Addiction or substance use disorder is a complex disease that affects a person’s social, professional, and romantic life. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2020 report, substance use disorder affects over 40.3 million Americans above 12. About 8.2 million young adults between 18 and 25 were the highest users of drugs and alcohol. 

 Identifying addictive behavior is crucial to recovering from it. Ignoring the problem won’t make it disappear. Knowing the warning signs will help a family member realize they are struggling with addiction and seek help. This post discusses the behavioral signs of addiction and how to seek treatment.

What is a Behavioral Addiction?

A behavioral addiction describes a compulsive behavior that usually spirals out of control. This behavior becomes problematic for the individual in the long run. A sign of addiction is continuing a habit despite knowing its negative consequences. The factor responsible for this continuation of behavior is dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for the brain’s reward system and pleasure. The release of this chemical produces the euphoria that people experience when they use drugs, drink alcohol, watch porn, or masturbate. Because dopamine reacts in response to these addictive patterns of behaviors, dopamine is secreted in high amounts, which makes it more complicated to stop addiction.

Although various addictions exist, such as gambling, food, sex/pornography, shopping, and substance use, we shall only focus on substance addiction.

What Are the Behavioral Signs of Addiction?

The signs of substance use vary depending on the substance and duration of use. For example, cocaine users may exhibit symptoms different from heroin or opioid users. However, many signs indicate that an individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These signs include;

  • Rapid and extreme mood changes. The person is aggressive and confrontational and might speak in a stutter.
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Agitation and restlessness. The person is full of energy and feels like doing anything.
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in routines, such as sleeping at different hours.
  • Loss of appetite and unexplained eating habits. The person may overeat on some days and avoid eating on other days.
  • Poor work or school performance. Complaints about missed days by employers or teachers become common.
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Risky behaviors such as driving under its influence
  • Poor concentration
  • Deterioration in personal hygiene
  • The individual develops a tolerance for the drug and experiences withdrawal symptoms when the substance is discontinued.
  • Cravings
  • The person runs into financial problems, as they spend significantly on purchasing the substance.
  • Secretive behavior, including hiding the substance from others or becoming defensive when asked about their actions.
  • Social withdrawal or isolation. The person discards their old friends and spends more time in the company of new friends with a similar addiction.
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Depending on the behavior, to cope with a difficult situation.
  • Continued disease, despite the consequences.
  • Expressing guilt after engaging in the behavior but soon returning to it.
  • Becoming upset and angry when unable to engage in taking the substance.

If you notice any of the above behavioral signs of addiction in a person, they may be struggling with a problem. Contact a healthcare center or seek help from an addiction specialist to provide support.

Causes of Behavioral Addiction

The exact cause of this addiction is unknown. However, research suggests that some biological and psychological factors make some people susceptible to addiction more than others.

For example, a family with a history of mental health issues has a higher risk for behavioral addiction. At least one in subsequent generations will experience an addictive problem.

Those who witnessed childhood trauma, child abuse, or neglect are also at risk of becoming addicted to a substance. Those with existing disorders are more likely to develop behavioral addictions.

Certain behavioral patterns and choices also heighten the risk. For example, those who engage in a particular behavior on multiple occasions are more likely to develop behavioral addictions. If you haven’t taken drugs before but indulge in the act several times, you will likely develop an addictive problem.

Treating Behavioral Addiction

Many treatment options are available for these addiction problems. Research suggests many treatment options for substance use disorder can effectively treat behavioral addictions.

Some of the treatment options available include;

Outpatient therapy

Outpatient therapy allows you to go about your day-to-day life while you attend sessions for a few hours once or twice weekly. This therapy is conducted by a licensed counselor or psychologist.


Medications aren’t typically a treatment option for behavioral addiction, but they can be important when combined with therapy. Medications should be prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner.

Residential Inpatient

This is more intensive than the outpatient. Patients are administered in a facility and access 24-hour medical care. This structured program is recommended for patients with severe behavioral addictions.

Support groups

Beyond the traditional support groups like Narcotics Alcoholics and SMART Recovery, other informal ones help people struggling with behavioral addictions. These groups might not have a trained professional, but they are pretty knowledgeable about addiction. They can provide some insights into overcoming this behavior.

SOBA NJ Can Help You Overcome Behavioral Addiction

Seeking professional help for behavioral addiction is challenging because not many healthcare centers cater to this problem. With SOBA New Jersey Drug and Alcohol Rehab, you can get the help you need to address your addiction. We follow a holistic approach and comprehensive therapy programs to help get your life back. Contact us today to learn more about our New Jersey drug and alcohol rehab center.