Addictions and Compulsions
Identifying The Signs and Symptoms
Compulsive behaviors include substance abuse, chronic gambling, sexual addictions, unrestrained spending and shopping, excessive exercising and dieting, hoarding and many other dysfunctional behaviors. Any compulsive tendencies can turn into an addiction when the behavior spirals out of control, affecting a person’s capability of functioning academically, socially and professionally.
Another significant distinction between a compulsion and addiction has to do with the person's consciousness of reality. When someone has an obsessive compulsive condition, they're commonly aware that the obsession isn't real and they're quite often troubled by feeling the need to repeat the behavior, even if it defies logic, yet they end up doing it anyway to relieve anxiety and end up feeling more distress, shame and guilt because they can't get the disorder under control.
In comparison, individuals with addictions often feel detached from the craziness of their actions, feeling that they're just having a good time, and that any possible concerns aren’t important; this is what is often referred to as “living in denial”. Unfortunately, in many cases, addicts don't face the problem until a major consequence affects them and those that love them like getting a DUI, loosing a job, or a marriage that ends up in divorce, etc.
In most cases, compulsions and addictions develop out of an underlying psychological problem, like depression, and the behavior seems to temporarily relieve anxiety or stress or anxiety. Compulsive behaviors frequently result in the same neurological paths that some substances activate in the brain of somebody that has a drug addiction, and this cycle of reward can make the activity that much more attractive and, ultimately, addictive.
Those with extreme mental health conditions like being bipolar, often experience poor impulse control that makes it hard and even impossible to resist their compulsive urges. Also, in rare cases, dopamine agonist medications that treat Parkinson's and ADHD can cause intense compulsive behaviors.
Therapy for Addictions and Compulsions
Compulsive behaviors and addictions in some cases give the person dealing with them a strange sense of euphoria, confidence, power and validation; feelings that many may feel are lacking in their lives. Fortunately psychotherapy can help people recognize their uncomfortable feelings and the sources of the distress they're feeling, thereby helping them address the problem. People, who struggling with both addiction and compulsions will in most cases, not be able to conquer the behaviors without addressing the underlying causes. Working with a therapist is an effective way to address these issues and learn how to manage them. Types of therapy to consider include an experience therapist, support groups and/or 12 step programs.