Most substance addictions have been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Meanwhile, not all behavioral addictions have been recognized as a legitimate addiction. Behavioral and substance addiction may be the same in some aspects, science continues to recognize several key differences
To understand the difference between these forms of addiction, it’s important to understand them on their own. Read on to learn the differences and similarities between these two general types of addiction:
Addiction is a compulsion to partake in an activity, substance, or thing which harms them in some way. This term can mean different things to different people. Addiction involves a repeated activity and the harm that it causes that individual. The involvement in this activity may feel pleasurable but can have harmful side effects.
Some people might define addiction as a distinct set of patterns or behaviors related to a substance or activity. Or, it can be classified as a direct response when an individual is no longer able to engage in the substance or activity. Addictions can come across differently in different individuals. For example, gambling addiction can appear differently than drug addiction.
What is Behavioral Addiction?
Behavioral abuse is a chronic disorder that affects the brain’s reward system. It’s a compulsive and repetitive pattern in a rewarding behavior, despite its negative consequences. The individual becomes focused on pursuing the reward by engaging in this behavior or achieving relief through this type of behavior. The individual will have trouble refraining from this behavior, and won’t have any awareness of the problems that involved this behavioral pattern.
Some examples of behavioral patterns include gambling, pornography, sex, technology, and shopping addictions. Out of this list, only gambling disorder is classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a legitimate addictive disorder. There’s not enough evidence to classify the other forms of behavioral abuse as addictive disorders. Future research and findings will be conducted to include these disorders.
What is Substance Addiction?
Substance abuse is defined as the inappropriate use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications. This addiction can cause individuals to hit rock bottom in their lives. Some examples of hitting rock bottom include financial problems, health problems, legal issues, and strained personal relationships. Some individuals could be at risk of losing their jobs or children.
Substance addiction is focused on the substance itself rather than the behavioral pattern. Individuals develop an addiction to a substance of choice, which can lead them to use more of the product to achieve the desired result. This can lead to physical and psychological damage if left untreated. However, the physical dependence of the substance doesn’t always constitute substance abuse.
Differences Between Behavioral & Substance Addictions
Addictions vary widely among individuals. It all depends on the source of addiction, and whether it’s a physical addiction or a psychological one. Substance addiction contains a serious set of risks that are not seen in most types of behavioral addictions. Substance addiction can negatively impact the user’s mental and physical health. Substances can damage the brain and body, which can lead to long-term health problems.
Behavioral addictions come in many different forms. They should be treated with behavioral treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Behavioral abuse can cause the most damage to the individual and those closest to them. When substance and behavioral abuse occur together, comprehensive treatment is required to treat both addictions.
Similarities Between Behavioral & Substance Addictions
These addictions share many of the same characteristics. They both share the concept of becoming obsessed with a certain activity, substance, or thing. The individual will go through great lengths to achieve that feeling of euphoria and to avoid the feeling of discomfort. Individuals suffering from any addiction will exhibit similar signs and symptoms.
Most individuals have a hard time refraining from their addictive behavior even if they try. Others may be in denial of their addictive patterns as a result of their behavioral or substance addiction. Some will continue to abuse the substance or engage with the behavior even if leads to negative consequences and problems. In conclusion, any activity that consumes an individual’s life and causes them great harm is considered an addiction.