Many assume substance abuse and alcoholism are the two most destructive addictions. However, other forms of addiction can be just as destructive.
2013 saw the introduction of a category of addictions that only pertain to behaviors and not substance use in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).
It raised several questions such as whether or not addictions of these sort mirror addictions of other kinds and the best approach for those seeking treatment.
Addiction to behavioral substances or processes refers to an obsession with certain behaviors or activities. Common behaviors include gambling, shopping, video games, sex, exercise, and eating.
There is still much disagreement about whether behavioral addictions should be considered true addictions, but evidence suggests these behaviors are similar to those of alcoholics and drug addicts.
Similarities between Drug Addiction and Behavioral Addiction
Those who suffer from addiction may engage in strange patterns of behavior that seem illogical. If a substance abuser engages in destructive behaviors, he or she will continue to use or engage in such behaviors despite suffering negative consequences.
In cases of addiction, studies suggest that drug-seeking or behavior seeking behavior is a sustained pattern regardless of the negative consequences for such things as relationships, finances, health, and personal esteem.
It has been shown that whether there is an addiction to a substance or a behavior, both share similar changes to the reward system in the brain. Whether it be opioid usage, sex, or exercise, dopamine releases a rush of pleasure to the addict.
When abuse of drugs or other activities turns into addiction, a person gets locked on seeking more and more of the same rewards by engaging in the same activities repeatedly.
Family members are often destroyed at this point, consequences accumulate, and addicts begin looking for an escape route.