Behavior Addictions
May 26, 2016


Behavior Addictions: Part One – Gambling and Fitness Addictions

When people think of an addiction disorder, drugs and alcohol are usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, there are a number of other addictions that can be just as problematic. A behavioral addiction is a form of addiction that is not related to drugs or alcohol, but is a compulsion to engage in a behavior that delivers some sort of euphoric feeling after a behavior takes place.

Behavioral addictions can be a problem for those in early recovery. Recovering addicts are known to sometimes take one addiction and substitute it with something else. Those same impulsive, instant gratification seeking, and obsessive personality traits are still there, so it makes sense that one addiction could easily be transferred to something else. This does not mean that a new addiction is as life threatening as drugs or alcohol, but an addict should always be mindful of potential problems. The most common behavioral addictions will be discussed in this three-part series.



Gambling is usually one of the first behavioral addictions that crosses one’s mind. Gambling can be going to the casino and blowing hundreds or thousands of dollars, to betting on football games and everything in between. There are so many ways to gamble in today’s society and participation in office brackets are common- so at times it may be difficult to realize that gambling has become a problem.

Everyone loves money, which is not a surprise. There is also a certain type of excitement that comes with gambling, waiting for the outcome, the chances of making more money than you started out with. We get it.

An addiction starts when the behavior starts to interfere with normal life. When relationships with loved ones are damaged and gambling is taking over all thoughts and actions, this is a problem. If you’re hiding the fact that you’re gambling, lying to your friends or loved ones about gambling behaviors or actions, and if others are expressing concerns over gambling actions- it may be safe to say an addiction is developing


A Danish study on fitness addiction from the University of Southern Denmark revealed that there were severaldifferent symptoms of the fitness addiction that were identified in this study. Some symptoms of a fitness 

exercise addiction

addiction are – exercise being the most important part of one’s life, it begins to interfere with relationships among family and friends, exercise is being used to regulate their mood, guilt ensues after missing a workout, and eventually exercise becomes the solution to all obstacles in their life.

Even though a fitness addiction can affect the individual’s body and their surroundings, it is not something that is negative enough to be diagnosed as a disorder. The overall message of being healthy is good for the general population- so many do not see this as a problem, but this study does show that an addiction can easily go from one thing to the next. We see many in early recovery (or recovery in general) who spend most of their time in the gym. Most people feel that because the addiction is now something considered to be a safe and healthy urge, this is not an issue, when it is in actuality quite dangerous.

Effects on the Brain

Behavioral addictions and substance addictions have similar effects on the brain. The results from these actions influence the brain’s reward system through the neurotransmitter called dopamine. Alcohol, drugs, and these behaviors cause the same sensation in users and is the main reason addiction is formed.

Join us for the additional parts in this series on behavioral addictions to discuss other common topics such as sex, shopping, internet, food, and video games.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a behavioral addiction that is interrupting their life, there is help. The help of a solid support group and therapy is a start. It can be difficult to get started on the path to recovery without the assistance of professionals who have helped people through the process before. To learn more, call A New Start now: (844) TALK-ANS.


If you’re ready for A New Start, contact us today! Contact Us