What is a behavioural addiction?
A behavioural addiction is an involuntary compulsion to engage in an activity that is stimuli-rewarding, but not substance-related. There is no addiction to harmful solid substances, such as drugs or alcohol, involved. It is a type of mental “reward” that satisfies a compulsion without requiring the addict to physically absorb a “mood enhancing” substance.
These compulsive behaviours are carried out despite a range of negative consequences in terms of the person’s physical, mental, social or financial wellbeing. The addiction is a recurring compulsion; an irresistible, ongoing urge to repeatedly engage in a specific activity, despite the addict knowing that it is harmful in some way.
Sometimes the compulsion may not be about actually doing something, but rather about avoiding something, such as postponing a task or not doing a task at all. An example of this is procrastination; the addict has a history of putting off the fulfilment of tasks, even though they know there may be negative consequences if the task is not done in time.
Behavioural addictions are also referred to as “natural awards” or “process addictions”. With the right psychiatric course of treatment many of these behaviours can be overcome and individuals can lead fulfilled lives again.
The eating disorder treatment programme provides support for people in recovery from eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating and other food and body image related issues.