Non-substance addiction is a serious mental health concern that not many are not aware of. It is best if one is equipped with basic psychological aspects of non-substance addiction knowledge as it will help in raising awareness. You or someone close to you may be experiencing one. Knowing the following will help:
What is the nature of non-substance addiction?
Non-substance addiction, also known as behavioral addiction, is a mental health concern that makes a person engage in behaviors compulsively. This kind of addiction does not involve consuming substances. One of the earliest forms of non-substance addiction is gambling. The following are examples of non-substance addiction:
- Internet and gaming addiction – compulsive engagement with the internet that disrupts one’s daily life
- Shopping addiction – one suffers from an uncontrollable urge to buy stuff
- Sexual addiction – compulsive engagement in sexual activities
- Work addiction – individuals suffer from difficulty in disengaging from work
What are its similarities to substance addiction?
Non-substance addiction is similar to substance addiction in the following aspects:
- Tolerance development – similar to substance addiction, people suffering from non-substance addiction crave more and more the more that they engage in a certain activity
- Withdrawal symptoms – people suffering from non-substance addiction also find it challenging once they decide to stop engaging in the behavior that they have been addicted to
- Loss of control – people suffering from non-substance addiction have a hard time controlling their urges and impulses. This is not a simple case of impatience.
What are behavioral compulsions?
Behavioral compulsions are actions such as but not limited to gaming, gambling, internet use, and shopping. These activities can provide temporary pleasure or escape. People tend to run to such activities when they feel incapable and weak to face stressors, problems, or issues head-on. Because most people are not equipped with tools that help them face the daily struggles of life, such individuals end up preferring escapism. Addiction is never the root problem. It is but a symptom of a mental headspace that needs space and time to heal.
What is the brain reward system?
Humans crave pleasure. So much so that most people fold instantly the very moment that they encounter a challenge. This very craving for pleasure plays a big role in non-substance addiction. People suffering from non-substance addiction have a malfunctioning brain reward system. As there has been too much pleasure or dopamine, the brain becomes unable to determine the normal and ideal level of hormones in the brain. It begins to crave more and more. This is when addiction – substance or non-substance – becomes life-disrupting.
What are psychological triggers?
People suffering from non-substance addiction often have psychological triggers that they are not even aware of. The following are examples of psychological triggers:
- Need for a reward
- Need for excitement
If you’re aware of your psychological triggers, you will be at an advantage, as you will know when to pause and be aware if you are about to engage in a compulsive behavior.
What is a coping mechanism or escapism?
Humans deal with issues and stressors every day. Some can deal well, some panic, while some get so overwhelmed that they freeze. People who do not face their problems often involve themselves in activities that allow them to cope in a superficial manner. The manner is superficial because the issue is not faced at all, all they do is delay the processing by engaging in pleasurable escapist activities like gambling, shopping, or gaming.
What are co-occurring mental health conditions?
People suffering from non-substance addiction can also suffer from co-occurring mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. People with such disposition will need a different kind of care and rehabilitation as the co-occurring mental health disorder needs to be addressed as well. A holistic approach to healing must be had.
What are developmental factors?
Individuals suffering from non-substance addiction often have psychological wounds incurred from childhood experiences. Such psychological wounds can hinder development in such a way that a person becomes unable to face issues and stressors head-on. As childhood experiences are often forgotten, it often takes time for people to determine where their aches and pains truly came from. Uncovering one’s psychological wounds from childhood will help a person – suffering from addiction or not – live his or her life for the better.
What could be its impact on daily functioning?
A person who compulsively participates in a certain behavior can have his or her life disrupted as such a person may fail to make good his obligations and responsibilities. This can also lead to strained personal and professional relationships. If you or anyone you know has been showing signs of losing control, then it is best to reflect or invite that person to do some self-reflection. It is always better when one becomes aware that he or she is engaging in a coping mechanism. Such knowledge will simply send a message that there is a problem and he or she is choosing to not face it.
What treatment approaches are available?
A person suffering from non-substance addiction can recover. There are numerous treatment approaches available. The following can be considered:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy – this therapy will focus on the interrelation between one’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
- Motivational enhancement therapy – this approach will focus on strengthening one’s motivation through achieving realistic goals within time frames
- Support group participation – will involve opening up and sharing insights with other individuals with the same disposition