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Understanding the Characteristics of Addictive Behavior

Addictive behavior has become an increasingly prevalent problem in our society today, with millions of people suffering from its harmful effects. Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, gambling, or shopping, addiction can ruin lives and tear families apart. But what is addictive behavior? How do we recognize it? And how can we help those affected by it?  

Understanding the characteristics of addictive behavior is a key step toward helping those in need overcome their struggles. Learn more about the addictive behaviors that lead to Addiction Disorders with this guide. 

Preoccupation With the Addiction 

Preoccupation with addictive behavior and obsessive thoughts can be seen as cognitive salience, a core characteristic of addiction. When individuals are cognitively preoccupied or even fixated on finding ways to fulfill their addictions, negative thoughts can overtake their daily activities and interfere with meaningful life experiences. It is important for individuals and those around them to recognize the presence of cognitive salience, as it can be a key indicator of an unhealthy relationship with an addictive substance or behavior.  

Resulting Mood Modification 

Mood modification is a major factor when it comes to addictive behaviors. Partaking in addictive behaviors often stimulates certain parts of the brain or incites feelings of escape that addicted individuals lean on as an emotional crutch. These effects may appear desirable at first but can quickly lead to harmful dependencies as people begin to use them as an unhealthy substitute for professional treatment. 

Tolerance and Increased Use 

The more someone partakes in an addictive behavior or activity, the higher their tolerance levels to that addiction will be. When tolerance increases, an individual’s ability to control their use of addictive substances or participation in addictive behavior diminishes. Their ability to escape the grasp of addiction weakens as their body requires more of the substance or activity in order to experience the desired effects or the “high”. With time, what was initially a moderate-level addiction can develop into a severe addiction, substance abuse problem, or other Addiction Disorder that poses serious health and safety risks. 

Withdrawal Symptoms 

Withdrawal symptoms are also major characteristics of addictive behavior to understand. These symptoms can encompass far more than just physical cravings. They can also involve drastic shifts in emotion and disruptive behavior, as well as a preoccupation with the addiction itself.  

When someone is addicted to a behavior, an action, or habit, it becomes hard to ignore the intense urge to succumb to that habit. These withdrawal symptoms can put immense pressure on people, making it much harder to resist relapse, continue seeking professional intervention, and remain in recovery. 

Conflict and Other Negative Consequences 

Addictive behaviors take a heavy toll on almost every aspect of one’s life, including social relationships, family commitments, personal well-being, and professional obligations. Difficulties can emerge socially as people withdraw from family members and friends due to shame or guilt. Professional progress may also suffer as an individual faces issues with job performance or compulsion related to certain addictive behaviors. Above all, the personal toll of addiction carries its own heavy weight—anxiety, depression, and other comorbid Mental Health Disorders can arise for those who are unable to escape the cycle of addiction and remain in recovery. 

When you’re ready to seek help for your own addictive behaviors, turn to the team at Blair Wellness Group. As an experienced addiction therapist in Orange County, Dr. Blair and the expert team of Blair Wellness Group can help you overcome these addictive behaviors and create lasting change for a healthier, adaptive, sober, and positive lifestyle.

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