In addition to substance addictions, such as alcohol en drugs, there are also people addicted to certain behaviors or actions. Within the addiction treatment, we distinguish these forms of addiction as 'behavioral addiction'. Common behavioral addictions are; gokken, sex and 'gaming'. This is because these behaviors easily lead to a sense of satisfaction and reward, making them an excellent way to escape the daily grind. Behavioral addictions are common and often arise from apparently innocent behaviors such as using the internet or a smartphone.
An addiction to alcohol and / or drugs and behavioral addiction have many similarities;
- Both addictions are characterized by the obsessive compulsive nature of the activity;
- There are withdrawal symptoms with prolonged abstinence or attempted withdrawal, such as changes in mood;
- Obsession with the use of other (daily) activities neglect or avoided.
What is different in behavioral therapy?
Behavioral addictions are distinguished from alcohol and alcohol drug addiction due to the fact that no physical damage occurs as a result of the addiction, but it is a misunderstanding that during the withdrawal phase of behavioral addictions no physical complaints are experienced. Gambling addicts, for example, may experience symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, palpitations and difficulty breathing during withdrawal.
As a result of the addiction, many people who suffer from the consequences of a behavioral addiction often have disturbed thinking, many unresolved emotional problems, and a persistent obsession with continuing to perform the addicted behavior. This always makes treatment for this type of addiction a special challenge.
At our clinic in Scotland, we help patients focus on the practical steps needed to break through and then change disturbed thinking and addiction behavior. For example, we help gambling addicts to solve their problems in a constructive and rational way. Examples include financial debt management and social skills such as assertiveness and learning to say or refuse 'no'.
People who suffer from behavioral addiction often do not experience the powerful and immediate 'rush' that alcohol and drug addicts experience, so during treatment we see a stronger thinking pattern that leads to denial of the addiction. A person with a behavioral addiction has to constantly work on the mental side of the addiction with the result that one is forced to constantly repeat the addiction behavior. For this reason, a gambling addict can sometimes spend hours at a time in a casino and a 'shopaholic' can therefore spend hours in a department store to find that one perfect piece of clothing again and again.
This complicated behavioral process must be carefully unraveled and analyzed.
Those who suffer the consequences of behavioral addiction often have to undergo a major change in behavior to regain control of their lives. Behavioral addicts have to learn again, as it were, to take responsibility for their behavior.
Our clinic in Scotland provides specialist therapists and a highly qualified medical team to help behavioral addicts overcome addiction and rebuild their personal lives.