What’s the difference between drug addiction and behavioral addiction and what characteristics do they share? Find out here.

When you hear the word “addiction,” you generally think of drug addiction and alcoholism. Yet, there are other forms of addiction that can be just as destructive.

In 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) introduced a new category of addictions that was entirely related to behaviors instead of substances. This also brings up other questions such as how these addictions mirror drug addiction, if at all, and the best way to provide addiction treatment for those who want help.

What is Behavioral Addiction?

Also sometimes called “process addictions,” behavioral addiction refers to a person becoming addicted to certain activities. These might include such things as shoppingvideo gamessexexercisegambling, and eating. There is still a debate raging about whether or not behavioral addictions should be classified as “real” addictions, but there is evidence showing that these activities closely resemble those of drug addicts and alcoholics.

Similarities Between Drug Addiction and Behavioral Addiction

Addiction is a tricky disease. It is characterized by a pattern of behavior that may not make sense logically. For example, an addict will continue to use a substance or engage in a behavior even though he or she experiences negative consequences from those activities.  Once addiction takes hold, studies show that there is a continuous pattern of drug-seeking or behavior-seeking behavior regardless of its negative impact on such things as relationships, finances, health, and self-esteem.

Whether the addiction is to a substance or an activity, studies have shown that both share similar changes to the neural pathway of the reward system in the brain. A rush of pleasure from a dopamine release hits the addict whether it be from opioid use, sex, or exercise.  When drug use or activity turns into addiction, the person will become laser-focused on pursuing even more of those rewards by engaging in the same activities over and over again. It is often at this point that families are destroyed, consequences begin to pile up, and some addicts begin looking for a way out.

Options for Behavioral Addiction Treatment

People who are suffering from behavioral addictions may feel as if their addiction treatment options are limited. This may be true to an extent. Some treatment facilities do not know how to appropriately address these issues, so it is important that you choose a rehab that understands process addictions. There has been success in treating behavioral addiction with approaches such as motivational interviewing, which is similar to some of the methods used to treat drug addiction and co-occurring disorders.

Whether you only have a behavioral addiction or this is something that exists alongside a drug and alcohol problem, the addiction experts at The Recovery Village can help. Our comprehensive addiction treatment program is tailored to each client’s individual needs. We treat substance use disorders, alcoholism, behavioral addictions, and co-occurring disorders. Contact us now to discuss your behavioral addiction treatment options with one of our knowledgeable and compassionate addiction specialists.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.