Neuro Harmony, LLC
Licensed Clinical Counseling in Charleston, Illinois

Neuro Notes

Addictions? Yeah, we are going to go there....

Aug 1



What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear this word?

Drugs? Alcohol?

Those are easily the first two most think of when asked about what addiction is. While those answers are spot on, they just touch the surface to a topic that is almost as deep as the oceans are wet.

It’s a nasty word, Addiction. If we are being honest, we all have at least one, if not many. Most aren’t even something we think about on a regular basis, and many of us don’t even realize we have an addiction at all.

To start, let’s look at how the word is defined:

From Merriam-Webster:

  1. a compulsive, chronic, physiological, or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behaviors, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence: the state of being addicted.
  2. a strong inclination to do, use, or indulge in something repeatedly.

Similar words that can be used are, but not limited to:  Dependency, craving, habit, weakness, compulsion, fixation, and enslavement.

(Note: This is the first of what will be a multipart blog about addiction. In the future entries, I will link back to the previous ones, so they are easier to reference.)

Today, I am focusing primarily on behavioral addiction.

The term "behavioral addiction" refers to a compulsion to engage in an activity that leads to reward, that is, something that desirable or appealing. Often, the reward comes with some sort of adverse consequence. We want to feel good. We look for things that bring us a quick "high" or utopian feeling. Most of these things don’t last for a long period of time, so we go back and do them over and over as we are looking to duplicate the feel-good moment, we had previously experienced.

Examples of such behavior include, but are not limited to illicit drugs, alcohol, food, sexual activities, and gambling.

So, this then poses a question of: Are behavioral addictions serious?

Simple answer: Yes!

According to the US National Library of Medicine, behavioral addictions, “resemble substance abuse addictions,” in reference to the impact on the brain and their response to treatment. Individuals often struggle to resist urges or temptations to reduce or stop behaviors that may be addictive to them, elicit arousal before completing them, and bring pleasure while doing them. Areas of concern can include the feelings of guilt or embarrassment after completing the activity. This is similar in individuals abusing harmful chemicals. Individuals abusing substances have extreme difficulty resisting the urge or temptation to use the drug and may feel pleasure from using the drug. Consequently, he or she may feel shame after completing the activity and may lie about it or hide it. This not only has negative effects on the individual involved in the addiction, but those they are around, love and care about as well.

Signs of behavioral addictions can be different for everyone, but often look the same. These occur when someone needs a large amount or constant exposure to the stimuli and pursue it.

Those with a behavioral addiction will constantly seek the thrill or rush of endorphins by frequent and increased activity. Secondly, behavioral addictions become serious if the individual cannot control or stop the activity. Signs of behavioral addiction include, but are not limited to:

  1. Experiencing "cravings" for doing the activity.
  2. Needing more and more exposure to experience the highs one feels while doing the activity.
  3. Doing more risky activities, taking more risks to seek the thrill.
  4. The inability to stop or control behavior.
  5. Feeling shame or embarrassment from doing these activities.
  6. The inability to stop the behavior, despite knowing the negative impacts on the body and mind.
  7. Using the behavior and justifying it to deal with trauma or poor mental health rather than getting professional help.

Other addictions, such as gambling and or a compulsive shopping addiction can have financial consequences. Something that starts small can put people into bankruptcy due to extreme credit card debt used to fund the addiction.

Phone, internet, and video game addictions often can get in the way of close relationships in the real world. People often become distracted using these things as an "escape" from reality. They can be used to ‘treat’ loneliness, stress or to fill other voids.

Help is available!!! While controlling compulsions can seem impossible, there are several options for recovery. The first step is to acknowledge the challenges behavioral addictions can cause, along with the need for help. This can help one to take control of their life. There is support available after taking the first step toward recovery. If any of these things are something you or a loved one are dealing with, we are here and would love the opportunity to help you on the road to a better life along your journey. Reach out and let’s hit the road to better days! Give us a call at [Please enable javascript.] today!

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