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Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.
Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.
*Definition from the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Yes. There are many repetitive and excessive behavioral patterns that produce symptoms similar to substance use disorder. This is called a behavioral addiction.
Gambling disorder is the only behavioral addiction that has been recognized by both the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental health (DSM) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). This is because there has been enough evidence to show that gambling behaviors activate the same reward systems as substance use disorder. In addition to gambling disorder Internet gaming disorder is currently being considered for addition to the DSM. Sex addiction, exercise addiction, and shopping addiction are not included in the DSM at this time because there has been insufficient research done to establish the criteria needed to diagnose this behavior.
Unfortunately, unlike substance use disorder, it is uncommon for commercial or governmental health plans to cover treatment for behavioral addictions. Individuals would typically need to meet criteria for a substance use disorder or other mental disorder in order to receive addiction treatment services. An individual with a gambling disorder and a co-occuring substance use disorder could be treated by a professional who can address both conditions in an integrated way.
Motivational enhancement, cognitive-behavioral therapies, and 12 step modalities commonly used to treat substance use disorders are often just as effective with behavioral addictions. If you think you or a loved one might have a behavioral addiction there are mutual aid support groups and private pay therapists that can help, please visit the SAMSHA treatment locator to find services near you.
Tolerance, withdrawal, and craving. When someone’s substance use or behavioral tendencies begin to show signs of addiction there are a few things to look out for.