Heather Fisher Professional Drug & Alcohol Interventionist

Process Addiction

Many people assume that the disease of addiction is limited to those involving alcohol and other illicit substances. Physical dependence upon a substance is not required for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction disorder. Although behavioral addictions don’t present the same physical withdrawal symptoms prevalent with drug and alcohol use, the mental and emotional symptoms are similar. The parallel that all the same negative consequences from addiction still arises in the individual’s life.

What defines a Behavioral Addiction?

The compulsive nature of the behavior happening is often indicative of addiction. A behavioral addiction can be defined as “the compulsion to continually engage in an activity or behavior despite the negative impact on the person’s ability to remain mentally and physically healthy and functional in the home or community.” The person may feel a rush from the behavior or find it temporarily intensely rewarding, only later to feel guilt and remorse and face the consequences of their actions. Even with the desire and agreement of stopping the behavior, the individual will not stop without help or intervention.

What defines a Behavioral Addiction?

Some activities are so ordinary that it is hard to understand how people can become addicted to them. Still, the cycle of addiction can be present through a variety of behaviors, causing the individual to continue to seek out more and more opportunities to engage in the activity despite the detrimental consequences.

  • Compulsive Gambling Addiction
  • Stealing
  • Sex Addiction
  • Shopping Addiction
  • Gaming Addiction
  • Food Addiction
  • Internet Addiction
  • Porn Addiction
  • Exercise Addiction

The mental and emotional symptoms involved when a person is struggling with a behavioral addiction include.

  • Lying
  • Denial\Guilt and Shame
  • Missing work school or other significant events
  • Relationship issues
  • Lack of self-care
  • Problems with sleep.

Sometimes the negative effects of certain addictions can bring about consequences that impair physical health. For example, someone with a sex and love addiction may contract sexually transmitted infections often, or STI with gaming addictions may suffer from headaches, back pain, and carpal tunnel. Yet, those things will not be enough for them to stop the behavior on their own.

When interned on or abstained from, physiological symptoms can occur like those seen in substance addiction, including anxiety and cravings.

What Causes Addictive Behavior

Many people do not realize that addictive behaviors are the result of other underlying issues. Although there is no definitive cause or diagnosis for all behavioral addictions, a few different factors can affect an individual’s likelihood of suffering from a behavioral addiction.

Genetic Vulnerability: There is substantial scientific evidence proving that DNA and other protein makeups within the genetic sequence may be responsible for a genetic predisposition to addiction. Children of addicts and parents with mental illness are at higher risk for future problems and may struggle with higher levels of impulsivity. Living in or growing up in an environment that is reflective of addictive behaviors also puts individuals at a higher risk for developing a problem with it as well.

Trauma: Trauma can be defined as an emotional response to a terrifying or life-threatening event such as natural disaster, sexual assault, abuse, neglect, violent crime, or combat. Trauma can change how the brain processes information and how individuals react to certain citations. To cope or gain a sense of control, individuals may engage in addictive and risky behaviors to distract themselves from uncomfortable.

Mental Health: There is a strong correlation between a person’s mental health and addiction. People who suffer from an anxiety or mood disorder are twice as likely to also struggle with a substance use disorder or engage in other harmful addictive behaviors. When a person struggles with both a mental health and substance abuse disorder, they have what is called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. Treatments for those with dual diagnosis are greatly effective and widely available in many inpatient and outpatient drug rehab facilities.

How to Tell If You A Behavioral Addiction

The following criteria are signs and symptoms that you may be struggling with a behavioral addiction.

  • Beginning to struggle with physical or mental health and a consequence of the behavior.
  • Interpersonal issues within important relationships in personal and/or professional life due to the behavior
  • Negative effects caused by ongoing or chronic engagement in the behavior.
  • Inability to quit on their own accord despite all negative consequences.

 Other symptoms can include.

  • Loss of interest in anything other than the destructive behavior
  • Withdrawal from others, depression, and irritability when the addiction cannot be engaged in
  • Inability to resist impulses.
  • Lying
  • Manipulation
  • Denial about the behavior or its effects on the person’s life

Why can’t a person stop their addictive behavior?

There are three distinct phases of addiction.

Phase 1: Curiosity and Experimentation – A substance or behavior causes a euphoria of feeling good.

Phase 2: Dependency– The substance or behavior is relied on to repeat the first time feeling of euphoria during times of uncomfortable feelings, i.e., a bad day, a painful experience, or difficulty in life.

Phase 3: Addiction – Euphoria and feeling good is no longer achievable. The substance or behavior is necessary just to make it through the day without feeling physically sick, obsessive, compulsive, emotionally distressed, and irritable. In most cases, the addictive cravings, urges, and behavior cannot be stopped without professional help. Addictive behavior is the sole coping skill and tool.


Why can’t a person stop their addictive behavior?

Seeking addiction treatment options can be a draining and confusing task. Utilizing professional interventionists can help direct your efforts and streamline the process of seeking treatment options. Utilizing an interventionist can help deliver effective and long-term results for the individual in need and the family system. After finding a professional you trust, an intervention team will be gathered, and a plan will begin to be made of how to get your loved one connected to the type of behavioral intervention plan or treatment program they need.

At Heather Fisher Recovery Services, we thoroughly vet all facilities before we refer them. Making the best match between client and treatment facility is the key to a successful outcome, that is why a large part of our time is spent touring facilities and interviewing staff before we will recommend them to a family. Based on pre-screening, presenting symptoms provided insurance, and geographical location, we will research and recommend three JCAHO or CARF accredited treatment programs to provide care for and treat you or your loved one at the appropriate level of care needed. We are not in the contract, nor do we receive benefits, kickbacks, or compensations from any treatment facilities for referring them. That is illegal, unethical and we would risk our licensing in doing so. Very simply put, if we would not recommend it for our loved one, we won’t recommend it for your loved one.