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Behavioral Disorders and Addictions

Behavioral disorders, such as behavioral addiction, eating disorders, and impulse controls disorder, are characterized by impulsivity, or a failure to resist temptation, impulse or urge that may be harmful to oneself or others.

In a clinical setting, impulsivity is characterized by five behavioral stages, impulse, growing tension, pleasure on acting, relief from the urge, and guilt (which may or may not arise or display). The signs and symptoms of these behavior disorders vary based on the age of those suffering from them, the actual type of issue they are struggling with, the environment in which they live, and whether the patient is male or female.

While these impulse control disorders share many similarities with other psychiatric disorders are characterized by impulsivity, including substance abuse, alcoholism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, conduct disorder, and mood disorder, they do differ in how they present, in how they are treated, and often, in how they are covered by medical insurance.

They may differ, but they’re just as dangerous

While they do differ in many regards, impulse control and behavioral addictions can be just as serious and destructive as addictions to drugs and alcohol. Any type of compulsive behavior, if left on checked, has potential to have a destructive impact on one’s health and happiness, and can be a negative influence on an individual’s social, familial or professional life. Some behavioral diseases, such as eating disorders, can be out right life-threatening if not promptly treated.

If you or a loved one is suffering a behavioral addiction or impulse disorder, it’s important to find a rehabilitation approach or center specifically tailored to meet the unique needs or your disease. Below are just a few of the diagnosis that a REHBS agent may be able to help you with:

Treatment options vary, informed by the nature of the disorder, severity of the disease, and presence of comorbid conditions, however they generally come in the form of psychosocial and / or pharmacological based approaches.
Behavior addictions and impulse control disorders can be treated with a wide array number of pharmaceutical drugs. Like any prescription drug, these are to be administered only by recommendation of a medical doctor and with close medical supervision. The prescription drugs used in treatment vary widely by disorder type, for instance clomipramine has shown to be effective in treating both gambling addiction and trichotillomania (the compulsion to eat one’s hair). However fluvoxamine, which is effective in treating compulsive gambling, has not shown consistent results in treating trichotillomania. However, Fluoxetine has shown positive results in the treatment of pathological skin picking disorder and IED. Another drug, escitalopram, has also shown positive results in treatment of pathological gambling, but only when comorbid with anxiety symptoms. Needless to say, pharmacological treatment is complex and demands a sophisticated understanding of the biological mechanisms underpinning these disorders, which necessitates the guidance of a medical doctor and administration under close medical supervision.
Treatment strategies vary based on an individual’s specific needs. Certain individuals may require intensive, long term inpatient treatment, while other individuals may be placed in a more relaxed, outpatient therapy program.  Most treatment strategies work to find the issues that led to the disorder and address those problems at the root, allowing the patient to move on without the destructive behavior.
Most inpatient treatment programs incorporate and integrate multiple therapy approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy, group talk sessions, individual counseling sessions, and other therapeutic activities, such as art or animal therapy, exercise or meditation.
The specific approach taken in psychosocial treatment tends to vary, informed by a number of factors including the disorder type, comorbid and environmental factors.  Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been reported to positive results in the treatment of gambling addiction and sexual addiction, and it is generally held that cognitive behavioral therapies provide an effective model for intervention. CBT has shown to be effective in treating child pyromaniacs, however it tends to be less effective with adults due to lack a of co-operation. Systematic desensitization, aversion therapy and covert sensitization have proven to be successful in treatment of gambling addiction, kleptomania, and shopping addiction.

It’s important to note that aftercare is a key component to behavioral addiction and compulsive disorder treatment. Much like with drug addiction and alcoholism, a patient is not “cured” upon release from treatment and may struggle with their disorder for the remainder of their life. Therefore it is important that support systems, follow-up sessions, or support groups are accessible should they ever fall victim to a relapse and to ensure longterm health, happiness, and recovery.

Remember, you are not alone and you can get sober.

If you need help with recovering from behavioral addiction, please contact REHBS -they are discreet and their help comes at zero cost to you.

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