Behavioral Addictions: Part 2 – Sex Addiction and Shopping Addiction
In our previous blog post, Behavior Addictions: Part 1, we discussed behavioral addictions to gambling and fitness. Continuing into the second of this three-part series, we are going to look into two other behavioral addictions that are among the most common in the United States: Sex and Shopping.
A common theme that is seen when looking at addictions is that all addicts, whether they have substance or behavioral addictions, have something in common; They all have something lacking in their lives. Addicts fill this void by turning to substances or behaviors, then clinging on to these new “hobbies” in an unhealthy manner that interferes with normal daily functions to an extreme and problematic level. When behavioral addictions get so out of control that they are causing one’s life to fall apart, treatment may be necessary.
Sexual addiction is a term that you have probably heard in mainstream media stories over recent years (Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods, Russell Brand to name a few) as well as in documentaries that have aired specials on sexual addicts. There are many different forms of sexual addiction, and sometimes it is not even about physical sex. People can just as easily get addicted to close relationships and being involved with another person intimately. Most sex/relationship addicts have an extreme fear of abandonment, leading them to stay in unhealthy relationships, jump from relationship to relationship very quickly, or become sexually/emotionally involved with people they barely know.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from a sexual addiction, considering the following statements may help determine if treatment is necessary:
- You feel powerless over how you act sexually
- Your sexual choices are making your life unmanageable
- You feel shame, embarrassment or even self-loathing over your sexual acts
- You promise yourself you’ll change, but fail to keep those promises
- You’re so preoccupied with sex it becomes like a ritual to you
Compulsive shopping can be characterized by an obsession with shopping and spending behavior that becomes disruptive and difficult to control, ultimately resulting in overwhelming negative consequences. Compulsive shopping/spending is described as an impulse-control disorder, often developing as a result of people getting addicted to the way their brain feels while shopping – similar to a drug addict and their substance of choice.
In today’s society, shopping is a common hobby, and the occasional shopping spree or impulse buy does not a shopaholic make. Some identifying signs of a compulsive shopping/spending disorder are:
- Spending over your budget
- Buying more than what is needed
- Keeping the excessive buy a secret from friends and family
- Preferring the use of credit cards to cash
- Shopping in order to eliminate feelings of anger, depression or loneliness
- Arguing frequently with other people about your shopping habits
- Experiencing guilt and shame after a spending spree
- Delaying paying bills and opening new credit accounts to allow more shopping
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 other addictive behaviors cause the same sensation amongst users and is the main reason addiction is formed.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a behavioral addiction that is interrupting their life, there is help. A New Start, Inc. can provide individuals with the solid support and therapy they need through our Outpatient Treatment Facility. To learn more, call A New Start now: (844) TALK-ANS.