Addiction is a complex disorder that can take many forms. While many people think of addiction as being solely related to substance abuse, there are also behavioral addictions that can be just as serious. Below, we’ll explore the differences between substance use disorder and behavioral addictions.
Substance Use Disorder
Substance use disorder (SUD) refers to the use of drugs or alcohol that leads to significant impairment and distress. It is a chronic, relapsing disorder that causes a strong urge or compulsion to seek and use drugs or alcohol despite negative and sometimes life-changing consequences. You can develop a SUD from a variety of substances, including prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and alcohol.
Symptoms of SUD can include:
- Continued use of drugs or alcohol despite negative consequences
- Tolerance to the effects of drugs or alcohol
- Withdrawal symptoms when not using
- Using larger amounts of drugs or alcohol than intended
- Failed attempts to quit using
- Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the substance
- Giving up social, occupational, or recreational activities in favor of drug or alcohol use
- Using drugs or alcohol in hazardous situations, such as while driving
- Neglecting important obligations to pursue substance use
Substance use disorder can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. It can also lead to a range of negative consequences, including physical health problems, legal problems, financial problems, and relationship problems.
Behavioral addictions, also known as process addictions, are addictions to non-substance-related behaviors. Like substance use disorder, they involve a compulsion to engage in the behavior despite negative consequences. Some examples of behavioral addictions include:
- Gambling addiction
- Social media/internet addiction
- Sex addiction
- Porn addiction
- Shopping addiction
- Food addiction
- Exercise addiction
Signs of behavioral addictions can include:
- Preoccupation with the behavior
- Increased tolerance for the behavior
- Withdrawal symptoms when not engaging in the behavior
- Failed attempts to quit or reduce the behavior
- Continuing the behavior despite negative consequences
- Neglecting vital obligations in favor of the behavior
- Spending a lot of time engaging in the behavior
Substance Use Disorder Vs. Behavioral Addictions – Which is Worse?
It can be hard to compare substance use disorder and behavioral addictions, as they are both serious psychological conditions with potentially devastating consequences. What makes one worse than the other is often subjective and dependent on the individual.
However, it’s crucial to note that not all behavioral addictions carry the same risks of physical health problems that accompany substance use disorder. It’s also key to remember that both types of addiction can lead to serious mental health issues, financial problems, and relationship difficulties. It is also not uncommon for one form of addiction to trigger the onset of the other.
As such, it is essential for anyone struggling with addiction to seek professional help in order to begin the recovery process.
Substance use disorder and behavioral addictions are debilitating and life-altering psychological illnesses that can negatively impact every aspect of your life. Unfortunately for most people, both forms of addiction can prove challenging to overcome without professional help.
Luckily, there are proven treatments available that can help you overcome substance or behavioral dependency and guide you toward recovery. Remember that with professional treatment and proper care, recovery is possible.