Behavioural Addiction: What to Know in Community Service Programs Skip to main content

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When many people think of addiction, they often think first of addiction to drugs and alcohol. However, these substance addictions are not the only kind of addictions that people may have. Another form of addiction is called behavioural addiction, which is an addiction to a particular activity.

While behavioural addictions are often not taken as seriously by the general public as substance addictions are, they can be just as devastating. If you are considering a career as a community service and addictions worker, it is important that you understand what a behavioural addiction is and how it can be treated.

While Behavioural Addictions May Seem “Normal,” They Can Have Devastating Consequences

Behavioural addictions can be difficult for many people who don’t suffer from them to understand since the behaviour itself is often something that most would consider harmless. For example, it is possible to develop a behavioural addiction to shopping, gambling, exercise, sex, social media, food, and video games. Like drugs, these behaviours all trigger the reward center of the brain. Initially, the person feels a “high” when the reward center is activated. However, some people end up chasing this high, which can lead them to take an otherwise harmless behaviour to unhealthy extremes. When an activity turns into an obsession, the following consequences may result:

  • Loss of personal relationships
  • Financial problems
  • Job loss
  • Health problems
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Legal problems

The consequences will vary depending on the person and the nature of their addiction. For example, somebody with a gambling addiction is more likely to suffer financial problems, while somebody with kleptomania, which is the urge to steal, is more likely to run into legal problems. With a community service and addictions worker diploma, you can learn more about the consequences of each behavioural addiction. In many cases, the person exhibiting addictive behaviour is fully aware of the physical, financial and mental health consequences of their addiction, yet they feel unable to change their actions.

Behavioural addictions can cause personal relationships to deteriorate

Behavioural addictions can cause personal relationships to deteriorate

The causes of behavioural addiction vary from person to person

For some, behavioural addiction is a way of coping with a stressful situation or a way of filling a perceived “hole” in their lives. For others, the addiction may be the result of growing up in a household where such behaviours were either permitted or encouraged. There is also evidence that behavioural addictions are influenced by biology and hereditary factors. You can learn more about what causes behavioural addictions through community services and addictions worker training.

Using Community Services and Addictions Worker Training to Help Those with Behaviour Addictions

Because behavioural addictions involve everyday activities, many people are often confused as to why a person experiencing an addiction cannot just stop the behaviour. In some cases, people may believe that somebody with a behavioural addiction suffers from poor self-discipline and that their addiction is simply a sign that they lack self-control. However, this view is untrue and may even discourage a person who has a behavioural addiction from seeking help.

Counselling is considered one of the best ways of helping people overcome their addictions. Many people with behavioural addictions also find help through support groups where they can find a welcoming environment with others who are going through the same addiction. Through community service programs you’ll be able to learn more about some of these and other options.

Do you want to complete training for a rewarding career?