Behavioral Addictions Treatment

What is behavioral or process addiction?

Before we go more into the details about behavioral addictions treatment let’s first understand the basic which is what is a behavioral addiction?

It is a common understanding that addiction means being dependent on a substance such as alcohol like beer, wine or hard liquor, harmful drugs, and certain prescription medications, etc.

However, you can be addicted to all sorts of things and behaviors. And the effect and withdrawal issue of behavioral addiction on any person is similar to substance addiction.

People experience a “high” from the particular behavior and it slowly becomes very difficult to stop partaking in the activity even when there are negative repercussions.

Behavioral addiction is also known as process addiction or non-substance addiction.

Some activities that can become unmanageable in people leading to behavioral addictions include shopping, gambling, Internet, sex, self-harm, and a few others.

People seek relief in shopping, or by playing games. This goes on to become a coping mechanism, with the brain starting to warrant the behavior.

Ahndrea Weiner, an adjunct professor at the Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology explains that this behavior is being related to survival.

People without addiction will stop the behavior upon finding negative consequences, but for those with addiction, it is simply survival.

Using the internet, going shopping, and playing games are all normal activities people do every day which makes it difficult to spot when people start getting or become addicted to them.

However, there are signs and symptoms to help detect these addictive behaviors such as mental health and physical health, trouble in relationships at home and work, and inability to stop participating in the activity et cetera.

These are basic signs that could point to an addiction problem. The immediate reward received upon engaging in the activity can be addictive for some individuals.

When you understand the psychological dependence and recognize symptoms, you can seek addiction treatment early.

Types of behavioral addiction

Below are some addictions that fall under behavioral addiction category:

  • Sex

Sex can turn into an unhealthy obsession that disrupts relationships as people can go to extreme lengths to satisfy their desires. It is also referred to as hypersexual disorder where individuals spend hours thinking about and taking part in sexual activities.

Additionally, they will also spend a lot of money chasing satisfaction through pornography, strip clubs, prostitution, and other means.

If you or loved is this with this type of behavioral addiction please get help from one of the sex rehabs in the country immediately.

  • Gambling

Gambling, when done excessively, without any regard for consequences, can turn into an addiction also known as compulsive gambling.

People can sit for hours at a table, gaming or betting, and winning or losing thousands of dollars at a time.

  • Food

It is common for everyone to indulge in over-eating, especially foods high in fats and sugar. However, people with addictive problems would crave for more of such foods to feel satisfied.

Food disorder is a serious problem that requires the best treatment and rehab. It is one of the most common process addictions or mental disorders.

  • Internet

Internet addiction treatment is becoming popular because of the online use disorder growing problems in our society. While the internet is a crucial part of our lives, some people can find it extremely tough to not be online all the time.

They feel as if they are missing out on things, and compulsively check apps and updates.

  • Pornography

One of the most serious behavioral addiction treatment sort after is pornography use disorder.

Porn addiction is bound to become detrimental to someone’s health and relationships.

This happens when it becomes next to impossible for people to engage in sexual activities without porn, or it affects their ability to carry out their daily tasks. And when they try to stop can lead to severe withdrawals.

Porn addiction withdrawal can be just as bad as substance abuse withdrawals which shows how serious of an addiction it is. This is why if you notice the porn addiction symptoms or signs for yourself or your loved one seek professional rehabilitation help immediately.

  • Video Games

Uncontrolled and unmanageable use of video games hinders the capacity of an individual to have normal connections with other people and to be employed. Such individuals can become socially isolated and have other emotional issues.

  • Work

Since addictions take time to develop, it may not be diagnosed immediately, and work addiction is a typical example.

Workaholics, as they are called, may not be completely aware that they are foregoing every other activity for work.

There is a need to attain status and success.

  • Exercise

There are obvious benefits of regular exercise for both physical and emotional well-being.

Nevertheless, excessive exercise will result in negative impacts, like injuries, insufficient rest, nutrition problems, etc.

It is a persistent issue, meaning that individuals will disregard rest and overexert themselves.

  • Shopping

Compulsive shopping is a type of behavioral addiction where people buy things to cope and feel good. It is a short-term relief and helps in staying away from negative feelings.

People spend more money than they can afford on things that they do not necessarily want or need.

  • Spiritual Obsession

Religion can also turn into an obsession just like any other behavior or substance. People look for hope, belonging, purity, purpose, and superiority in religion. They use religion to avoid all kinds of problems and slowly become isolated from others.

  • Cutting

People cut themselves and inflict self-harm to feel better. They see it as the only way to express their emotions like guilt or rage. They want to feel in control, and to cope with difficult life situations.

  • Nicotine

Another behavioral addiction is a serious and big problem in the U.S and the world is nicotine addictions such as tobacco and cigarettes.

Nicotine is an addictive substance taken through tobacco products.

It is exceedingly difficult to stop smoking, with withdrawal symptoms including moodiness, irritability, appetite problems, etc.

To better treatment nicotine addictions it is recommended that one check into the right behavioral addiction treatment center.

Behavioral addiction signs and symptoms

Now that we have talked about the types lets talk about the signs of behavioral addictions. Below are some of them:

  • Issue with work
  • Issue with relationships
  • Tries to stop the behavior but can’t
  • Not caring about other responsibilities and more concerned about the behavior
  • Does the behavior is excess
  • Facing financial problems with of the behavior
  • Health issues because of the behavior

Behavioral vs substance addiction

Experts believe anything that has the effect of stimulating a person can be addictive.

When the urges become too strong to handle, it is considered an addiction.

As far as behavioral addiction is concerned, an individual is addicted to behavior and the pleasure received by dopamine release.

The changes in neural paths of the brain are similar for both behavioral addiction and substance addiction.


Addictive behaviors and substance abuse, including alcohol, produce similar effects in the brain.

There are emotional imbalance and problems with impulse control. Thus, anybody struggling with such compulsions is likely to indulge in other substances.

The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse posts that people with behavioral addiction report a substance abuse problem from 21% to 64% of the time.

When an individual is struggling with 2 issues at the same time, it is known as a co-occurring disorder. The reasons could be genetic or biological for someone to suffer from both.

Either way, getting the right help for alcohol problems and addictive behavior at the same time is essential for the long term treatment of both.

Drug abuse

Behavioral addiction and substance abuse like drugs have a common ground in that both can become obsessions.

People will do extreme things in order to satisfy the urges and to avoid withdrawal.

It has been observed that those with certain types of behavioral addiction have problems resisting drug use.

This is largely due to the fact that both activities trigger the release of dopamine which leads to pleasure.

Moreover, drug abuse produces a direct impact on physical health for a long period of time.

There are a lot of similarities between behavioral addictions and substance use addictions. Both addictions start in the adolescence stage.

You can find more information on the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

Behavioral addiction treatment

When one goes into behavioral addiction treatment, their many treatment modalities that can be used during the rehab.

Below are listed some of those modalities that will be beneficial during a process addiction treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This is based on the concept of how people behave, and how the behaviors can be manipulated.

Experts came to the understanding that almost all of us have thoughts that we cannot possibly fulfill leading to negative emotions and addictions.

CBT aims to minimize these by recording thoughts and triggers.

A pattern will emerge which would help to recognize the problem areas and replace them with positive thoughts and healthier rewards.

Motivational interviewing

This is a counseling method to help people change their behavior. For this, an interviewer urges clients to speak about their struggles and their reasons.

The interviewer helps clients think about changing their behavior and motivating them for the same. It is usually a short-term treatment, which can be done alongside other therapies.

Relapse prevention

Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT) is aimed at individuals who are recovering from their addiction treatment.

It is carried out to help them understand how they could relapse, major triggers, and how they could avoid it.

The treatment process also helps people to develop coping skills by helping them develop healthy habits and good lifestyle changes.

Contingency management

People receive contentment by engaging in behavioral addiction or substance abuse.

Contingency management works with the concept of giving rewards for good for healthy and productive behavior. This may include certain education or social goals.

By using this method with other relevant treatment options, chances of recovery can be increased.

Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT)

REBT comes under the category of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

The key intention of this therapy is to make people aware that despair comes from our perspective of the situations, rather than from external sources.

REBT consists of identifying irrational thoughts and patterns, challenging them, and achieve insights.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)

It takes a long time to heal from a distressing event. The intent of EMDR is to help people recover from such events just as the body works to heal a physical wound.

This therapy comprises eight steps, concerned with past memories of the disturbing event, the current circumstance due to that event, and coping skills required for the future.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT is also a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. It aims to help people cope healthily with stress, emotional disturbance, and to help improve relationships.

There are three main settings for this therapy: a classroom setting with behavioral skills lessons and assignments, individual therapy with a professional, and phone coaching option.

Community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT)

CRAFT, as the name suggests, coaches family and friends so that they can help their loved ones with a behavioral addiction.

Understanding an individual’s triggers, communication, and problem-solving are some of the skills that are taught.

Thus, the person struggling with addiction can ask for and accept help.

Multidimensional family therapy (MDFT)

It is similar to CRAFT, but MDFT is geared towards adolescents with behavior and substance abuse problems.

MDFT is generally carried out in three phases.

This treatment method aims at reducing such problems by bringing in family and community.

Professionals will work with parents and other members of the family to teach them skills relevant to addiction issues.

Integrative approach

Integrative therapy uses different methods of treatment and tailors them to suit the affected individual.

Professionals will take into account the individual’s physical abilities, motivations, and preferences to ascertain the most ideal approach.

Person-centered therapy

Also known as client-therapy, this is a type of talk therapy to help individuals reach solutions of their own volition. The professional will be more of a listener; non-judgmental, and understanding to encourage and assist the individual’s recovery.

 Rehab programs for addictive behaviors

When it comes to going to behavioral addiction rehab, people have different options of how and where to go to for treatment sessions.

The first option is inpatient rehab for more intense addiction issues. Patients live in a hospital-like setting, away from home. Patients can focus on getting the right treatment without getting distracted. Lengths of such programs can vary from one month to even one year. Facilities will be of help for the duration of the program and even after.

Outpatient rehab programs

Outpatient rehab programs are for comparatively milder addiction problems.

It is best for people who are seeking flexibility in their treatment schedule. Various sessions can be scheduled per week.

Outpatient treatment programs are more affordable than inpatient programs.

Intensive outpatient rehab(IOP)

Intensive outpatient rehab (IOP) programs are for people with severe addictions or disorders but do not need inpatient programs.

People with work and family commitments can opt for this program, as they will receive the best care while still being able to stay at home and carry out their obligations.

Family and friends can be there for support and encouragement towards recovery.

Partial hospitalization program(PHP)

Another option is the partial hospitalization program (PHP).

These programs provide more treatment than outpatient programs but do not require a full stay in facilities like inpatient programs.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, group therapy, and support groups are some of the treatment methods included in PHPs.

Treatment centers process

The foremost step is to choose an ideal behavioral addiction facility taking into consideration treatment options and your preferences.

The admission process is made simple by the facilities. When a patient enters the facility, it is made sure that they are not carrying any potentially harmful items.

The medical staff then assesses the history and needs of the patient. In the detox process, substances are removed from the body to start the proper treatment.

Detox can be hard on patients, especially those with substance abuse problems like alcohol and tobacco.

After this, patients receive care in the form of therapies and medication. This varies according to the patient, and the rehab option chosen.
After the treatment process is complete, it is important to maintain sobriety.

Relevant skills are taught to help them cope positively.

Additionally, there are various aftercare programs for patients to adjust to life after addiction rehab.

The programs can be part of the treatment facilities themselves.

Therapy and counseling sessions can be attended multiple times a week. There are also support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.

Such groups create a safe environment for people to express themselves. Being part of this type of group increases the chance for people to remain addiction-free.

Speak with an admission counselor today!

If you or a loved one is dealing with process addictions and substance abuse such as drugs or alcohol, please calls now to speak with an addiction rehab admission counselor to weigh your options.

Going to a professional and the right behavioral addiction treatment center is the best option for the long term rehab of behavioral addictions. And there is no cost or obligation to speak with someone today! So call now!

Updated on January 22nd, 2020