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Behavioral Addiction Treatment

Behavioral addiction is as a condition where an individual engages in an addicting behavior continuously. The affected person is not able to resist engaging in the behavior, even though it causes harm to him or her.

Some of the common types of behavioral addiction include:

  • Gambling addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Video Gaming
  • Internet and social media
  • pornography among others

There is a difference between behavioral addiction and substance addiction. Substance addiction widely relates to the abuse of drugs. Most recovery centers are only focused on substance abuse disorders but some centers have programs tailored for those suffering from, behavioral addiction.

Growing research shows that behavioral addiction resembles psychoactive disorders in the way they influence the motivation and reward neural pathways of the brain. Treatment programs and designs for behavioral addiction are nearly similar to those of substance abuse disorders.

How to Recognize Behavioral Addiction

Many people can testify that they engage in some of the behaviors that leads to behavioral addiction but few of them realize when dependence knocks on the door. If you are engaging in compulsive gambling, sex, shopping or videogaming, then you might be suffering from behavioral addiction.

Here are a few of the warning signs that shows you are suffering from behavioral addiction:

  • Obsessive thoughts concerning the behavior
  • Hiding the behavior from family members and friends
  • Difficulties in quitting the behavior despite the negative consequences, such as health problems, financial instability or even failing relationships,
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Depression
  • Isolation

The first step when treating behavioral addiction is to get a proper diagnosis. Visit a reputable behavioral health center with a well-established history of treating these disorders or any rehab facility around you for diagnosis. More detail on some of the addictions is given below.

Gambling Addiction Treatment

Gambling disorder occurs when a person engages in gambling activities obsessively so much that he/she compromises his job, life, or family. Whether it's playing the slot machines or going to the casino and, gambling online, sports betting, or even staying awake for overnight poker games can amount to compulsive gambling.

You know you are suffering from gambling addiction if you:

  • Place bets more frequently than usual
  • Bet more stake than originally intended
  • "Chase" losses by recurrently betting beyond the ability to pay
  • Feel aggressive and irritable when losing or unable to gamble
  • Feel preoccupied with gambling all the time

When gambling finally turns into an addiction, those seeking treatment often report huge losses, including divorce, foreclosure, legal problems, lost careers, bankruptcy, and more.

Gambling addiction treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, medications (antidepressants and mood stabilizers) and self-help groups. People can also enroll for inpatient and residential addiction treatment programs if their conditions are severe.

Food Addiction Treatment

Everyone has to eat, but some people tend to overeat on some occasions. Food addiction occurs when an individual cannot control compulsive eating behavior. They appear to crave foods containing high fats, sugar and/or salt content. With time, they develop a tolerance for food the same way people with substance abuse disorders develop tolerance to addicting drugs.

People struggling with food addiction may end up obese, or acquire lifestyle diseases. Reliable food addiction treatments include 12-step programs, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication (Topamax and Vyvanse), nutritional counseling, residential programs and outpatient treatments.

Video Game Addiction Treatment

Video games can seem harmless because many people play occasionally without developing a problem. However, continuous and compulsive video gaming amounts to addiction. You know you are struggling with video game addiction when:

  • You're preoccupied with gaming all the time
  • Feeling moody when you don't play
  • Need to spend more time gaming to feel good
  • Lack of interest in other things that used to be fun
  • Playing despite knowing it has become a compulsive behavior
  • Having problems at work/school because of video gaming addiction
  • Problems with personal hygiene

Lack of treatment causes the addict to isolate from the real word which ruins their social life. Some of the common video game addiction treatments include peer support, family therapy, medication (bupropion), and outpatient treatment programs. 12 step programs and 30-day residential programs for video game addiction can also be helpful.

Porn Addiction Treatments

More than 200, 000 Americans are categorized as porn addicts with 40 million Americans regularly visiting porn sites on a given year. Signs and symptoms of porn addiction include:

  • Interest in sex is lost
  • Poor attraction to others
  • Spend a lot of time watching porn
  • Tolerance, watching more to get same gratification
  • Physiological symptoms include fatigue, mood swings, emotional distress, sexual dysfunction and compulsive masturbation

Some of the common porn addiction therapies include individual/group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), holistic rehab treatments, 12-step programs.

Programs and Therapies for Behavioral Addiction

Most of the programs that are used to treat other addictions such as drugs and alcohol abuse can be effective in the treatment of behavioral addictions.

Evaluation and Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is common feature of behavioral addictions because of the co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. A good evaluation process can be useful to identify any issues relating to co-occurring substance abuse and also mental health disorders that may be causing, contributing or in any other way influencing the addict's experience with behavioral addictions.


When they stop indulging in behavioral addiction, some clients describe feelings of agitation, insomnia, headaches, panic, anger and other withdrawal symptoms. Therapeutic support can have a good impact through this transitional period helping the client achieve stability in treatment and help improve the capacity to focus on healing and growth forward.

Important therapies for behavioral addictions include:

1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - the therapy focuses on rewiring the brain circuitry by modifying an individual's behaviors. It allows people to overcome addiction by replacing thoughts and feelings about a behavior with good behaviors.

2. Individual Therapy - therapy aimed at proffering personalized counseling and help.

3. Group Therapy - these are therapies including peer support, family therapy and 12-step programs aimed at using motivational reinforcement to kick out addiction.

4. Contingency Management - involves use of incentives to encourage people to abstain from addictive behaviors

5. Holistic Rehab Therapy - focusses on body, mind and soul. Uses techniques such as meditation and yoga to eliminate addiction

Treatment Options

A combination of unique therapies is chosen for a particular treatment. This is based on the evaluation and diagnosis results, individual choices, and goals of the recovery plan.

Family Support

It is very important for family members to engage in the healing process of their loved ones. They are encouraged not only to take part during the recovery process but also be part of support groups that are designed for family members, family therapy sessions, and personal therapy sessions.

Inpatient Treatment

With this treatment, you are given around-the-clock care where therapists use medications to suppress withdrawal symptoms. It is uncommon for people with behavioral addictions to use inpatient intensive treatments.

Outpatient Treatment

This treatment is designed for those who don't want treatment schedules to interrupt their daily routines. It is the most preferable treatment for those struggling with behavioral addictions. It is more affordable and the patient goes to treatment at scheduled hours.

Residential Treatment

In case of dual diagnosis where behavioral addictions co-occur with mental health issues, patients may get the most help from residential facilities. In these facilities, you receive 24-hour treatment where therapies closely monitor your condition.

If you are struggling with behavioral addiction, you can take advantage of free peer support, 12-step programs and family therapy. But if you desire a specialized care, contact us so that we can link you to most reliable rehab centers near you.

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