Problems with addiction and addictive behaviors can reek havoc on your life. Both have to do with genetics, brain wiring and being unable to stop a certain pattern, substance, or behavior. What’s the difference between a “substance addiction” and a “behavior addiction?” For starters, the brain can’t tell the difference between the two. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, gaming, shopping, gambling, or binge eating, your brain reads all identically. The similarities outweigh the differences. When you’re doing something that you love, your brain releases dopamine, which in some. can lead to complete addiction.

Chemical Addiction

Chemical addiction refers to an addiction to drugs of abuse, including drugs (both prescription and illegal), alcohol, and tobacco products, like cigarettes and snuff. When substances are taken they release a much higher amount of dopamine which is our brains natural reward center which leads to the person feeling “high” or very good and euphoric. Because this “good feeling” is so strong it then motivates people to use the substance again and again. Scientists have been known to say that drug abuse is something we learn to do. The brain can then become dependent or addicted to the substance that is being overly used. The down side is that the person starts needing to use more and more of the substance to her the “high” they crave.  Things spiral out of control rapidly.  Depression can set in, their life, relationships, family, career can then fall apart.

Behavioral Addiction

Behavioral addiction is just like it sounds: an addiction to a certain behavior. Currently, the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 classifies two behavioral addictions under “addictions and related disorders.” These are pathological gambling and Internet addiction. Other behaviors not yet classified as “addiction disorders” but which are similar in nature, include addictions to:
  • Food
  • Sex
  • Exercise
  • Work
  • Video games
  • Shopping or shoplifting
These addictions are classified as “obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.”