Can Behavioral Addictions Be Treated Concurrently with Physical Addictions?

The Recovery Village RidgefieldRehab

Woman looking at a laptop with credit cards.

Addiction is addiction. The physical and mental components of addiction are irrevocably linked together into a tangled snarl of want and need that can – and does – destroy lives. Because co-occurring disorders are common among those who with substance use disorders, both conditions are commonly treated in Washington State rehab facilities. For example, almost one-third of the college students that present with a substance use disorder also have an underlying mental illness.

But what about behavioral addiction, such as compulsive eating or gambling and substance (or physical) addiction to medications, alcohol, or illegal drugs? How common are they?

This article explains the difference between behavioral addiction and physical addiction, offers examples of common behavioral addictions, and discusses how behavioral addictions can be treated concurrently with other disorders in rehab.

Co-Occurring Disorders and Treatment in Washington State Rehab

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that 7.9 million people have a mental health disorder and a substance use addiction. But Science Direct says that any type of compulsive behavior, whether it is tied to mental illness, a behavioral disorder such as kleptomania or another impulse control disorder, or substance use, has crossover characteristics listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

Psychology Today points out the hair-thin line between these all types of addiction-related illnesses. Simply put, they say that the brain really cannot tell the difference between the types of addiction. So in the case of behavioral addiction, such as an addiction to technology, the article suggests that the user feels something very similar to those physically addicted to drugs or alcohol:

I don’t want to stop it. I know it’s bad for me, but it makes me feel better.

Scientific studies show that addiction causes the brain to release “feel good” chemicals such as dopamine that reward the brain and body with a positive feeling. It does not matter if the feel-good state comes from watching pornography, shooting crack, or getting drunk; addiction is addiction, experts say.

Science Direct defines behavioral addiction as:

An intense desire to repeat some action that is pleasurable, or perceived to improve well-being, or capable of alleviating some personal distress, despite the awareness that such an action may have negative consequences. From a psychological, neurological, and social standpoint such repeated patterns of actions which are characterized as “addictive behavior” include drug as well as alcohol addiction.

Woman cleaning.

Obsessive cleaning can be a behavioral disorder or it could be tied to a mental illness called obsessive-compulsive disorder.

According to, the biggest difference between behavioral and physical addiction is that substance use causes long-term physical damage not necessarily seen as a direct result of behavioral addictions. However, indirect physical damage can be caused by behavioral addictions such as compulsive exercising or overeating.

Both behavioral and physical addictions can be treated successfully in Washington State rehab facilities.

Treating Co-Occurring Addictions in Washington State Rehab

The first step toward understanding behavioral addiction or physical addiction is to seek help from a Washington State addiction treatment facility. Both behavioral and physical addiction can be treated successfully in rehab. Together, we can chart a course away from the activities that are harming you. To learn more about admissions, call now.