When is behavior an addiction?

An addiction can be defined as:

Cravings, loss of control and continuation (of the behavior or a substance) despite harmful consequences or, Self-induced changes in neuro- transmission that result in behavior problems (courtesy of H. Milkman and S. Sunderwirth)

People sometimes engage in addictive behavior when they struggle with coping with life.

Sometimes people attempt to self-medicate which leads to an addiction when they have another identifiable problem.

Addiction can be to a substance,  experiences, or a behavior.   And it all involves behavior.


  • Physical health problems are often a consequence of serious addiction.
  • Accidents are often associated with serious addictions – at work, at home, or on the highway.
  • Employment problems often accompany an addiction.
  • Family life often suffers as a result of an addiction.
  • Domestic Violence can be a consequence of serious addiction.
  • Stunted developmental growth is often a result of addictions.

People sometimes start an addictive activity thinking they are in control of it.  However, that activity often develops a life all its own and becomes out of control.

Following are links to relevant sites that we have found helpful:

For A.A. information:

For Narcotics Anonymous meetings:

Group for Moms and Children out of Domestic Violence: D V Groups

It can be scary and seem hopeless when in the powerful grips of an addiction.

There are different approaches to deal with an addiction. People stop addictive behavior and regain their lives every day.

While we do not treat addictions as a primary diagnosis, we can refer you to an appropriate agency – or supplement your therapy and treat underlying depression, panic, anxiety, trauma, loss, poor self-esteem, and other difficulties.

By far the most reliable indication of continuing addiction is the person’s apparent inability to integrate his or her goals and behaviors. (Milkman and Sunderwirth)

Addictions are often clues that something is missing in life.  Some experts say that addictive behavior starts because of a lack of healthy, satisfying relationships.