Addiction to a Behavior as a Sign of Substance Abuse

Addiction to a Behavior as a Sign of Substance AbuseBehavioral addictions are characterized by an inability to stop repeating an action despite the consequences. Common behavioral addictions include gambling, sex, videogames, internet use, shopping and kleptomania (stealing). These behavioral addictions can produce similar feelings that drugs and alcohol offer, as both addictions stimulate the brain’s reward system. The process of placing a large bet during a gambling episode produces pleasurable chemicals that encourage the behavior.

Behavioral addictions and substance abuse typically go hand in hand, as they tend to complement each other in a negative way. A behavioral addict my utilize drugs or alcohol to celebrate a large win she experienced during gambling. More commonly, a gambling addict will utilize alcohol or drugs to make herself feel better after losing a large sum of money. Either way someone’s drug abuse goes, drugs and alcohol complement the behavioral addiction, and behavioral addictions also complement drug or alcohol addiction. For instance, gambling or sex can be utilized to make alcohol or drug abuse seemingly better.

Promises Treatment Center explains how behavioral addictions often stem from past struggles with drug or alcohol addiction. In fact, many recovering addicts tend to struggle with sequential addictions, which means they overcome a substance addiction only to develop a behavioral addiction as they attempt to stay clean. Such people often overlook their behavioral addictions, which means they do not deal with these issues until the problems eventually cause them to relapse back into substance abuse. In some cases, the recovering drug addict will inadvertently use gambling, excessive shopping or kleptomania as a way of coping with no longer consuming the drugs or alcohol they once idolized.

Additionally, many recovering drug addicts develop sequential behavioral addictions because they were unaware that some behaviors could be considered addictive. They may have recognized that problems were occurring as a result of their behavior, but they typically do not think that the behavior has actually developed into an addiction until the see problems in other areas of life, like a drug relapse.

Alcohol and gambling abuse are some of the most common sequential addictions, as many casinos provide gamblers with free alcohol to keep them gambling. explains how alcohol increases the likelihood of addicted gamblers to place large and risky bets that they cannot afford to lose. Alcohol and gambling addicts tend to spend money they need for mortgage payments, children’s college funds and even weekly groceries. Unfortunately, when a gambling addict losses a large sum of money that she desperately needs, she will often continue gambling to recover her losses. However, when alcohol abuse is involved, gamblers typically take larger risks, so they lose control over how much they are gambling away.

Along with severe financial problems, drug addicts commonly have marital or relational problems. As a result, addicts may engage in problematic behaviors, such as marital affairs, gambling and stealing. An addict may come to find that he enjoys having affairs, going to casinos and stealing goods to pay for more drugs. What he may not know is that his actions may be both enjoyable and addictive. The concurrent addictions create a never ending cycle: even if he overcomes one addiction, the other will cause him to revert back to alcohol when he feels down. When two different addictions or disorders are present, then someone has a Dual Diagnosis, which requires specialized care.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders (such as a behavioral and a drug addiction) require unique treatment for people to experience any real benefits. Dual Diagnosis treatment provides that unique care by providing professional services that simultaneously addresses both disorders. These treatment facilities staff a team of professionals who are trained to treat specific co-occurring disorders. First, they will test the presence of any disorder, and then they will come up with an integrated treatment plan to address all aspects of an individual’s case.

One of the many benefits of Dual Diagnosis treatment is that they have a better understanding of how the co-occurring disorders interact with each other. The addict can receive a better understanding of how to overcome various triggers for both of her disorders and how to tell when she is in danger of relapse. Dual Diagnosis treatment is essential for people with co-occurring disorders, because treatment that only addresses one disorder at a time typically proves to be ineffective. People who suffer from co-occurring disorders commonly find that, when one disorder is seemingly overcome, (such as alcohol abuse), the other disorder can be more prevalent and simply cause them to quickly revert back to alcohol abuse. In other words, address both of your problems at the same time to recover from a Dual Diagnosis.

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If you or someone you know struggles with substance abuse and needs professional help, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day to help you find a treatment program that will work for you. Experience what treatment can do for you and call us today.