Todays info is based on a great question posted by a friend. They asked, if there was a difference between chemical addiction and behavior not related to drug abuse ... like sex or gambling etc.
The answer as I currently understand it ~ is actually yes and no, and is overall not an easy one to explain ha ha.
The newer definition of addiction can actually help explain this one, as part of that new understanding was due in part to the research done on people addicted to non-chemical activities, like gambling, sex, hording, and the like. The new definition is simply stated as ~ "The hijacking of your dopamine reward system." Therefor it makes more sense in understanding 'why' people keep doing things, that are not 'drug' related ... and why non-disease type actions can still be seen in 'normal' activities.
There's a lot of current research showing that the same reward pathways are being used in almost all "addiction" driven activities. Therefore, yes the base treatment models of drug use and addictive gambling could be used almost interchangeably. And yes both chemical and non chemical addictions are normally used as forms of coping mechanisms.
However, outside the same reward path being used in both cases, the underling driving forces can be totally different. Meaning, that the use of gambling, or sex is providing a 'feel good' effect for the person, like using a drug to 'feel better' but the 'why' or issue driving that why could be very different for each individual. Therefore the specific methods within the treatment paths could also vary greatly.
*Note ~ Sadly, this is not the main stream understanding of addiction, as all "addicts" normally get the same treatment at the same centers ... and its normally not very effective, if at all. With most people released from a 28 day 'rehab' relapsing within the first 2-24 hours. Of course this does keep the courts, police, and jails with a steady flow of income ... and a nice oiled revolving door.
Please also keep in mind that most people with addictions have several co-occurring disorders that MUST be treated at the same time, as each one of those plays a vital role in how the main addiction plays out. PTSD, anxiety (panic attacks), and depression (suicidal), are just a few of the common ones and the majority of people have multiple ones!
One main difference between chemical and non would be the extreme withdrawals that a chemical addiction possesses as opposed to the non-chemical type. Although, even the non-chemical addictions will have some degree ~ depression, anxiety, or the like. It will be a far cry from the 10-30 days of sever flu/food poisoning symptoms of opiate withdrawals.
I hope this sheds some light on this question! I thank you for asking ... please feel free to ask questions directly or send them via the email link on the left. Have a wonderful day everyone!
Who am I?
I have been called "Sirthinkalot" and "The mender of souls." I am an addiction specialist and a full-time psychology student on the way to Dr. Davis in clinical psychology. I am currently crusading for the expedited paradigm shift in addiction recovery!