Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral addictions occur when individuals engage in behaviors that they cannot resist, including stealing or gambling. These addictions cause negative consequences in their lives similar to drugs, but they are not talked about as often.


This addiction involves stealing things compulsively. Instead of worrying about having the money to pay for it, you just take it. The items can have little or no monetary value, but kleptomaniacs experience pleasure or a sense of relief when they swipe items. There may be some anxiety or tension before stealing, but it is replaced with gratification and pleasure when the theft is committed. Symptoms of kleptomania include:

–    Failing to resist the impulse to steal

–    Feeling an increase in tension before stealing

–    Pleasure when the robbery has been completed

–    Theft is not due to emotional distress or heightened emotions

–    Theft cannot be explained by a manic episode or some other disorder

Sugar Addiction

Sugar is legal and used to reward children and adults alike when it comes to birthdays, holidays, or stress. Sugar is used in most foods and drinks as well as baked goods and treats. However, many people overindulge in sugar throughout the day. Sugar causes dopamine to be released from the brain just like substances do.

The brain reacts in the same way, intercepting the reward response and causing the brain to flood with dopamine. You may feel a pleasurable high when you eat or drink foods with sugar, which can be even more addictive than cocaine. It is in many products that you consume each day, whether you realize it or not.

Compulsive Spending

Drugs and alcohol do not need to be the focal point is an addiction. Activities can be addictive too, such as spending money on clothes and other items. Dopamine can be released when you splurge and buy things for yourself and others, causing the pleasure chemical to flood the brain. As you spend more and more, dopamine comes to rely on this trigger to be released by the brain, causing a dependence to develop. Just like someone addicted to heroin may need their fix, someone addicted to shopping feels the same urge.

Pathologic Skin Picking

This is referred to as excoriation disorder as well as dermatillomania. It is an illness that is related to OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder. People with this disorder will pick at their skin, sometimes for hours, leading to irregularities in the skin and lesions. Scabs can develop, as well as infections if a wound is not properly treated. It is a repetitive disorder that typically starts in adolescence, but it can be seen in children or adults.

Internet Addiction

This is an impulse control disorder that doesn’t have the same effects as other addictions. It is similar to gambling, and users may become so engrossed in their online life that they feel the desire to leave behind the real world. They substitute internet interactions for real human connections, keeping them from living a normal life.

Compulsive Gambling

Much like internet addiction, gambling is a disorder of impulse control. Many people cannot stop themselves from returning to the casino or placing bets. The personal and social consequences can be enormous, and many gamblers do not admit they have a problem. They may not even be aware of it until they have hit rock bottom.

Compulsive Sexual Behavior

Hypersexuality is when individuals become obsessed or preoccupied with sexual fantasies and urge. These are accompanied by behaviors that are difficult to control and may cause distress or negatively impact work performance, relationships, and health. Symptoms of compulsive sexual behavior include:

–    The inability to control sexual urges, fantasies, or behavior.

–    Using sex to escape from problems and emotions.

–    Engaging in behaviors that have serious negative consequences, such as unprotected sex.