An addiction is an addiction is an addiction. By definition, it means being mentally or physically dependent on a particular substance. The fact is, behavioral addictions follow the same pattern or cycle as substance addictions. So, where is the SUBSTANCE when we’re talking about behavior addictions? Experts tell us that humans create their own “pleasure chemicals” such as dopamine when they are engaged in activities or behaviors that they enjoy or in which they have great interest. So, there is a substance or chemical; it’s just created within the person!
There is a difference between an addiction and a compulsion, but both generally are associated with obsessive-compulsive behaviors. A compulsion is an intense urge to do something, The degree to which someone is DEPENDENT on something—even to the exclusion of other healthy, normal activities, including interacting with family, friends and co-workers—determines whether or not abnormal repeated behavior has morphed into a full-fledged addiction. When the behavior becomes routine, when it becomes part of the person’s everyday life and when it demands a greater and greater amount of that person’s attention which intensify until he or she repeats that behavior over and over again in order to seek relief and elation then chances are it has become an addiction.
At the Ark, we work with individuals day in and day out with many kinds of behavioral addictions. It is not uncommon for a person with an emotional or mental problem also to have problems with substance abuse AND with a behavioral addiction of one kind or another. When people are seeking relief or peace or an escape from life’s most pressing problems, the means may come in many forms. They include:
- Sexual addictions, including pornography
- Gambling addictions
- Shopping addictions
- Eating addictions, including anorexia, bulimia, etc.
As with substance abuse addictions, the counselors and therapists at the Ark look at the whole range of a person’s problems and design a customized, multi-diagnosis treatment program using a whole gamut of modalities to help the client escape from these debilitating addictions and compulsions.