Understanding Behavioral Addiction in Men Learn how you can identify the warning signs of addictive behaviors and aid in the recovery process in your marriage. BY MIKE KARL
An addictive behavior can become a serious source of stress in a marriage.
“ Behavioral scientists believe anything that stimulates a man is capable of becoming addictive.”
Does your significant other seem obsessed with certain behaviors that are confusing you? Are these behaviors a constant source of stress and arguments in your relationship? What are the most common types of behavioral addictions that impact your relationship? What are some warning signs of "behavioral or process addictions?" Is there a difference between substance related addictions and behavioral addictions? Do you need professional help and what is the treatment for these behavioral addictions?
With the increase in outside stimulus related to media and technology, the prevalence of behavioral addictions is on the rise and creating problems in many marriages. The good news is there is professional help available to couples to overcome these common problems.
Behavioral scientists believe anything that stimulates a man is capable of becoming addictive. The problem arises when that habit becomes an obligation. Unlike a substance related addiction where the person is physiologically addicted to the drug or substance, there is no physical addiction. The commonality is that the thoughts and feelings related to the "use" are the same. The compulsivity exists in both. The choice of whether to "use" or not has been removed.
The most common behavioral addictions found in men include gambling, sex, internet porn (technology in general), food, and risky behaviors. These addictive behaviors become compulsive and interfere with normal functionality at home, at work, and in the dependent persons relationships. When the change is noticed by others, especially spouses, it tends to cause confusion and anger. Spouses tend to think the cause of the change is their fault, so guilt and shame also come into play.
Here are warning signs of an addictive behavior in someone you love:
* Defensiveness about the issue when being discussed
* Reduced emotional control
* Dramatic mood swings
* Deception or lying about the behavior
* Decreased problem solving skills
* Inability to focus
* Anxious behavior
* Guilt related to the behavior
* Decreased participation in hobbies or other activities
* Isolation and secrecy
If these warning signs are present and you donít know what to do, there is help.
Enabling behavior is any action that a significant other engages in to reduce the inevitable consequences of addiction. If the addicted person is forced to face the reality of their actions, they are more likely to seek help. Although difficult, there are certain actions a significant other can take to aid in the recovery process.
* Learn the facts and educate yourself regarding addiction. Addiction thrives in ignorance. Guilt and shame dissipate with knowledge
* Donít support the addiction financially
* Avoid rescuing the addicted person. Consequences often create truth and insight
* Donít analyze the addictive behavior. That will lead you to accept responsibility for the problem. It is not your fault!
* Although it is difficult, try to avoid the roller coaster of pity and anger. When anger ceases it very commonly is replaced by pity. Neither emotion will aid in the recovery of the family.
Most importantly, seek professional help. There are many trained professionals who help families that are "stuck" get "unstuck." These addictive behaviors can have devastating consequences for everyone in the family. Professional help will aid the recovery process immensely. You donít have to live with the stress and anxiety any more.
Michael Karl is the Chief Operating Officer of Summit Behavioral Health. Michael has a Masterís Degree in Human Services and is a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor in New Jersey. Summit Behavioral Health has offices in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Summit offers both outpatient and residential treatment options.