Comparing Physical vs. Behavioral Addictions
When people consider the term addiction, they often think about substances like alcohol, heroin, and cocaine. While all of these create significant issues in the lives of those affected, the spectrum of addiction is widespread. From shopping to gambling, many addictions are classified as behavioral — not physical. Here is how to differentiate the two and what it means concerning the next steps.
Zinnia Health offers comprehensive treatment for all addictions — physical and behavioral. If you require support for substance abuse, behavioral addiction, or mental health, call us at (855) 430-9439. You can also discover more about Zinnia Health’s treatment process and evidence-based treatment centers online.
What Are Physical Addictions?
Physical addictions refer to substance or drug addiction as it relates to opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, or any other substance of abuse. These addictions are often collectively referred to as substance use disorders. Users abuse hundreds of possible substances and combinations, ranging from illegal stimulants to prescription opioids.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), some of the most commonly used drugs that can lead to substance addiction include:
- Amphetamines, like methamphetamine
- Over-the-counter medications
- Prescription medications, including stimulants and opioids
Each substance has slightly different effects on the brain. However, all produce a pleasurable surge of dopamine — the neurotransmitter linked to your brain’s reward system.
The most addictive substances depend on the individual using them. One person could take prescription opioids as directed and have no issues. Others might fall into a deep cycle of addiction and begin experimenting with other drugs to enhance the high.
Using these substances for a prolonged period can significantly increase your risk of physical and mental health complications. Several concerns surround increasing overdose rates, as expressed by the SAMHSA. For example, death rates among cocaine and meth users are rising, and the country remains in a prescription and illicit opioids crisis. Alcohol addiction remains a public health concern, contributing to accidents, violence, cancer, liver disease, etc.
Since each individual differs concerning their history of use, varying mental health conditions, genetics, environmental factors, etc., their treatment plans should match the person’s unique needs. Tailored, comprehensive care is essential to treat physical addictions, especially when underlying mental disorders play a role in worsening symptoms.
What Are Behavioral Addictions?
Behavioral addictions involve the brain’s risk-reward system, just as substance use does. However, instead of involving a specific substance, it is a disorder characterized by repetitive, uncontrollable actions. A certain behavior, such as gambling or eating, brings a sense of euphoria or stress-relieving effects. Among those susceptible, these activities can become an addiction when compulsively continued — despite the negative consequences.
As with all addictions, a behavioral addiction will cause issues in everyday life. You will experience cravings; once a behavioral addiction develops, it can consume your life.
Examples of common behavioral addictions include:
- Sex addiction and problematic sexual behavior
- Gambling addiction
- Exercise addiction
- Internet addiction
- Food addiction and related eating disorders
- Video game addiction
- Work addiction
- Shopping addiction
- Tattoo addiction
These addictions can be easier to hide because you will not be heavily intoxicated. However, once your life begins to spiral out of control, the consequences of your actions will become more apparent. For example, gambling addictions can end in losing your home, and a sex addiction could drive away those you love most. Take action before behavioral addictions progress and seek immediate assistance for any mental health concerns.
Zinnia Health offers comprehensive support for all types of addictions and mental health disorders. Learn more about the treatment process and call us at (855) 430-9439 to discuss your options. We are available to answer your questions 24/7.
How Do These Addictions Overlap?
Addiction is defined as a chronic disease of brain reward, memory, and motivation. These traits apply to physical and behavioral addiction. Research shows many similarities between physical and behavioral addictions, including variables such as genetic and environmental influences, reward effects, symptoms, and appropriate treatment.
For example, the addiction cycle can be broken down into several steps:
- Intoxication or binging is the primary goal in the first stage, as someone takes a substance or indulges in a certain behavior, like gambling or sex. These experiences trigger an increase in dopamine, influencing your brain’s reward center.
- The second stage is withdrawal — as an addict comes down from their high, negative physical and mental symptoms surface.
- The last stage involves craving and compulsive behaviors to experience intoxication again. Just as an alcoholic will seek more alcohol, someone with a behavioral addiction may seek out new online gambling sites or spend money they don’t have to fulfill their need to shop.
Research also shows that behavioral and physical addictions are highly comorbid. As many as 54% of those receiving substance use treatment also exhibit behavioral addiction symptoms. The highest prevalence was gambling, sex, and food/eating, followed by internet gaming. It was concluded that greater emphasis is required concerning substitute behavioral addictions among those in treatment. Treating such conditions together will help reduce the risk of relapse and improve quality of life.
Evidence-based addiction treatment should consider your needs and goals to provide comprehensive care. Addictive behaviors, substance use, and mental health disorders should all be addressed. If you are concerned about yourself or your loved one, discover the types of treatment centers available nationwide.
What Are the Next Steps for Physical and Behavioral Addictions?
Whether you are addicted to prescription pills or gambling, withdrawal symptoms are problematic for all addicts — whether they struggle with physical addiction, behavioral, or both. This cycle can make quitting challenging without professional healthcare providers’ assistance.
Once you recognize signs of addiction disorders and are exhibiting a loss of control, you must speak to someone you trust. They will help you take the next steps in seeking inpatient or outpatient programs. For many, a detox phase will be the first vital step, followed by a comprehensive treatment approach. When looking for a treatment center, ensure they offer many treatment options, focusing on holistic healing. Some individuals thrive in music therapy, while others experience immense growth following wilderness therapy.
If mental health issues are a concern, your healthcare team can provide individualized care. Mental health affects physical health and vice versa. Whether you are living with PTSD, a personality disorder, or depression, help is waiting. Learn more about the treatment options that may work for you. By addressing these underlying conditions, you can focus on a more sustainable recovery journey — especially if you were using substances to self-medicate.
Zinnia Health is proud to offer addiction and mental health support to help those in need. We have helped thousands of people break free from the overwhelming symptoms associated with addiction and mental health disorders. If you or your loved one are ready to take the next step, please call us at (855) 430-9439 or contact us online today.