Behavioral Addictions and the impact on our lives

When someone thinks of the word Addiction they typically think of alcohol and drugs. These invariably cause catastrophic damage to peoples lives. Other addictions are less recognizable. Behavioral addictions can sometimes be dismissed in terms of their severity.

The impact however to people’s lives can be as damaging as drugs and alcohol. It is difficult to quantify and accept these types of addictions as often they have positive effects that don’t necessarily diminish over time.

A work addiction, for instance, may continue to have financial rewards as a result of their condition but can overlook the detrimental effects it may have in family relationships. Physical health and general wellbeing.

It is important to acknowledge these addictions as such and in doing so a person’s life can be immeasurably improved through the various therapeutic processes available.

Here are five common behavioral addictions.

Work Addiction

The lines can often be blurred around an addiction to work. Whilst the compulsivity to work can be rewarding financially it can also be used as an escape from emotional stress or difficult circumstances.

Regarded as a genuine mental health condition shame and perfectionism are common traits. The obsession can become all encompassed and depression and anxiety are common symptoms.

  • Does your work impact your physical health?
  • Do you compromise other commitments or relationships to work more?
  • Do you work to avoid guilt, anxiety or depression?

For more information on work addiction.

Sex Addiction

Sex is a natural need and desire of human beings and CAN be a healthy part of relationships.

An unhealthy relationship with sex can manifest itself through many ways from porn to promiscuity. In understanding whether it has become a problem it is important to consider the impact of your sex life on your general wellbeing.

  • Does it take up an increasing amount of your thinking time?
  • Do you compromise other commitments and relationships in your need for sex?
  • Do you suffer emotionally as a result of your sex life (remorse, shame, guilt)?

For more information on sex addiction.


There is an element of codependency in us all.

We all like to be thought of highly by others or be known as going out of our way to help others. However, an individual can become so reliant on these affirmations that they lose a sense of self. They almost become irrelevant to themselves.

The need to people please or to dictate are common traits in a codependent relationship and these relationships can ultimately result in remorse, anger, shame, and depression.

The term was initially coined out of Alcoholics Anonymous who saw this trait in wives, husbands, and partners of alcoholics. It was commonly referred to as an enabling behavior.

  • Do I have exaggerated feelings of responsibility to other people’s actions?
  • Do I constantly look for affirmation or reassurance?
  • Do you find it difficult to make decisions independently?

For more information on codependency.

Compulsive spending or Shopping Addiction

It may be true that there is an emotional attachment in all of us to spending…Who doesn’t feel better when they buy themselves a new pair of jeans that they have worked hard for and need? As with most addictions, it is the pursuit of more and the negative ramifications of that pursuit that define the addiction.

Aside from the obvious financial impact of such an addiction, there are emotional and psychological effects. It can be perceived as a “fix” or a way to “cheer us up” but the compulsivity leads to diminishing returns in regards its effects and a way to avoid emotional or practical difficulties that exist. The end result is that they exacerbate the very problems we were trying to solve.

  • Do I regularly buy things I don’t need?
  • Do my relationships suffer as a result of my spending?
  • Do I find it difficult to stop when I know I should?

For more information on shopping addiction and compulsive spending.

Gaming or Internet Addiction

The internet is now an integral part of modern living. Most of us use it to a lesser or greater extent in our daily lives. In many ways it allows us to create a different persona and live in a different world. This is particularly true in Gaming and Social media.

Gaming is addictive by design and individuals can find themselves spending hours every day “escaping the real world”. The adverse effects are many and varied. Physically sleeping patterns can be destroyed and eating habits disturbed. Social skills are not learned. Anxiety and depression are common effects.

  • Do I spend an excessive amount of time on the internet or playing games?
  • Am I dishonest or secretive about the time I spend on the internet?
  • Do I suffer withdrawals? i.e. Am I anxious when I am away from the internet or gaming device?

For more information on gaming and internet addiction.

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