is facing. If you have an addiction issue of any kind, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.