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Exploring the Psychological Aspects of Non-Substance Addiction

Non-substance addiction is a serious matter. It may not involve substance abuse but the effects that it produces in people’s lives are at par with the consequences that drug addicts suffer from. It is not something that should be taken lightly. 

To fully deal with it, understanding the mental aspects of non-drug addiction is imperative. The following are the main psychological concepts that you need to understand when a person is suffering from non-substance addiction:

1. What is involved in non-substance addiction?

Non-substance addiction takes place when a person is involved in a compulsive activity or behavior. These activities provide a kind of pleasure that is temporary. Such leads to consequences that are negative and damaging. 

2. What are its different kinds?

There are different kinds of non-substance addiction and the following are the most common:

  • Internet addiction – the compulsive need to be online 
  • Gambling addiction – the compulsive need to bet or gamble
  • Sex addiction – the compulsive need to engage in sexual activities
  • Gaming addiction – the compulsive urge to play online games
  • Food addiction – the compulsive need to eat
  • Shopping addiction – compulsive shopping

3. How is it similar to substance addiction?

There is a similarity between the two because a person suffering from behavioral addiction also experiences the following:

  • Loss of control – both find it hard to control their actions and behavior
  • Intense craving – both suffer from extreme desire to do a certain activity or use a certain drug
  • Negative consequences experienced on a daily basis – as they can no longer control their actions, people suffering from either kind of addiction similarly suffer consequences that include having strained relationships and financial troubles.

4. What psychological factors are at play?

People who suffer from non-substance addiction often suffer from underlying psychological issues. They often have anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, or trauma that they are not aware of. When such are not addressed, they end up doing compulsive behaviors triggered by unchecked psychological concerns. 

5. How is escapism related to it?

People who suffer from unchecked psychological concerns use non-substance addiction as a way to escape from having to deal with their issues as it provides temporary pleasure. It however causes more damage and negative consequences as nothing is addressed and the problem is left unprocessed. 

6. What happens to the brain?

Non-substance addiction changes the structure and balance of the brain. As there is an abundance of hormones that give a high and allow for temporary pleasure, the brain’s system for decision-making, motivation, and reward becomes dysfunctional.

The brain is not used to feeling massive amounts of pleasure all the time. 

7. Is there a cycle involved?

Yes, non-substance addiction follows a cycle. It involves the following phases: craving, indulgence, guilt, and further craving. This is the same cycle that people suffering from substance addiction go through. This is something that can be addressed during recovery. 

8. How does it impact relationships?

People suffering from non-substance addiction end up having strained relationships because as addiction sets in, the compulsive behavior that they use to escape becomes the center of their lives.

They begin to isolate themselves and lose touch with their social circles. The non-substance addiction becomes their obsession. 

9. How to treat it?

Non-substance addiction can be treated through therapy, membership in support groups, and in rare cases, medication. Self-awareness is key to recovery. One has to be aware of his psychological issues and triggers that fuel the non-substance addiction. 

10. Does it involve co-occurring disorder?

People who suffer from non-substance addiction often have co-occurring mental concerns like anxiety and depression. Some even have personality disorders. This is why it is imperative to go through therapy and counseling.

The non-substance addiction and the co-occurring mental health disorder need to be both addressed during recovery.

11. How does it impact daily life?

Non-substance addiction causes major damage and disruption to a person’s life. When one is suffering from non-substance addiction, he or she ends up having financial problems and legal issues. The person also ends up feeling lonely due to a self-imposed isolation that allows them to continuously engage in their non-substance addiction. 

12. What prevention strategies can be utilized?

The following can be deployed to prevent non-substance addiction:

  • Use of healthy coping mechanisms – this helps a person to truly address a concern and choose to not escape
  • Intentional addressing of underlying psychological issues and concerns like trauma – this can be done through therapy, journaling, or intentional reflection
  • Recognition of triggers – self-awareness greatly helps in the prevention of non-substance addiction
  • Building a positive self-esteem – an empowered person with a good sense of self will not choose to escape from problems as there is an inherent knowledge that he or she can do anything that he or she puts his or her mind to as he or she knows that he or she is capable.

13. What is the risk of relapse?

Similar to substance addiction, people who have recovered from non-substance addiction can also experience relapse. This is avoidable through effective planning, solid commitment, and dedicated management of needs for recovery. 

14. Does one’s environment play a role in it?

Yes, people who have easy access to environments where compulsive behavior can take place tend to develop non-substance addiction. This is why self-awareness is extremely essential.

15. How can one begin recovery?

Recovery can begin as soon as there is acceptance that there is a problem. Once a person recognizes that something needs to change, recovery can take place. This is when therapy and lifestyle changes take place. This is where healing begins. 

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