Behavioral Addiction Treatment
Behavioral addiction treatment can be complicated because no illicit substance is involved. Instead, behavioral addiction is defined as any repetitive behavior that the person repeats over and over again without considering any negative consequences. Common forms of behavioral addiction include addictions to gambling, the Internet, shopping, and sex.
Recognizing the need for treatment
Before a person can get help for a behavioral addiction, he or she must first recognize that the behavior is a problem. One major sign that a behavior has crossed over into the realm of an addiction is a feeling that you have to do the activity frequently or in inappropriate circumstances. Simply enjoying an activity or behavior is not sufficient diagnostic criteria for addiction. The compulsion to participate in the problem activity can be overwhelming for some people, so an addict may feel nervous, anxious, depressed, or frustrated when prevented from doing the behavior. The compulsive behavior begins to take over the person’s life. The addict may feel like he or she has to perform the behavior more often or for longer periods of time, even though the behavior feels less rewarding or pleasurable than it once did. Over time, the person stops finding the behavior pleasurable at all, but still cannot stop doing it. The compulsion may also lead to excess behavior that even the addict recognizes as being irrational, such as purchasing ten pairs of shoes when only one pair was needed or gambling away the rent money. The addict may also try to hide the behavior and may lie about it to friends or family. Negative consequences that can result from a behavioral addiction include financial problems and the degradation of relationships with family, friends, and work colleagues. In some cases, the addict may deny that he or she has a problem. The causes of behavioral addiction remain unknown, but it may involve genetic or neurological changes similar to those seen in people addicted to drugs or alcohol. Because of this similarity, many of the techniques used in substance abuse treatment are also applicable to behavioral addiction treatment.
Addictive disorder treatment
Individual Addiction CounselingIndividual addiction counseling is available for those who wish to take part in a detoxification program but do not wish to do so with a group. This counseling focuses on the problem of addiction faced by the individual, and then works with behavioral therapy and other methods to eliminate the use of the addictive substance.
All successful addictive disorder treatment programs involve developing a plan to stop the problem behavior and prevent relapses in the future. However, unlike a plan to stop substance abuse, behavioral addiction treatment does not require a detoxification period. Instead, someone with a behavioral addiction can suddenly stop the behavior without physical withdrawal symptoms. This doesn’t mean that there are no symptoms present at withdrawal, though. Psychological symptoms, such as feeling restless and having a strong desire to go do the problem behavior, are common for people quitting a behavior that has become addictive. The primary focus of treatment for a behavioral addiction is to teach the person how to live without the behavior, since relapses are common for people who stop a compulsive behavior without pursuing follow-up treatment. This typically includes a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and behavioral therapy. Individual therapy focuses on the underlying psychological triggers for the behavior, and the addict learns to identify and deal with stresses or daily irritations that could cause a relapse. Group therapy, including participation in a 12-step program, provides support so that the patient feels like he or she is not the only one going through this type of problem. Behavioral therapy teaches the patient specific techniques to use when he or she feels a compulsion, as well as teaching the patient how to organize his or her life to avoid temptation. These three types of therapy can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Even someone who is in denial can benefit from therapy, especially if his or her family is also involved in counseling. The specific treatment program should be tailored to the individual, since different people respond differently to various treatment options. If you or someone you know needs behavioral addiction treatment, contact our free helpline at 1-800-660-0986 or fill out our short contact form for more details.