The first part of this two-part series dealt with four behavioral disorders, termed ‘addictions’. We discovered that many of these activates, sex and gambling, activate the same receptors and regions in the brain as drugs and alcohol. This second part discusses four more common behavioral addictions and their impact on the lives of society.
Video Game Addiction
Much like internet addiction, this addiction is a relatively new trend brought about by the popularity of video games. Video game addiction seems to affect mostly males, usually between age 13-29. This addiction is characterized by a compulsive need to play video games and can consume up to 8-12 hours each day. These ‘out-of-control’ gamers tend to start ignoring their responsibilities and duties in order to continue playing the game. Certain games even have higher rates of addiction among them. Gamers most prone to video game addiction play games like League of Legends or World of Warcraft, both multiple-player RPG type games; ‘Role Playing Game’. These games have huge followings and are intensely competitive, requiring enormous amounts of time to be an expert. Gamers often begin to lose their sense of reality and the fantasy video game begins to become their reality. Video games offer a person a way to escape the realities of life and immerse themselves in a digital world where they can be whoever they want; a superhero, a wizard, or a king. Treatment for video game addiction requires separation from video games, along with counseling or behavioral modification.
Plastic Surgery Addiction
Although not as common as some of the other addictions, plastic surgery addiction is certainly a dangerous reality for some. So what exactly is plastic surgery addiction? It can be defined as an obsession with changing their appearance through surgery, resulting in dozens and even close to a hundred separate surgeries. They become obsessed with changing their appearance to match an ideal image in their head of what they should look like. Although friends and family tell them they are beautiful or flawless, the addict is not satisfied with their own body. This addiction often goes along with other mental disorders, such as body dysmorphic disorder and chronic low self-image. People who become addicted to plastic surgery will pursue surgeries even when they can’t afford it and it begins to negatively affect their health and appearance. A very interesting case study can be found here.
It is widely debated whether food obsessions are true addictions or it is closer to a disorder. Recently it has been shown that binge eating disorder that affects around 3 percent of the adults in America. Often the eating process about which a person binge eats is similar to a drug addiction. First a craving occurs, in this case hunger. Then an emotional trigger happens, such as sadness, anxiety, or guilt. The ‘food addict’ then eats, often to ease emotions and find a sense of relief. Food, like sex and drugs, also releases dopamine. This occurs because eating is necessary for survival, so it creates pleasure in the brain in order to motivate us to eat and replenish ourselves. While the issue of whether overeating is a true addiction still remains, millions of Americans struggle with it. There is even a 12 step group, OA, or Overeaters Anonymous.
Does thrills or risk really get you excited? Thrill seekers share many of the same symptoms as drug addicts; they get a rush from skydiving or rock climbing, but after a while, they seek out even more dangerous adventures to feel that same level of excitement. And studies show that these “thrills” release the same flood of brain chemicals released by addictive drugs.