Behavioural addiction

Did you know that it’s possible to become addicted to substances other than sprays, powders and liquids? That’s right, while substance use disorder is a widely recognised issue, behavioural addiction is a less discussed but equally devastating condition. There are many forms of behavioural addiction which can trap a person in an inescapable cycle before they even realise what is happening. If you find yourself in the cycle of behavioural addiction, it can seem like an inescapable situation but Banbury Lodge has helped many people overcome behavioural addiction and repair the damage done to their lives.

Behavioural addiction - poker chip and dice

What is behavioural addiction?

Behavioural addiction, also known as “process addiction”, is a term used for an individual who engages in compulsive behaviours that can lead to negative consequences, despite the knowledge of such consequences. These behaviours may start out innocently but can become increasingly uncontrollable and interfere with daily life over time.

Addiction is a powerful force that grabs hold of an individual with unrelenting intensity. Through its promise of euphoria, it entices individuals to strive for the same rush time and again – at any cost.

Unfortunately, this desire becomes dangerous when life’s obligations take a back seat as addiction consumes everyday activities. The consequence can be devastating: breaking apart vital relationships and leaving lasting scars on one’s soul.

How does behavioural addiction develop?

The development of behavioural addiction is thought to be influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors. Some of the key factors that may contribute to the development of behavioural addiction include:

  • Genetics: Studies have shown that genetic factors may play a role in the development of addiction. Individuals who have a family history of addiction may be more susceptible to developing behavioural addiction.
  • Environmental factors: Environmental factors such as stress, trauma and social influences can also contribute to the development of behavioural addiction. For example, an individual who experiences a traumatic event may develop a behavioural addiction as a way to cope with their emotions.
  • Psychological factors: Psychological factors such as low self-esteem, anxiety and depression may also contribute to the development of behavioural addiction. These factors can lead an individual to engage in a behaviour or activity as a way to escape their negative emotions.

Once the initial behaviour or activity is engaged, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, which reinforces the behaviour and creates a positive feedback loop. Over time, this can lead to the development of tolerance, where an individual requires more of the behaviour or activity to experience the same level of pleasure. This can lead to compulsive engagement in the behaviour or activity, despite its negative consequences.

The development of addiction is complex and varies from person to person. However, understanding the underlying factors that contribute to behavioural addiction can help individuals and healthcare professionals develop effective prevention and treatment strategies.

Myths about behavioural addiction

There are numerous misconceptions surrounding behavioural addictions and without being properly informed it can be challenging to distinguish between what is fact and what is fiction. Here are some frequent myths about behavioural addiction:

    Behavioural addictions are only weak forms of physical addictions
    On the contrary, behavioural addiction can be just as serious and destructive as any other type.
    Behavioural addiction cannot be identified by physical signs or symptoms
    Like with other mental illnesses, diagnosis requires careful observation from a qualified healthcare professional.
    Many individuals think that once a behaviour has been deemed an addiction then it ceases to be controllable
    In actuality though treatment options such as cognitive-behavioural therapy can help those struggling to break their unhealthy patterns.

All in all, there is a need for greater awareness of the complexities within this area of study in order to ensure understanding and appropriate care for those who are impacted by these issues.

What are some common behavioural addictions?

While there are many serious behavioural addictions, some of the more common are:

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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders come in various different forms, and are serious mental health conditions that involve disordered eating and a relationship with food. Examples of common examples include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, night eating syndrome  and OSFED.

Eating Disorders →

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Gambling Addiction

A disorder characterised by an uncontrollable urge to continue gambling despite any potential negative consequences. Individuals affected by this mental health condition may find themselves unable to resist placing bets, risking their finances, relationships and health.

Gambling Addiction→

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Internet Addiction

Internet addiction is a pervasive problem that affects many people. It is characterised by an individual’s compulsive need to use the internet and being unable to control internet usage despite the detrimental impact it has on their physical and mental health, work or social life.

Internet Addiction →

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Porn Addiction

An obsession with pornography, which can lead to problems in your personal and professional life. You might find yourself spending more and more time looking at porn, even when you’re supposed to be doing other things. This can lead to fights with your partner, missed deadlines at work and other problems.

Porn Addiction →

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Sex and Love Addiction

Sex and Love Addiction is a mental health condition where a person experiences an obsessive preoccupation with sex or romantic attachments, to the point where it can severely impact various elements of their life. They may engage in risky sexual behaviour or seek out new romantic partners. Impacting both their personal and professional lives.

Sex and Love Addiction →

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Gaming Addiction

Gaming addiction, also known as gaming disorder, is a condition where an individual becomes so preoccupied with playing video games that it begins to interfere with their daily life, relationships and responsibilities. The number of individuals seeking help for gaming addiction has risen in the UK over the past few years.

Gaming Addiction →

What are the signs of behavioural addiction?

Caring for yourself and those you love is essential – if you or someone close to you may be struggling with a behavioural addiction, consider the following statements as an initial assessment.

  • I’ve attempted to cut down or quit the behaviour but feel powerless to stop.
  • I’m neglecting work, studies or responsibilities due to engaging in a specific task.
  • I’ve disregarded my hygiene since engaging in the behaviour.
  • I hide my behaviour from others.
  • I frequently stay awake at night to engage in behaviour which compromises sleep.
  • I feel shame or depression after engaging in the behaviour.
  • I experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when I can’t access the source of the behaviour.

Can behavioural addiction be overcome?

Yes. Taking the first step to understand and conquer an addiction can be daunting. It is important that, in this difficult journey, you remember to have sympathy for yourself; everyone faces adversity at some point in their life story – it simply takes strength and courage to come out on top of yours.

At Banbury Lodge, we recognise the mental and emotional toll addiction can have on individuals. We offer a safe space where those affected may heal through gaining insight into their own triggers and behaviours. Our hope is that each person who visits us leaves with renewed strength to protect them from future relapse as they continue down the road of recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a behavioural addiction, our rehab treatment programme can help them cut through the invisible chains and regain freedom. We understand how difficult it can be to cope alone – don’t suffer in silence. Our dedicated team are prepared to offer professional support and compassion on every step of your journey towards recovery. Reach out today for help that will ensure lasting results.

Frequently asked questions

Why are behavioural addictions becoming more common?
The rise of various types of behavioural addictions can be attributed to several factors such as the proliferation of online gambling, the normalisation of frequent internet usage and the escalating popularity of social media.
Which behavioural addiction is most dangerous?
It is not possible to identify a single “most dangerous” behavioural addiction as all types of addiction can have severe consequences. The extent of harm caused by different behavioural addictions varies and depends on several factors, such as the frequency of engagement, the amount of money spent and the presence of any underlying mental health disorders.
What is the difference between a behavioural addiction and a hobby?
The difference between a behavioural addiction and a hobby lies in the impact on an individual’s life and level of control. A hobby is a healthy, enjoyable activity that one engages in voluntarily and can easily stop without negative consequences. In contrast, a behavioural addiction involves compulsive engagement in an activity despite harmful consequences, loss of control, and interference with daily life and responsibilities. Behavioural addictions can lead to significant distress and impairment, similar to substance addictions.
How do you treat a behavioural addiction?
Treating a behavioural addiction often involves a combination of therapeutic approaches. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is commonly used to help individuals identify and change unhealthy thought patterns and behaviours. Developing healthy coping mechanisms and finding alternative activities to replace addictive behaviour is also important for recovery.
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Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 3757