Frequently Asked Questions about Behavioral Addictions
Behavioral addiction treatments are necessary for people to cope with a clinical problem such as it is, which many downplay. Contrary to what you may think, behavioral addictions can have serious consequences on the physical, mental and emotional health of those who suffer from it and their environment.
For that reason centers like CITA Clinics are important; They offer effective treatments to counteract negative behaviors of all kinds: sexual addictions, addictions to gambling, video games, shopping, internet or mobile. Find out more about how you can cope with these new addictions below.
➔ What are behavioral addictions?
Before investigating what behavioral addictions are, it is important to define what a behavior is. “Behavior or conduct is, in psychology terms, the set of responses, either by presence or absence, that a living being presents in relation to its environment or world of stimuli. It can be conscious or unconscious, voluntary or involuntary ”.
Therefore, the term “behavioral addictions” refers to recurrent behaviors that a person has towards a specific activity, and that share characteristics with drug or alcohol addictions. That is, they are habits that, although they do not have a direct negative effect on the health of the individual, they have detrimental repercussions in other aspects.
For example, behavioral addictions, as they are also known, negatively affect the mental and emotional aspect of the patient. In many cases it also has negative effects on social interaction, personal finances, among others.
➔ What is behavioral addiction treatment?
Behavioral addiction treatments, like those used to treat drug addiction, do not have a single method. Depending on the type of addiction and the profile of the patient, the center or professional in charge must develop a system that is effective. However, all treatments for behavioral addictions usually have a part focused on behavioral therapy and another on the use of medications.
In principle, the most important thing is to start the detoxification process in which the patient will be deprived of the habits that he performs compulsively. Then psychological treatment enters the scene, which is generally the most used to help the affected person identify, avoid and face the patterns that can reactivate these new addictions.
The next part of behavioral addiction treatment involves medications; These act as reinforcers to neutralize effects or symptoms that may lead to relapse. They are generally used to control symptoms of anxiety, mood disturbances, high impulsivity, obsessive thoughts, among other effects.
➔ What types of drugs are used to treat behavioral addictions?
Although there are no specific drugs to treat these new addictions, the centers and professionals use certain drugs in the treatment of behavioral addictions. Naltrexone is one of them, this drug is commonly used to block opioid receptors, such as heroin or morphine, and also to help prevent relapse in cases of alcohol addictions.
This drug has been shown to be effective in treating gambling addiction and kleptomania. Studies have also been published showing that naltrexone is a good ally against sexual addiction and excessive internet consumption. This is because opioid receptors behave in a similar way when suffering from a behavioral addiction to when addicted to a psychoactive substance.
Other medications that have been shown to be effective in treating behavioral addictions are those that alter the activity of glutamatergic neurons. Topiramate or N-acetylcysteine help regulate dopamine levels in these neurons, which affects the reward system and helps overcome addiction. For internet addiction, studies have been carried out on what antidepressants are used as part of the treatment of patients, but the results are not conclusive.
Given that these are new addictions, it is not surprising that further progress is still needed in the development of pharmaceutical and therapeutic treatment options.
➔ What therapies are used?
The treatment of behavioral addictions is composed of behavioral therapies that can be ambulatory or in which the patient is required to be hospitalized. These therapies help to understand, face and control the conditioned stimuli that can trigger the addiction to return. The goals of these therapies are:
- Achieve control of expenses.
- Plan consumption habits that the patient must adhere to.
- Strengthen relationships with family and friends that do not incite compulsive behavior.
- Identify risk situations.
Looking down on behavioral addictions is a mistake many make. This pathology can lead to serious problems if it is not treated in time. Fortunately, CITA Clinics and their healthcare professionals have developed effective behavioral addiction treatments.
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