While the human mind is characterized by flexibility and the ability to adapt to the challenges of the environment, this ease of adjusting its operation in different ways is a double-edged sword.
Among other things, this implies that there is also a wide variety of mismatches that can arise in people’s mental health. And there are even psychological and psychiatric disorders in which at first glance it is not easy to distinguish between pathological choices and simple choices a person makes about how they want to behave and live their life.
The case of addictions in which no drugs are involved is an example of the latter, and in fact, it is a problem that often raises alarm when it is already ingrained in a person’s behavior. In this article we will see what they are the characteristics of substance-free addictions and how they are treated in therapy.
What are substanceless addictions?
As the name suggests, addictions without substances these are disorders in which the person develops an addictive relationship, but not towards a drug, but towards a type of behavior that feels the need to repeat itself over and over again. In fact, beyond what the person feels addicted to, non-substance addictions are not much different from drug addictions, including some of the better known ones like alcoholism, opioid addiction, etc.
In practice, these are usually serious problems which they lead those who suffer them to lose control of their lives, including managing your time and money, in large quantities, and in some cases also involve accelerated physical deterioration.
Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of non-substance addictions.
The 5 most important characteristics of substance-free addictions
These are the aspects that characterize behavioral addictions the most.
1. The person loses the ability to postpone addictive behavior
Step by step, the person ceases to be able to resist the need to adopt the behavior on which they feel dependent. For example, betting on slot machines.
2. The person develops tolerance
As with drug addiction, over time, the person needs to become more and more involved in addictive behavior to experience the same intensity of feeling full.
3. If you spend a lot of time without consuming addictive behavior, discomfort occurs.
Withdrawal syndrome makes the person feel very bad until they fall, although this option will cause you more discomfort in the long run.
4. They predispose people to develop other addictions
Although substance-free addictions on paper do not involve drug use, in practice developing this type of disorder it greatly increases the risk of developing parallel drug addictions.
This is due to the person’s pattern of mismanagement of emotions and impulse modulation that the person adopts, as well as the type of recreational contexts they enjoy being in (for example, in places where money is usually bet. , there is a lot of alcohol available and easily accessible).
5. Drug addiction is well camouflaged among socially accepted behaviors
Unlike most drug addictions, in which substance use is considered a sign of possible pathology, in substanceless drug addiction, problematic behaviors go more unnoticed, because there is no image of a person introducing into their body a substance with psychoactive effects.
Treatment of this type of addiction
In psychotherapy it is possible to help people develop better ways to manage their impulses and to spot warning signs that indicate a high risk of relapse. In addition, people are given information on how to transform their environment to minimize the risk of relapse.
On the other hand, in psychological therapy, patients are also accompanied in the process of discovering and applying their own activities full of incentives which are on the fringes of addiction. This way, it’s easier to stop constantly thinking about the behaviors that were causing the addiction.
On the other hand, although drug-free addiction does not interfere with drug use, the need for psychiatric treatment is often indicated, combining it with psychotherapy.; from medicine it is possible to use drugs that help relieve the symptoms associated with anxiety and withdrawal syndrome, although always on a case-by-case basis and under professional supervision.
Are you looking for psychotherapeutic treatment for addictions?
If you are interested in having psychotherapy services to overcome an addiction, contact our team of professionals.
A Cepsim Psychological Center we have psychologists trained in the psychotherapeutic management of all kinds of mental health problems including intervention in cases of substance dependence or addiction without drug use. In addition, we offer the possibility of conducting the sessions in person at our centers across Madrid, or through the online video call therapy format.
- American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Kauer, JA, Malenka RC (2007) .. “Synaptic plasticity and dependence” Opinions Nature Neuroscience (8): 844 – 858.
- Potenza, Minnesota (2009). Dependence not on substances and substances. Addiction (Abingdon, England), 104 (6), 1016.
- Zou, Z., Wang, H., Uquillas, FDO, Wang, X., Ding, J. and Chen, H. (2017). Definition of drug addiction and non-addiction. Substance and non-substance dependence, 21 – 41.