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Beating Addictions: Behavioral vs. Substance Addiction

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Beating Addictions: Behavioral vs. Substance Addiction

beating addictionsIf someone says they have an addiction problem, it can mean many things. Are they addicted to drugs? Alcohol? Gambling? Sex? What are the differences between those addictions? Can they all be treated? Do they all need professional help? Beating addictions can come off as an impossible thing to do, but with the right mindset and the right guidance, it can be done.

My recovery must come first so that everything I love in life doesn’t have to come last.

Behavior Examples

  • Binge Eating
  • Sex
  • Gambling
  • Internet
  • Shopping
  • Video Games

Substance Examples

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Cannabis
  • Stimulant
  • Hallucinogen
  • Opioid

Addiction: The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

Addiction is taken lightly in our society. We say we are addicted to something as an exaggeration because we do it a lot. “Omg, I love The Sims – totally addicted.” But, it doesn’t actually mean we are addicted. We just really like that thing we’re doing.

Addiction is a real problem and should be treated. But, would you treat gambling the same way as alcohol? No.

Behavioral addiction is a form of addiction that “involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-drug-related behavior.” It’s more psychological than physical but it’s still unhealthy to live with. 

Substance addiction is defined as a “chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use.” It’s considered a brain disease because the drugs/alcohol that you consume changes the structure of the brain.

Beating Addictions:


beating addictionsBefore someone can get help for a behavioral addiction, they should understand that their behavior is problematic. If you’re not sure if it’s problematic, some signs can include: getting the feeling of doing that activity frequently, doing it in inappropriate circumstances, thinking about the activity in anticipation of doing it, and wanting to do it again after you finish the activity. If you’re feeling like you want more, and it’s starting to interfere with your other responsibilities, it’s a good indication you have an addiction problem. You could also feel depressed, anxious, or frustrated if someone prevents you from doing that activity.

The difference with behavioral addictions vs substance addiction is physical withdrawal symptoms.

People with behavioral addictions don’t need to be detoxed. They are able to stop their activity without physical withdrawal symptoms, unlike substance. But that doesn’t mean there are no symptoms at all; people with behavioral addictions might feel restless or have the urge to do the activity when they are quitting. To seek help and be treated, you can see a therapist, do group therapy, or behavioral therapy. 


beating addictionsUnlike behavioral addictions, you do go through withdrawal symptoms with substance abuse. Withdrawal symptoms are different with each drug, but popular symptoms include nausea, shaking, sweating, anxiety, depression, seizures and more. Since the withdrawal symptoms can be intense for many people, it’s highly encouraged to seek treatment with detox

It’s important to seek help professionally because there can be many issues with detoxing from home. Professional supervision and a safe environment are pluses to a detox facility. Detox lasts around 7-9 days depending on the severity, and it’s recommended to seek additional help after detox. Substance addiction is more intense since it’s a physical addiction. It requires detox, therapy, and aftercare to be able to recover from addiction. If you don’t take sobriety seriously, it can result in a relapse. Relapses are common in substance addiction but you should never give up on treatment. If you have the willpower to get treated and stay sober, you can do anything.

If you’re struggling with substance addiction, New Start can help. Call us at 855-737-7363 or live chat with us for more information on our programs. We would love to help you. 

Posted in Addiction, Health and Wellness