The Most Common Behavioral Addictions

4 minute read

By Heather Fishel

Individuals with behavioral addictions can become so invested in chasing certain actions or behaviors that they lose control. If you’re curious about your own habits, you can explore common behavioral addictions with an online search right now.

While substance abuse might be the most well-known type, behavioral addiction results in a dependency on certain actions or behaviors. As a result, people tend to experience a strong “high” when they perform certain actions.

1. Internet Addiction

The internet is an absolute necessity for everyone today. After all, the entire world is connected – and we’re often online both day and night. But for some people, the internet can turn into a serious addiction.

Internet addiction is defined as a behavioral addiction that leads a person to become dependent on the internet or online devices. The internet might be used to cope with stress. It might also cause people to forgo other aspects of life in favor of being online.

Some people don’t consider internet addiction to be a true addiction. However, frequent internet use can become a problem if you begin to lose control and experience negative consequences. Additionally, research by the American Psychiatric Association found that internet addiction, or a dependency on the internet and other online devices, can cause changes in the brain.

2. Shopping Addiction

Plenty of people enjoy shopping. Who doesn’t like the feeling of buying something new and exciting? And shopping is often thought of as a way to treat yourself, especially when you aren’t purchasing everyday necessities.

However, for some people, the thrill of shopping is more than a once-in-awhile experience. Shopping can be an addiction – a behavioral addiction that leads to compulsive buying because it brings good, positive feelings.

Shopping can cross the line from normal behavior into an addiction when it becomes uncontrollable. The emotions behind shopping can also help determine whether it’s an addiction. For example, purchasing items to avoid feelings of sadness or anxiety may be a problem. Feeling guilty after a “shopping high” may also be bad. Ultimately, a shopping addiction can become a preoccupation, lead to problems in other areas of life like finances, and affect emotions.

3. Video Game Addiction

Video games are somewhat addictive by nature. Once you start playing a great game, you can spend hours, even days, trying to win the game. But ever since the creation of video games, experts and addiction professionals have debated whether or not these games are addictive.

Based on recent studies and findings, video game addiction is a real behavioral addiction. Research shows that video game addiction is common among males ages eight to 18 – and as many as one in every 10 players becomes “out of control.”

When video games begin to cross or blur the lines between reality and fantasy, an addiction is likely. Although there’s still debate about the dangers and harms that video game addiction can cause, increasingly more professionals are taking notice. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized video game addiction, adding it to the International Classifications of Diseases in 2018.

4. Plastic Surgery Addiction

Plastic surgery is often elective – and because of this, it can become seriously problematic for some people. As a type of behavioral addiction, plastic surgery addiction tends to happen when individuals choose to repeatedly get plastic surgery to adjust or “fix” their physical features.

Some psychologists consider plastic surgery addiction to be related to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is a psychological issue. Individuals with BDD can become preoccupied with slight or imagined “defects” in their appearance. And that can lead them to seek repeated plastic surgeries.

Plastic surgery can cross the line from normal behavior to behavioral addiction when an individual gets many surgeries. It’s also common for people with this addiction to go from doctor to doctor until they find one who agrees to operate or perform the procedures they want.

5. Binge Eating or Food Addiction

It might seem surprising that it’s possible to become addicted to food. After all, we need to eat food in order to survive. And who doesn’t enjoy indulging in their favorite foods or comforting meals?

When people become obsessed with food, however, it can turn into an addiction. For many years, experts have disagreed about whether or not food addictions are truly disorders or merely bad habits. But more recently, the concept of food addiction has been gaining support.

Food addiction is a behavioral addiction that often appears in one of two ways: binge eating or an obsession with certain foods. Both types of food addictions can trigger feel-good brain chemicals in a way that’s similar to substance abuse or addiction.

Seek Professional Help if You Think You Might Suffer from a Behavior Addiction

The behavioral addictions mentioned here are only some types of addiction. These behaviors are common – but there are other behavioral addictions that can occur. And if left unmanaged or uncontrolled, these behavioral addictions can potentially cause individuals to lose control of their lives.

If you or someone in your life is experiencing the signs or symptoms of a behavioral addiction, it’s important to see professional help. Addiction is often a lifelong battle that requires professional guidance, treatment, and management. The sooner you’re able to speak with an addiction professional, the more answers you’ll be able to uncover.

Heather Fishel