Behavioral Addiction Treatment Programs

Much like drugs and alcohol, behavioral addictions begin when neurotransmitters and natural chemicals reach the brain and result in a euphoric sensation, or “high.” This leads some people to have cravings related to these behaviors, resulting in an unhealthy engagement and participation level. Many people suffer from behavioral addictions such as gambling, sex, shopping, gaming, food, exercise, work, etc. You can develop an addiction to any behavior that you choose to engage in excessively while avoiding other responsibilities such as work and family.

Overcoming a behavioral addiction often involves a treatment program that includes medication, individual and group therapy, and lifestyle changes with a strong support group. Inpatient and outpatient therapy is available; however, in-patient treatment is sometimes necessary for long-term recovery. In-patient therapy can also provide additional support and resources to treat accompanying conditions like anxiety and depression. Design for Change Recovery in Lancaster, California, offers treatment and support for behavioral addictions.

Common Types of Behavioral Addictions

  • Shopping Addiction
  • Plastic Surgery Addiction
  • Gambling Addiction
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Food Addiction
  • Risky Behavior Addiction
  • Video Gaming Addiction
  • Internet Addiction
  • Sex Addiction
  • Cutting Addiction

Options for Behavioral Rehab

There are many options for rehabilitation and treatment to combat your behavioral addiction. While treatment programs can be expensive, many are covered under insurance and Employer Assistance Programs. It is important to find the most appropriate program for you and your treatment needs, so take the time to talk with Behavioral Therapist and assess comfort and fit for your needs.

In-patient Rehab for Behavioral Addiction

In-patient rehabilitation is most appropriate for those with severe addictions, lack a strong support system, or are easily tempted by external factors. In-patient treatment programs are typically 30 to 90 days or longer, depending on the treatment plan. In-patient treatment includes structure, daily individual therapy, and support groups, and organized activities and excursions. Not only does treatment address the physical aspects of behavioral addiction, but also the mental state of those in treatment. Outpatient Treatment often follows in-patient treatment. After these programs, you will need to remain in outpatient treatment and participate in support groups for the increased likelihood of success.

Outpatient Rehab for Behavioral Addiction

For those with less severe addiction and a strong support system, outpatient treatment may be an appropriate level of care. Outpatient treatment will include individual therapy and group support. Medications may also be prescribed for anxiety and depression related to behavioral addiction.

Types of Behavioral Addiction Medications

It is common for behavioral addictions to be associated with anxiety and depression. As you seek feelings of euphoria, you engage in more of the behavior. Medication can be an important component in relieving anxiety and depression, reducing the unhealthy level of participation in the behavior.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants used to treat anxiety. Some popular SSRIs include the following:

  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

Another category of antidepressants is Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs act on the serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Some examples of SNRIs include imipramine (Tofranil) and mirtazapine (Remeron). Antihistamines like hydroxyzine and beta-blockers like propranolol are also prescribed to treat mild performance and social anxiety disorders.

SSRIs and SNRIs should be taken daily, even if feelings of anxiety are not being experienced. Abruptly stopping medications can cause severe chemical imbalances in the brain, leading to dangerous and unhealthy behaviors. Antihistamines and beta-blockers are typically taken only when needed to curb anxiety or immediately before an activity that typically causes anxiety.

Side effects of these medications are often mild and may include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness and loss of balance
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sexual dysfunction

It is common to experience mild side effects from medications until the body acclimates to the new medication. If symptoms do not subside or intensify, it is best to speak with your physician to determine if another medication is best for you or if the medication dosage should be adjusted. If you experience more serious side effects such as breathing difficulty, contact your physician immediately.

Ongoing Treatment and Relapse Prevention

It is important to first consult with a Behavioral Therapist to determine if outpatient treatment is appropriate for you. Outpatient treatment is most successful for those with mild addictions and a strong support system. When in outpatient treatment, you may maintain daily activities like work and time with family.

Outpatient treatment typically includes a mixture of medication and therapy to identify triggers and develop coping skills. A level of outpatient support is essential for transitioning from an in-patient treatment facility to maintain long-term success. Group therapy and support groups help develop a support system.

Tips to Prevent Relapse

  • Take medications as prescribed: Medications are prescribed by a treatment plan developed by a physician. Stopping medications abruptly or not according to the plan can be dangerous and lead to serious side effects.
  • Attend therapy sessions: Recognize events and situations that can be triggered and understand coping stressors. Remaining in therapy and attending group sessions can help relieve these situations and provide an extended support system to turn to when you need help.
  • Communicate with physicians: You will undoubtedly develop an illness or become injured at some point in your life, and medication may be needed to treat the condition. Because medications can become addictive or counter-interact with other medications prescribed as part of your long-term treatment, your physicians need to know everything you are taking and being treated for.
  • Maintain a strong support system and stay active: If you socialize with people who are not supportive or understand your behavioral addiction, you will be at great risk of relapse. Make friends and surround yourself with people who understand your challenges. Find hobbies and productive activities you enjoy, as boredom can lead to unhealthy thoughts and actions.

Get Help Today

Meet with a Behavioral Therapist to determine the appropriate treatment plan for you. There are many resources to help you overcome your behavioral addiction, including in-patient and outpatient treatment, prescribed medications, therapy, and support groups. Call us today to get started in overcoming your addiction and achieving long-term success.

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