How Do Behaviors Become Addictive?

How Do Behaviors Become Addictive?

Many of us are struggling with addictive behaviors that may not include substance abuse. We might be addicted to sex or dating, gaming, gambling, shopping, shoplifting, or eating. Any behavior that we engage in can become addictive, meaning even things that are normal, natural parts of life such as sex and food become destructive and harmful for us. How do our behaviors become addictive?

At the root of our addictions there is often an unresolved pain we have yet to fully face. When we haven’t yet been able to face the truth of ourselves and our wounds, we look to things, substances, activities and relationships to make ourselves feel better. We find escape in these external sources of pleasure. We find the high we get from them so much more appealing than the pain of our inner world. We’re often afraid to deal with our issues – our fears, our insecurities, our shortcomings, our mistakes and regrets. We can be filled with so much shame and self-loathing that we seek to distract ourselves any way we can. What was once a normal activity for us, such as eating, becomes full of complicated emotion. We might binge eat because it takes our mind off our pain temporarily, but then be so consumed with guilt and embarrassment that we have now caused ourselves even more pain. We then try to escape our pain again by eating more, causing vicious cycles of self-destructiveness that we have a very hard time freeing ourselves from.

With our addictive behaviors, it is often the underlying emotions behind them that make us become dependent upon them. We’re not necessarily addicted to the food, although it appears that way. What we’re addicted to is the feeling of release and escape it gives us, the way it helps us distract ourselves and avoid the truth, the way it helps us maintain our denial and gives us an outlet for our pain. Healing from our dependence on these behaviors is all about figuring out why we sought them out in the first place. What pain are we afraid to feel? What fears have we yet to examine? When we’re able to look at ourselves and our thoughts and feelings with honesty and clarity, we see that our pain is the real issue, not the behavior itself. The behaviors we become dependent upon can easily be replaced with others. When we kick one bad habit, for example, we often will develop another. It is only when we heal the underlying pain that we can be free from our destructive behavioral patterns.

Residential treatment is one of the most time-tested and reliable methods of addiction recovery treatment. Call Bayview Recovery today to learn more information about how we can support you in your recovery: 888-570-7154.