BEHAVIORAL ADDICTION When people think of addiction, what mostly comes to mind are addictions to drugs and alcohol. However, it is also possible to become addicted to a particular activity or behavior. This type of addiction is known as a “behavioral addiction,” which occurs when a person is compulsively participating in an activity or behavior such as eating, gambling, or shopping. One can even be addicted to the internet or playing video games. In order for the behavior to be classified as an addiction, it must be compulsively acted upon. The compulsion that an addicted person feels to perform a certain behavior will cause them to continue engaging in the behavior even though it has a negative impact on their mental and/or physical health. They will even continue engaging in the behavior when it causes problems within their home and social lives. Since these types of addictions tend to revolve around activities that are usually seen as socially acceptable, they can be incredibly difficult to recognize. Many people don’t realize that they have a problem until the addiction begins to get wildly out of control. The idea of behavioral addiction is still hotly debated within the psychological and medical communities, because a behavioral addiction is seen as being a mental diagnosis that isn’t rooted in a biological or physical cause. While behavioral addictions are still contested, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5) recognizes gambling addiction. It is the only non-substance addiction officially recognized by the manual, most likely because gambling addiction has been studied more than some of the other types of addiction. Recent studies regarding the effects of gambling on the brain show that gambling, in and of itself, activates similar areas of the brain that drugs and alcohol do. This research offers promising insights into the ways that other behavioral addictions work.
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