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What Is a Secondary Issue In Substance Addiction Treatment?

Addiction isn’t limited to alcohol or drugs. Some habits are not connected to mind-altering chemicals but can cause as much damage as a substance use disorder (SUD). Therefore, a secondary issue can present as you work on your well-being in substance addiction treatment.

What Is a Secondary Addiction?

Your primary addiction is your substance of choice. A secondary addiction or process addiction can include another substance or a behavior.

When you begin substance addiction treatment, you know the substances that created the need for treatment. However, your SUD can have underlying causes from mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. Throughout your stay at the treatment center, you will find healthy ways to cope with your substance use and mental health disorders. However, mental health disorders aren’t the only issues you can face while in treatment. You may discover you have a secondary addiction.

Secondary addictions can occur despite the absence of chemicals that affect your mind and body. Addictions that aren’t alcohol or drug-based are called process addictions. Process addictions are behavioral addictions. For example, sex, shopping, or gambling addiction are classified as behavioral addictions.

How Do I Know if I Have a Behavioral Addiction?

Substance addiction and behavioral addiction disrupt your life. Behavioral addiction can occur after you complete your substance addiction treatment program.

During the early stages of recovery, you can struggle with not having substances to help you through specific situations. This struggle isn’t your fault. The treatment you received started your mind and body’s healing process. During the early stages of recovery, you’re still healing. The part of your brain affected by substances was your “reward system.” As a result, even after getting sober, you may still search for something to give you a sense of happiness.

Behavioral addiction can seem harmless at first. For example, playing poker with your friends is an opportunity to socialize and have fun. For some, a poker game every once in a while is okay. However, some will seek to play repeatedly because the reward section of their brain is triggered when they play. Playing poker reinforces the feel-good feeling like a substance did.

Types of Behavioral Addiction

A few examples of behavioral addictions include:

  • Sex addiction: Sex has a built-in reward system for your brain. When you repeatedly engage in risky or harmful sex, you can have a sex addiction.
  • Gambling addiction: A person with a gambling addiction triggers the reward section of their brain by playing or winning a game. For example, if you go into debt and still cannot stop gambling, you may have a gambling addiction.
  • Internet addiction: Your browsing, posting, or scrolling habits can become an addiction. When you rely on social media for approval, winning games or constant entertainment, the rewards of those actions can become addictive.

Secondary additions are common. Whether a person is addicted to two or more substances or has a behavioral addiction, the urge to reward the feel-good part of your brain is overwhelming. Because many will develop a behavioral addiction during early recovery, remaining active in aftercare groups is essential. However, harmless habits can go unnoticed until they disrupt a person’s life. The Guest House offers treatment for substance addiction, mental health issues, and behavioral addiction. Our serene estate provides the comfort needed as you discover healthy ways to fulfill your brain’s need for reward. To learn more, call (855) 483-7800.