Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Allied Sciences, Nehru Nagar, New Delhi

Behaviour Issues

Most people understand addiction when it comes to a dependence on substance such as alcohol, nicotine, illicit drugs, or even prescription medications, but they have a hard time with the concept of addictive behaviors. Yet, it's also possible to develop a behavioral addiction. In fact, people can get hooked on everything from gambling to sex to the Internet. Some activities are so normal that it's difficult to believe people can become addicted to them. Yet the cycle of addiction can still take over, making everyday life a constant struggle. People may seek out more and more opportunities to engage in the behavior. The desire to experience a "high" from the behavior becomes so strong that the individual continues to engage in the activity despite negative consequences.

In some cases, people can also experience withdrawal, including negative emotions and other symptoms, when they aren't able to engage in the activity. Behavioral addictions (also called process addictions) follow the same pattern as substance-based addictions, and they result in problems in many areas of the individual's life.

Behavioral addiction is a form of addiction that involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding, maybe non-substance-related behavior – sometimes called a natural reward– despite any negative consequences to the person's physical, mental, social or financial well-being.

The individual in question often spends the majority of his/ her time engaging in the behavior, thinking about or arranging to engage in the behavior, or recovering from the effects. He/ she also experiences symptoms of withdrawal (for example, depression, irritability) when consciously trying to stop following it.

Some common behavioural addictions are: gambling, technology/ internet, shopping, sex/pornography, and those due to excess intake of anabolic steroids/ exercise. These can be managed with timely intervention and professional guidance from a mental health practitioner.

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