Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Engs, R. C. “What Are Addictive Behaviors?”

Any activity, substance, object, or behavior that has become the major focus of a person's life to the exclusion of other activities, or that has begun to harm the individual or others physically, mentally, or socially is considered an addictive behavior. A person can become addicted, dependent, or compulsively obsessed with anything.  Some researchers imply that there are similarities between physical addiction to various chemicals, such as alcohol, and psychological dependence to activities such as sex, work or exercise. It is thought that these behavior activities may produce beta-endorphins in the brain, which makes the person feel "high."  Some experts suggest that if a person continues to engage in the activity to achieve this feeling of well-being and euphoria, he may get into an addictive cycle. In so doing, he becomes physically addicted to his own brain chemicals, thus leading to continuation of the behavior even though it may have negative health or social consequences. Most physical addictions to substances such as alcohol also have a psychological component. For example, an alcoholic who has not used alcohol for years may still crave a drink. Thus some researchers feel that we need to look at both physical and psychological dependencies upon a variety of substances, activities, and behaviors as an addictive process and as addictive behaviors. They suggest that all of these behaviors have a host of commonalities that make them more similar to than different from each other and that they should not be divided into separate diseases, categories, or problems.

Common Characteristics Among Addictive Behaviors

There are many common characteristics among the various addictive behaviors:

    1. The person becomes obsessed with the object, activity, or substance.

    2. He will seek it out, or engage in the behavior even though it is causing harm (problems with friends, family, fellow workers, poor work performance).

    3.  The person will compulsively engage in the activity, that is, do the activity over and over even if he does not want to and finds it difficult to stop.

    4.  Upon cessation of the activity, withdrawal symptoms often occur.  These can include irritability, craving, restlessness or depression.

    5.  The person does not appear to have control as to when, how long, or how much he will continue the behavior (loss of control).

    6. He often denies problems resulting from his engagement in the behavior, even though others can see the negative effects.

    7. The person hides the behavior after family or close friends have mentioned their concern.

    8. Many individuals with addictive behaviors report a blackout for the time they were engaging in the behavior.

    9. Depression is common in individuals with addictive behaviors. That is why it is important to make an appointment with a physician to find out what is going on.

  10.  Individuals with addictive behaviors often have low self esteem and feel anxious if they do not have control over their environment.

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