Behavioural Addiction

When most of us think about addiction, we think about dependence on a substance, such as alcohol or drugs. Not many people associate addiction as an addiction to a behaviour.

Types of Behavioural Addictions

There are many behavioural addictions that are prevalent in society today (some more severe than others), such as:

  • Sex addiction
  • Internet addiction
  • iPhone addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Gambling addiction
  • Addiction to computer/console games
  • Facebook addiction
  • Exercise addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Love addiction

Symptoms of Behavioural Addiction

Symptoms of behavioural addiction can include:

  • Increased frequency of engagement in the behaviour, or engaging for a longer period of time than initially intended
  • Persistent desire to engage in the behaviour
  • Much time spent engaging in the behaviour, arranging time to engage in the behaviour, or recovering from the effort
  • Preoccupation with the behaviour or with the actions required to prepare for it
  • One or more failed attempts to stop, reduce, or control the behaviour
  • Neglecting other obligations (family, work, social) to be able to engage in the behaviour more often
  • Continuing to engage in the behaviour despite the negative consequences
  • Increase in intensity and frequency of the behaviour to achieve the same effect
  • Restlessness, irritability, anger, hostility, or anxiety if unable to engage in the behaviour

Note: not all of these symptoms of behavioural addiction may be present.

Negative consequences of Behavioural Addiction

These addictions follow the same brain pattern as substance addictions (alcohol, drugs) and result in similar problems in life. The effects of behavioural addictions include:

  • Impact on family (such as lost trust)
  • Social isolation
  • Denial that there is a problem
  • Discomfort and distress if not able to engage in the behaviour
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Financial problems
  • Instability
  • Feeling drained from constant preoccupation with behaviour
  • Interference in work performance
  • Less time to engage in other (healthier) behaviours

behavioural addictionManagement and treatment of behavioural addiction

Behavioural addictions are manageable and treatable. Treatment programs usually address the psychological issues faced by the individual with the addiction and focus in helping the individual develop healthier ways of dealing with life and the pressures they face. Depending on the type of addiction and its severity and duration, the options of treatment include the following:

Behavioural addictions are very manageable and it is important that individuals seek help from a psychologist for diagnosis and treatment, if they feel they are at risk of developing, or have a behavioural addiction.

To find a psychologist to help with behavioural addiction, please contact us today.

Article Title: Behavioural Addiction
Article By: Vision Counselling and Psychology, Perth, Western Australia
Web Address:
Published: 12/10/2015
“What are Behavioural Addictions”, Elizabeth Hartney (About Health), Available: (Accessed: 2014, November 27).
“Behavioral Addictions”, (Project Know), Available: (Accessed: 2014, November 27).
“Effects of Shopping Addiction”, (Addiction Help Center), Available: (Accessed: 2014, November 27).
Image Reference: Dollar Photo Club

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