But wait! There’s more! Some addictions also involve an inability to stop partaking in activities, such as gambling, eating, or working. In these circumstances, a person has a behavioral addiction.
- Uncontrollably seeking drugs or uncontrollably engaging in harmful levels of the addictive behavior, e.g., the shopper spends so much money that it endangers the family finances.
- Neglecting or losing interest in activities that do not involve the harmful substance or behavior, e.g., dropping out of exercise classes, bridge, etc., in favor of eBay.
- Relationship difficulties, which often involve lashing out at people who point out the dependency. In the shopping example, arguments with one’s significant other are obvious!
- An inability to stop using a drug, though it may be causing health problems or personal problems, such as issues with employment or relationships. So, maybe the shopping addict is shopping online during work hours.
- Hiding substances or behaviors and otherwise exercising secrecy, for example, by refusing to explain injuries that occurred while under the influence. In the case of the shopping addict, maybe shredding credit card statements so family members won’t see the dozens of PayPal charges.
- Profound changes in appearance, including a noticeable abandonment of hygiene. For the shopping addict, noticeable changes might include a sudden increase in fashionable accessories, new golf clubs, etc.
- Increased risk-taking, both to access the substance or activity and while using it or engaging in it. You fill in the examples! Maybe the money runs out and theft results.
Stopping the use of a drug can lead to anxiety.
These symptoms include:
Some of these symptoms are more typical of substance abuse than of behavioral addiction, but all could work for a character. On the other hand, if a person has regularly used alcohol or benzodiazepines, and stop suddenly or without medical supervision, withdrawal can be fatal.
Addiction is a serious, chronic dependence on a substance or activity.
A person with an addiction is unable to stop taking a substance or engaging in a behavior, though it has harmful effects on daily living.
Misuse is different from addiction. Substance misuse does not always lead to addiction, while addiction involves regular misuse of substances or engagement in harmful behavior.
BOTTOM LINE: Nearly any comforting activity—be it eating in general or chocolate, drugs or gambling—can become an addiction. Symptoms of addiction often include declining physical health, irritation, fatigue, and an inability to cease using a substance or engaging in a behavior. Addiction can lead to behavior that strains relationships and inhibits daily activities. Ceasing to use the substance or engage in the behavior often leads to withdrawal symptoms, as listed above.