Behavioral Addiction

We often think of addictions as physical dependence such as alcohol or opioid use disorder. There are some addictions that can have negative consequences, but not necessarily be physically addictive. These are termed “behavioral” or “process” addictions and include habits such as gambling, risky behavior, shopping, video game, love/sex, eating, and exercising.


Individuals who find themselves addicted to these behaviors get a physiological reward, or high, while engaging thus enforcing the addiction. However, guilt and remorse can quickly follow (think withdrawal of a physical addiction).


Although we all shop, eat and exercise, the fact of the matter is:

  • People who are addicted to these behaviors will consequently struggle with other health issues and are unable to stop.
  • The behavior will disrupt the persons relationships at home and work.
  • The behavior will directly be responsible for other negative consequences. For example, a person with a shopping addiction may max out several credit cards causing incredible amounts of debt.
  • Despite these consequences, the person is unable to stop the behavior.


Quick Facts

Social media use can lead to addiction as well as anxiety.

About 2-3% of the American population has a gambling addiction – of that number, 25% are women.

It is estimated that about 1 in 10 people who play video games has an addiction.

Shopping addiction is even among men and women with 5.5% of men struggling and 6% of women.

One can have a food addiction and not be diagnosed with binge eating disorder (BED).





Possible Behavioral Addictions:




Video Games



Risky Behavior