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Behavioral Addiction Versus Substance Addiction

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Ryan Cox

Professor Myers

SOWO 3700

28 September 2018

Behavioral Addiction versus Substance Addiction: Correspondence of Psychiatric and Psychological Views

        The main idea for this article is to try show that drug and alcohol abuse and addiction have a lot of similarities as well as some difference to behavioral addiction diagnostic symptoms. The idea behind this article is to compare drug addiction and behavioral addictions. The writers believe that anything capable of stimulating a person can be addictive; and whenever a habit changes into an obligation, it can be considered as an addiction. They believe there is a link to behavioral negative habits and to drug abuse. The concept of addiction is not easy to define, and the usage of the term addiction has been considered as controversial. They understand the definition of addiction isn’t very black and white but they explained how the government’s view behavioral addiction in relation to it being an addiction is flawed saying, “Until recently, ‘“non-substance related behavioral addiction” was listed in neither of the two internationally used diagnostic manuals of mental disorders, i.e. DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and ICD-10 (International Classification of Disease).” They argue that, although such behavioral addictions do not involve a chemical intoxicant or substance, they found that a group of researchers have posed that some core indicators of behavioral addiction are like those of chemical or substance addiction. Researchers emphasize that to make a diagnosis of behavioral addiction, functional impairments must be present at work, in social relationships, or in other social situations.  They took findings from scientific journals and reports from 1990-on to look form similarities and differences between perspectives in the field of addiction and in behavioral symptoms and then they extracted major pieces of evidence. Another question that arises from this is the treatment process similar for both drug and alcohol addictions and for behavioral addictions.

The findings from the research showed that there are similarities and differences between diagnostic symptoms of drug addiction and behavioral addiction. Based on the evidence, “Behavioral addictions such as gambling, overeating, television compulsion, and internet addiction are similar to drug addiction except that the individual is not addicted to a substance, but he/she is addicted to the behavior or the feeling experienced by acting out the behavior.” They found though that the physical signs of drug addictions are absent in behavioral addiction. From a neurobiological point of view, behavioral addictions that only indirectly affect the neurotransmitter systems of the brain, can serve as reinforcers comparable to pharmacological substances that directly affect these systems. This leads to the assumption that excessively conducted behavioral addictions like gaming, sports, social media, etc., induce specific reward effects through biochemical processes in the body have an addictive potential as well. Therefore, several authors have postulated that the criteria of behavioral addiction are comparable with those of substance-related addiction. Patients suffering from behavioral addiction describe addiction as cravings, excessive behavior, psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms, loss of control, development of tolerance in addition, the high comorbidity of behavioral addiction and substance-related addiction suggests comparable etiological mechanisms for their development. All in all, it seems appropriate to categorize excessively conducted behaviors which lead to suffering, as behavioral addictions. The findings also supported the idea that the process to treat behavioral addictions and drug and alcohol addictions are both to be treated with similar care and a similar process. The moment the addict realizes that they need help whether it be with a behavioral addiction or with a drugs or alcohol is the moment that the process starts. Realizing that the way to approach both scenarios should be similar is iortant for making progress with the addiction. Justifying behavioral addiction by not classifying it as a true addiction is a major problem and is why it’s important to realize the weight of it. It can be just as harmful to a person’s life as a drug abuse situation.

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