Drug Addiction vs Porn, Shopping, Online Gaming, & Gambling Addictions
Can one be addicted to behaviors like shopping, sex/pornography, gambling, and other behaviors?
When one becomes addicted to drugs they often experience compulsive, and most often uncontrollable, drug craving, searching, and abuse that continues despite the often extreme negative consequences.
Individuals that become addicted create a culture of addiction. Their job, family, hobbies all take a backseat to their planning and thinking about when they will use again. Those that become dependent become compulsive, due to the behavior patterns and addiction to the chemicals that occurs in the brain. I have worked with adolescents and adults alike that are addicted to pain pills, marijuana, alcohol and other drugs. I find that often they resist using as a part of them begins to hate the patterns and negative impact their use has on their life. During this same time of hate, they have their brain to battle, their brain is a biological organ that becomes a slave to the pleasure it derives from the substance. This love-hate relationship leads addicts to lie, hide, manipulate, avoid, justify, rationalize, and engage in an entire host of maladaptive behaviors that end up wrecking relationships. For many people, drug addiction becomes something that they cannot stop, something they want to stop, promise to stop, but fail to make it happen. Drug addiction takes work with a trained therapist experienced in working with addictions and helping individuals enter and begin a strong recovery plan.
Process Addictions – Pornography, Gambling, Online Gaming and Shopping
Have you ever heard or know a shopaholic? I have heard it debated among lay persons that you cannot technically be addicted to behaviors or things that are not chemical or ingested into the body. Nothing could be farther from the truth, behaviors do in fact bring on a chemical change in the body, the brain primarily. Anyone that has even a rudimentary understanding of pornography and it’s use cannot argue that powerful chemicals are released in the brain during the viewing of pornography. Shopping, gambling, internet gaming, and other behaviors can in certain individuals become very addictive and difficult to stop. Often people report they can stop when they want to, that they are not addicted. The difficulty is process addictions share similar paths with chemical use addictions such as triggers, withdrawal, tolerance, and arousal when engaging in the process.
I have worked with men and women struggling with addiction for over a decade and it is clear that working through and overcoming addiction takes more than willpower. It takes understanding of the patterns, engagement in treatment, commitment to change, and leaning into pain which often must be guided by a therapist that knows, understands, and treats addictions. Learning to live your life differently, changing up your routine, moving away from sedentary stimulation on porn sites or online gaming, etc.
If you are struggling with a substance use addiction or a process addiction like compulsive shopping, pornography, or gambling you can find support and help. If you or a loved one is stuck in this process you can free yourself from the chains of shame and doubt. Call me for a consultation on how I can help you.
Copyright: No part of this article in section or full may be reproduced without permission from the author Justin Stum, MS LMFT. The one and only exception is for educational purposes and only if the contact information below for the author is fully cited here in article. Justin Stum, MS LMFT, 640 E 700 S, Suite 103, St. George Utah 84770, 435.574.9193 https://www.justinstum.com