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Behavioral Addictions

Generally, eating disorders involve self-critical, negative thoughts and feelings about body weight and food, and eating habits that disrupt normal body function and daily activities. Eating disorders are one of the most complex of all DSM-IV diagnoses and lead to unmanageability in life every bit as severe as drug addiction and alcoholism.

The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A third category is “eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS),” which includes several variations of eating disorders. Most of these disorders are similar to anorexia or bulimia but with slightly different characteristics. Binge-eating disorder, which has received increasing research and media attention in recent years, is one type of EDNOS.

Sexual addiction is a chronic and insidious condition, and it destroys lives all the same as a drug or alcohol addiction. People struggling with sexual addiction find themselves behaving in uncontrollable and compulsive ways, putting themselves and those around them in considerable danger. Sexual addiction does not get the same attention as drug and alcohol addiction, but it is still very real and very dangerous.  Read here about sexual addiction, its roots, effects, and how to best help someone who is struggling.

Shopping Addiction (oniomania), is the term used to describe a condition of unmanageability in life due to compulsive shopping.  With this addiction, shopping behavior includes inappropriate purchasing, excessive spending and out of control behaviors. It is characterized by impulsiveness, seeking immediate gratification, and a lack of control over one’s choices. Shopping addiction can wreak havoc on finances, the life of the addict, and the entire family system. Addicts experience a “high” from the immediate gratification inherent to shopping. Endorphins and dopamine, both naturally occurring chemicals at opiate receptor sites in the brain, are released on when the addict shops. The endorphins release provides the shopper feelings of euphoria and relaxation when making a purchase, which reinforces the addictive behavior.  Shopping addiction is arguably one of the most socially reinforced of all behavioral addictions, affecting as much as 6% of the population.

Shoplifting Addiction is a behavioral disorder that often results in severe adverse consequences to the life of the addict. Most shoplifting addicts do not steal because they cannot live without the merchandise. They do it to get the “rush” of stealing without being caught. Many shoplifting addicts describe the rush of shoplifting as being very similar to the rush of drug abuse. It is estimated that there are more than 25 million shoplifters in the United States who works out to one in eleven citizens. Most shoplifters do so at department stores, but supermarkets, convenience stores, and specialty shops are also frequent victims of shoplifting.

Internet Addiction

Internet addiction is characterized by compulsive use of the internet for variety of activities ranging from gaming to online shopping, emailing, chatting, and web browsing. Internet addiction is categorized with other process addictions like gambling addiction, shopping addiction, and pornography addiction. Internet addiction is not specifically indicated by amount of time an individual spends on the internet, but rather how that time interferes with and effects that individual’s home, work, and social life. When life becomes unmanageable as a result of a compulsive behavior, there’s likely an addiction to that behavior.

Work addiction is not considered by most to be a real problem, but as with any other addiction, millions of people suffer from unbalanced and unmanageable lives as a result of this disorder. While hard work and long hours have contributed to some of mankind’s greatest accomplishments, work addiction is not indicative of productivity or even having a job at all. Work addicts tend to be less productive as a result of failure to work efficiently and manage their own health and personal life in a way that allows them to thrive in their work environment.

Sugar addiction is commonly misconceived as a sweet tooth, or sugar cravings, but the fact is that sugar can be very addictive.  One of the major problems in the western diet is that sugar is everywhere and in many foods, which makes it extremely difficult for those who simply cannot get enough sugar.  While sugar addiction is certainly not considered a physical dependence it may very well be a psychological dependence.  There is much more research that needs to be conducted in order to find out the reason some people fall into sugar addiction.

Video game addiction is compulsive use of computer and video games to the point at which it interferes with daily life.  One definition of addiction is the compulsive use of a substance or behavior resulting in unmanageability in one or more areas of life (work, school, relationships etc.).  Video game addiction is an advent of late 20th and early 21st century society, as video games have only existed for that time.  Needless to say, it is arguably part of human nature that new vices create new problems.  Children and teens and went to video arcades to play video games 30 years ago, and spent the afternoon playing in a fantasy land – but that would end when it was time to come home for dinner. Today, arcades have been replaced by video games played on the computer or on a home video game console (Xbox360, PS3, Wii), enabling individuals to play video games in the comfort of their own home.

Pornography addiction, or compulsive use of pornography, is excessive pornography use that interferes with daily life. There is no diagnosis of pornography addiction in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV), and as with the broader diagnosis of sex addiction, there is debate as to whether or not the behaviors intrinsic to pornography addiction actually constitute a behavioral addiction.

Pornography Addiction
Pornography Addiction

People from all walks of life have problems with compulsive use or overuse of pornography.  They either cannot get enough pornography or they are not able to let go of it. Despite the fact that porn addiction has not yet been qualified as a true addiction, as it creates unmanageability in real life much the same as drugs of addiction and other behavioral addictions, it is treated as a legitimate addictive disorder by addiction treatment centers worldwide.  There is little debate in the modern behavioral health treatment field that individuals who abuse pornography display legitimate symptoms of addiction and require treatment for recovery.

Gambling addiction is a serious disorder that destroys millions of lives every year. No less dangerous than a drug or alcohol addiction, gambling addictions have the power to strip individuals of everything they hold dear, including self respect and their will to live. Along with the problems of gambling addiction itself, the consequences and potential fallout of severe cases of gambling addiction can have wide spread and devastating effects on the both the addict and their loved ones