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Behaviors That Classify As Addiction

Posted by arizonarecover on February 6, 2020

When you think of the word ‘addiction’, what do you think of? Most of us think of someone struggling with a dependence on alcohol or drugs; someone who is down on their luck and has developed an unhealthy dependence on substances. However, addiction can be much more than substance abuse. Addiction is defined as “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.” Addiction doesn’t need to be an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it can be a dependence on an activity or thing. Today, we’re going to discuss different types of behaviors that a person may develop that could be classified as an addiction.

How Addiction Works

The way addiction works is the reward system in the brain is activated in the brain when a person performs a certain activity. If the behavior/action produces results that the brain defines as “rewarding”, then there will be a rush of dopamine (a chemical closely related to overall happiness) and euphoria. This rush of euphoria and dopamine coaxes a person to repeat that action in an effort to get the same results again. 

If a person continually performs a behavior that produces these kinds of results, they could easily become addicted to it. If they continue the behavior expecting results, they will develop dependence and tolerance which means they will need something more from the behavior in order to achieve the desired effects. When this happens, a person can start to lose control, rendering the behavior unhealthy. So, besides addiction to drugs or alcohol, what other kinds of behaviors or things can a person be addicted to?

Addiction Types & Behaviors


Believe it or not, exercise can become a behavioral addiction for people. Yes, exercise is a very healthy and beneficial activity, but there is such a thing as too much exercise. People who struggle with addiction to exercise struggle to stop habitual exercise, which can be extremely harmful to the body. Your body needs to be healthy, but it also needs time to rest and regain its strength. People with an addiction to exercise often struggle with letting their body rest because they are addicted to the idea of perfection and being extremely physically fit. This can be due to an underlying issue with the perception of their own physical appearance or an unhealthy fixation of physical perfection.


This kind of behavior may come as less of a surprise to most of you reading. Gambling is a behavior that is a high risk, high reward. Because of the intense and high stakes nature of gambling, a person can easily become addicted to the possibility of winning big. Gambling is a behavior that can be enjoyed in small amounts, but many people fall into habitual participation. The feeling of getting close to getting a reward coaxes people to continue playing, despite the financial loss. 


Another activity that is often best practiced in moderation is sex. Sex is a behavior that is natural for humans to do, but it can quickly become addictive if a person develops an unhealthy fixation on the activity. The pleasure a person feels during sex can be extremely desirable, to the point a person may want to perform the activity every day. Problems arise when a person develops an unhealthy fixation on it and starts to feel unsatisfied with monogamous relationships. This can cause problems in healthy relationships and cause a person to cheat.


Pornography is something can cause a person to develop unhealthy expectations for sex. This form of media is easily accessible in the age of the internet, people can pull it up on their smartphones. Just like the other activities/behaviors mentioned above, this activity affects the pleasure/reward systems in the brain. The pleasure a person feels when watching pornography is intense and can become highly addictive. The pleasure felt when watching pornography is identical to the pleasure a person feels during sex. This can cause a person’s brain to view pornography as more rewarding than actual sex, which can only cause a person to develop unhealthy expectations.


Another activity that is normal, healthy, and rewarding, is eating. Yes, we all need to eat in order to survive and be healthy, but can this seemingly normal activity become an unhealthy unnatural one? Yes! In today’s society, we have thousands of options for fast-food and snacks. These foods taste incredible and can cause us to feel extremely satisfied when we indulge, but they can also be unhealthy if habitually consumed. People who struggle with eating often indulge to the point of serious health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity. These kinds of disorders typically come about with people who struggle to eat healthy foods or people who struggle with overeating.


We all want to reward ourselves with something nice every so often, but can that kind of behavior become unhealthy? Shopping addiction is a very real thing and can leave people in a lot of financial trouble, just like gambling. When a person develops a shopping addiction, their brain has been wired to tell them they need to buy things in order to feel happy. This compulsive behavior can wind someone up in a lot of debt and could result in some other serious troubles in life. 


We are living in an age of true technological revolution. With the internet becoming such a key part of people’s everyday life, but some people become too dependent on it. The internet has endless content for people to enjoy, making it possible for people to spend hours on it. Problems start to arise when a person starts to spend hours on it, secluding themselves from social interaction and forgetting to tend to important parts of their lives. People who struggle with internet addiction often find themselves locked away in their rooms for hours at a time, forgetting about life necessities like social interaction, jobs, relationships, exercise, a healthy diet, etc. Another subcategory of internet addiction is an addiction to video games, which many people around the world struggle with. 

There are many other activities, behaviors, and things that a person can easily develop an addiction to, but these are among some of the most prominent. Do you or someone you know struggle with addiction to any of the above-mentioned behaviors/activities? Seek help today and don’t be afraid to ask for it.