An addictive behavior is defined as a person repeatedly engaging in a behavior even if it causes some degree of issues in their life. People addicted to a substance or activity may find it challenging to stop engaging in the destructive behavior. Addictive behaviors range from mild to severe, and some may have few serious life effects, while others can be destructive.
There are many types of addictive behaviors, and experts still debate where these behaviors come from. For some people, a unique combination of genetics, personality, and life experiences makes these problems more likely. Some of these behaviors involve abusing substances, while others may include activities such as gambling. Regardless of the behavior, no one knows whether a seemingly enjoyable behavior will become addictive.
What Is Addictive Behavior?
Substance use can take the form of physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction. Physical dependence occurs when a person takes a substance, even a legal one or one prescribed to them, for long enough that their body becomes used to always having it. When they do not have the substance, they may experience unpleasant symptoms because their body does not know how to work the same way without the presence of the drug.
Tolerance can occur with physical dependence and means that the person must take more of the substance to get the same effect.
If people increase the amount of the substance they use, they may increase their physical dependence on the substance.
These factors can transform a physical dependence into an addiction. While in active addiction people cannot control their cravings. They may find themselves taking risks, damaging interpersonal relationships, or becoming so physically dependent on the substance that they experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop using it without help.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance use disorder falls along a scale from mild to moderate to severe. The more criteria a person’s substance use disorder meets on the scale, the more severe their problem. The criteria include:
A person with a mild substance use disorder would meet only two or three of these criteria. Four or five would be considered a moderate substance use disorder, and six or more severe. However, any severity of a substance use disorder qualifies a person to seek treatment.
A person with mild addictive behavior symptoms might desire to stop using drugs or alcohol, know that the substance causes health problems, and experience some withdrawal symptoms. However, the person has normal social relationships and enjoys daily activities.
Someone with a moderate degree of addictive behavior might have developed a habit that they do not feel concerned about and do not want to quit.
However, this person may avoid activities without the substance, and their social interactions may suffer because their friends do not like spending time with them when they use the substance. They may need to use more of the substance than they used to in order to get the same effect, and they may find mental health disorder symptoms becoming worse.
A person with a severe substance use disorder might have intense cravings for the substance when they do not have it and may put themselves at risk to find or use it. They might experience serious effects in their lives and relationships, and their physical health may continuously worsen. They may also experience unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal, and if they do choose to stop using the substance, they may need to detox under the supervision of medical professionals.
Addictive Behavior in Residential Treatment
The goal at Everlast Recovery Centers is to give people time to start developing new healthy behaviors that help them reach long-term sobriety. In the absence of substances, people receive other stress-relieving options in our care, such as mindfulness and meditation, journaling, or art therapy. Often called complementary or accessory therapies, these programs help other treatments work better and help people relax.
At some treatment centers, some people may also receive medication during treatment to assist them with managing their behaviors. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) can work well, but some medications must be monitored because they have the potential for abuse and addiction. MAT should be used only as long as a medical doctor determines for each person.
At Everlast, we also use many types of therapy to teach behavioral changes, including cognitive-behavioral therapy. In this form of therapy, people monitor their own thoughts and learn how to recognize irrational or unhelpful thoughts. The person can then replace those thoughts with new, more helpful and healthy thoughts. These new thoughts result in new behaviors and help keep people from repeating past behaviors that caused them harm. At Everlast, you can be sure to learn the skills necessary to live a happy, healthy, sober life.