Ready to get help? Call 855-972-9760
Ingesting drugs and alcohol may produce short-term rewards that then result in a lack of control over the behavior. Several behaviors similarly produce short-term rewards and result in a lack of control over the behavior. Diminished control is a core defining concept of substance addiction. This similarity between the behaviors we discuss in our book, “Why Can’t I Stop?” and substance addiction has given rise to the concept of behavioral addictions. The idea of behavioral addictions is based in scientific knowledge, but the concept is still controversial.
How does someone get addicted to something without putting an addictive substance into the body? We now know that the brain can react to behaviors much as it does to drugs or alcohol. Certain behaviors produce a strong reinforcement in the brain that makes us want to do them over and over again, even if they interfere with our lives. The reinforcement of the behaviors can be so strong that some people go through withdrawal when they stop the behavior, just as in drug and alcohol addiction. They may become agitated, have trouble sleeping, undergo personality changes, and be irritable.