Addictive Behaviours

Addictive behaviour is any activity, substance, object, or behaviour that becomes the major focus of a person’s life, during which they withdraw from other activities. Along with this, there are often other signs of having an addiction either physically, mentally, or socially.

A person can become addicted with nearly anything. Some researchers imply that there are similarities between physical addiction to various chemicals, such as alcohol and heroin, and psychological dependence to activities such as compulsive gambling, sex, work, running, shopping, or eating disorders. The type of activities which some people find addictive include gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, video games, internet, work, exercise, and shopping.

Common Characteristics Among Addictive Behaviours

There are many common characteristics among the various addictive behaviours:

1. The person becomes obsessed (constantly thinks of) the object, activity, or substance.

2. They will seek it out, or engage in the behaviour even though it is causing harm (physical problems, poor work or study performance, problems with friends, family, fellow workers). 

3.  The person will compulsively engage in the activity, that is, do the activity over and over even if he/she does not want to and find it difficult to stop.

4.  Upon cessation of the activity, withdrawal symptoms often occur.  These can include irritability, craving, restlessness or depression. 

5.  The person does not appear to have control as to when, how long, or how much he or she will continue the behaviour (loss of control). (They drink 6 beers when they only wanted one, buy 8 pairs of shoes when they only needed a belt, ate the whole box of cookies, etc). 

6. He/she often denies problems resulting from his/her engagement in the behaviour, even though others can see the negative effects. 

7. Person hides the behaviour after family or close friends have mentioned their concern. (hides food under beds, alcohol bottles in closets, doesn’t show spouse credit card bills, etc).

8. Many individuals with addictive behaviours report a blackout for the time they were engaging in the behaviour (do not remember how much or what they bought, how much the lost gambeling, how many miles they ran on a sore foot, what they did at the party when drinking). 

9. Depression is common in individuals with addictive behaviours. That is why it is important to make an appointment with a physician to find out what is going on.

10. Individuals with addictive behaviours often have low self esteem, feel anxious if the do not have control over their environment, and come from psychologically or physically abusive families.