What are Behavioral Addictions? Sex, Shopping, and Video Games

Shopping Addiction

In This Article

For the first part of this series, What are Behavioral Addictions? please see this recent post about process addictions.

Sex Addiction

Sex addiction has probably been around since the advent of mankind…or even before. Most of us think of sex as a normal, biologically necessary, healthy behavior. Indeed, some of us are opportunists, and others of us like, well, unusual or exciting aspects of sex and sexuality. But for the sex-addicted, sex becomes an all-encompassing obsession. As film and video became popular, pornographic images became more common. By the time the Internet was available in the 1990’s, it was inescapable. This widely-used medium is now both a product of, and contributor to our desire for sex.

Persons with sex addictions may spend long hours viewing pornography in whatever means they find the most comfortable and available. Unfortunately, those who venture outside of marriage and relationship may find their personal lives left in the dust. Also, sex addiction, like substance abuse, can cause other personal problems at work and in social circles.

Displaying excessive sexuality and cheating is typically frowned upon in American society, and the most severely addicted may find themselves isolated, grasping for sexual encounters with whomever, whenever they can. Ergo, they may also be at greater risk for venereal diseases. They also may suffer from depression or low self-esteem which contributes to their need for excessive sexual stimulation, despite negative consequences in their lives.

Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction is different than, but can be related to hoarding. Shopping addicts often love a sale, and enjoy the rush they get when buying something new. Often, the purchased item may not even live up to expectations, and the true excitement of shopping is often simply allocating things. Unfortunately, this desire can lead to financial difficulties, marital problems, and as noted above, hoarding behaviors.

It is has been oft speculated that that those addicted to shopping are actually trying to fill some other void in their lives, and in many cases, this may indeed be true. The bottom line is, however, the pleasure center in the shopper’s brain is being triggered in a way that overtakes other pleasures, and like any addiction, is a product of the biological need for stimulation.

Finally, another thanks goes out to the Internet…internet shopping is a multi-billion dollar-per-year business. Those in years past confined to retail stores, yard sales, and auctions now have constant access to anything in the world they would like to purchase.

Video Game Addiction

Gaming addiction is applied to those who spend copious amounts of time playing video games – to the extent that it interferes with their lives. Again, the Internet is a boon for gamers, as it has made more games accessible to even more people worldwide. Games are very apt at their ability to hijack young brains and provide endless hours of stimulation and entertainment. There are games which focus on so many slices of life – action, war, horror, role playing, etc. – that most interested parties are likely to find something very satisfying to latch onto.

Those severely addicted may find themselves avoiding school, work, or social situations in order to play games. Game chat rooms may help create a social circle, but ultimately do not really take the place of live human interaction. Like all addicts, they are not in control of their behavior. And like pornography, video games create a fantasy world, ergo some may use  games as a convenient means to avoid real-world responsibilities

If you suspect that you or someone you know has a behavioral addiction, please seek help immediately.


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