Understanding the Six Major Characteristics of Addictive Behavior

People who suffer from compulsive and addictive behavior will always be left wanting more than they have become addicted to. Whether it's drugs, alcohol, gambling, or shopping, people will experience greater tolerance. People suffering from tolerance will need to gradually increase the amount of a substance or behavior to achieve the same desired effects as those experienced previously. For example, people addicted to cigarettes start by smoking one or two a day, only to realize that they have progressed to smoking a pack a day.

This applies to any addiction, for example, people addicted to opioids, alcohol, gambling, sex, etc. If a person suddenly stops using a substance or engaging in behavior to which they are addicted, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Abstinence is defined as a negative reaction to the cessation of a substance, thing or behavior on which a person has become dependent. Withdrawal symptoms can range from emotional to physical, as well as differ in severity based on a variety of factors.

For example, people suffering from alcohol addiction will experience symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, such as anxiety, nausea, headaches, and confusion. Withdrawal symptoms will depend on what the individual is addicted. Unfortunately, many addictions include withdrawal symptoms that need to be treated medically. So, if you suffer from addiction and have experienced withdrawal symptoms, it may be time to go to a professional addiction treatment center. People who suffer from addiction will spend a lot of time focusing on the substance, thing or behavior to which they are addicted.

For example, thinking, preparing, participating in, and dealing with the consequences of certain behaviors often leaves little time for life and relationships. This is known as worry, a common characteristic of addiction. Growing evidence suggests that behavioral addictions resemble substance addictions in many domains, including natural history, phenomenology, tolerance, comorbidity, overlapping genetic contribution, neurobiological mechanisms, and response to treatment. This supports the new category proposed by the DSM-V Working Group Addictions and Related Disorders covering both substance use disorders and non-substance addictions. Current data suggest that this combined category may be appropriate for pathological gambling and some other best-studied behavioral addictions. There is currently insufficient data to justify any classification of other proposed behavioral addictions.

However, data on substance use comorbidity should be interpreted with caution because any causal association may manifest at the behavioral level or at the syndromic level. Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease that affects more than seven million people in the United States each year. In addition to its physical aspects, drug dependence affects mood, shapes perception and changes behavior. The emotional and psychological aspects of drug addiction are as powerful and life-altering as the physical effects of substance dependence. Fortunately, drug addiction treatment can be very effective if recovering addicts are willing to accept the challenges of overcoming a problematic and persistent behavioral health condition. There is sufficient evidence to justify considering pathological gambling as a non-substance or behavioral addiction; the DSM-V Working Group has proposed changing its classification in the DSM-V from an impulse control disorder to an addiction and related disorders.