Addiction and Addictive Behaviors: Types & Warning Signs

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  • 0:02 Good & Bad Dependence
  • 0:33 Addictive Behavior
  • 2:46 Types of Addictions
  • 4:18 Warning Signs
  • 5:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will define addiction and addictive behavior in addition to taking a look at what addictive behaviors have in common and what things to look out for in a potential addict.

Good and Bad Dependence

True independence is virtually impossible to come by. We all depend on family, friends, colleagues, and even the unseen masses to support our daily needs or way of life. We may even depend on a favorite TV program to help us unwind after a day's hard work. These forms of dependence are good for us in many ways. However, there are instances when dependence upon something causes a person or society a bit of harm and that will be the topic of our discussion.

Addiction and Addictive Behavior

A state of physical or psychological dependence on a behavior or substance, especially compulsive dependence, to the extent that such dependence leads to societal or personal harm is known as an addiction. Addictive behavior is a habit that has spun out of control, resulting in negative consequences upon one's own health.

Addictive behaviors often times have some things in common. I think the first one is kind of an obvious one - it's called reinforcement. Reinforcement in the sense that this behavior brings about a pleasurable experience and may get rid of a negative one, if only temporarily. This type of experience reinforces such a behavior.

Another aspect of addictive behavior is compulsion, meaning having a great need to perform a behavior. Sometimes this compulsion goes way beyond just a need and may entail detailed planning of how and when to perform this behavior in the future.

A further problem with addictive behavior sort of goes back to my introduction: it's a loss of control. The addicts cannot control their behavior and cannot stop their urge to perform it. Their independence, in a sense, is lost to this. But this dependency, as you can only imagine by our prior definitions, is anything but positive.

And one other well-known issue, other than reinforcement, of addictive behavior is escalation. This is stereotypically attributed to hardcore drug users that need more of their drug to get the high they want, but escalation isn't limited to only drug use.

Of course, as we all know, all of what I mentioned leads to negative consequences. It's easy to understand how any addictive behavior can take time and finances away from a day-to-day job or daily life. This is why addicts may suffer from poor health, broken relationships, deteriorating job performance, not to mention the possible financial and legal consequences stemming from their addictive behavior.

Types of Addictions and Addictive Behaviors

These addictive behaviors do not come out of nowhere, though. They may actually start very innocently - a beer here, a lottery ticket there. Eventually the person will crave more of a substance or action in order to bring about pleasure or get rid of pain and suffering. They may eventually realize they are addicted but will be powerless to stop it, especially in light of the fact that their addiction may no longer be one of providing pleasure but simply one of avoiding pain as a result of its cessation.

Now, this doesn't mean every person who buys a lottery ticket or drinks one beer will become an addict. Not true at all. But combinations of genetic factors, peer pressure, a person's lifestyle, environment, personality, and the nature of the substance or behavior itself all play important roles in increasing or decreasing the chances of developing an addiction. And people do not have to be addicted only to alcohol or gambling; here are some other examples of well-known addictions and addictive behaviors:

  • Tobacco and nicotine
  • Illegal and prescription drugs
  • Surfing the Internet
  • Shopping
  • Work
  • Sex
  • Exercise
  • Eating
  • Watching TV or playing video games

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