People with a behavioural addiction engage in activity which can become compulsive and unhealthy obsessions, despite damaging consequences.

At Castle Craig we treat behavioural addictions such as:

Other behaviours can also become compulsive such as eating, shopping, browsing the internet and porn and sex. We address these compulsive behaviours as part of our treatment programme for alcohol or drugs.

Behavioural addictions we treat

Gambling Addiction

When gambling becomes compulsive it can completely take over a person’s life, leading to serious financial difficulties, problems at work or in studies, dysfunctional family relationships and sometimes suicide.

Gaming Addiction

Gaming can become compulsive due to the reward system set up in the games – when players are rewarded by winning or beating a top score. Some multi-player games have no ending and the gamer is immersed in a new world, a new life, a new body which they play out in real time. Some people can play these games for hours on end, completely neglecting their real every-day lives and relationships.

Eating disorders

We also address eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or binge eating disorder if they accompany the addiction, however we can’t offer the specialist care and intense oversight necessary for someone who has an acute eating disorder. We treat eating disorders with a CBT-based approach and through our eating disorders group. 

Our Consultant Psychiatrists assess whether they will be able to treat patients who have an eating disorder alongside their addiction to alcohol or drugs during the assessment process. 

What is a behavioural addiction?

While alcohol and drugs are often the first things that come to mind when one hears the word ‘addiction’, for many, a behaviour, not a chemical substance, is the source of addiction. 

It is possible to develop an addiction or compulsion to a certain activity or behaviour and this is known as ‘behavioural addiction’. Behavioural addictions can resemble alcohol or drug addiction in many ways as they stimulate the dopamine pathway in the brain, resulting in short-term reward which can lead to compulsivity despite adverse consequences. Problem gambling and problem gaming are classified under the DSM-V as addictive behaviours and can be treated with a CBT approach.

Gambling and gaming are the only behavioural addictions classified under the DSM-5, the leading diagnostic manual for psychiatric professionals.

What are some examples of behavioural addiction?

Other behaviours can also become compulsive and the term ‘behavioural addiction’ is often used to describe them. Only gambling and gaming are classified as addictions by DSM-5, the leading diagnostic guide for mental health professionals. But many healthcare providers believe these activities can become compulsive and have distressing consequences on a person’s life, resulting in addictive behaviours. Some ‘behavioural addictions’ can include:

  • Gambling 
  • Gaming
  • Sex and porn
  • Eating
  • Internet use
  • Shopping
  • Plastic surgery
  • Compulsive hoarding

Many of these activities pose no problem when engaged in occasionally but when it becomes compulsive it will have a significantly negative impact on a person’s life and the person will find it hard to stop. 

Other mental health problems that can accompany behavioural addictions

People who suffer from behavioural addictions may also experience mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms. This is known as ‘dual diagnosis.’

What triggers a behavioural addiction?

People can slide into a behavioural addiction such as compulsive gambling or gaming as a way to cope with other factors in their life, such as:

  • To relieve pressure, stress, or boredom,
  • An escape from abuse or trauma,
  • An escape from abusive relationships,
  • A relief from grief or loneliness,
  • Substituting for another addiction (i.e cross-addiction)

Acknowledging a behavioural addiction

Recognising the signs of a behavioural addiction can be difficult, especially if the behaviour doesn’t seem to be having an obvious impact on your physical health and especially if others around you are doing the same thing. If the compulsive behaviour: gambling, gaming, shopping, social media, internet use, promiscuity, is damaging your life and is all you can think about and all you want to make time for, if you are facing bankruptcy and family breakdown, then you need help.

How to overcome a behavioural addiction

Assessment for a behavioural addiction

When you contact a residential rehab clinic for your behavioural addiction, you will firstly undergo an assessment. This helps your treatment provider understand your current state, determine the best course of action and begin formulating a plan to help you. You will be asked some basic questions over the phone, and receive more in-depth psychological and clinical evaluations when you arrive for treatment. 

What happens in rehab for behavioural addictions

At Castle Craig, we do not believe in a “one size fits all” approach to treating behavioural addictions such as gambling or gaming. We treat each patient who comes here as a unique individual with specific needs. Our expert staff of addiction specialists will work with you to create a personalised treatment programme to help you overcome your behavioural addiction in a warm, supportive environment.

Our treatment for behavioural addictions includes:

  • CBT – Cognitive behavioural therapy targets the specific causes of the behavioural addiction and helps prevent relapse in the future,
  • Group therapy – with people who are going through the same thing as you produces results that last,
  • Life skills – Patients learn to cope more effectively and positively with difficult situations in the real world.

Making the decision to undergo residential addiction treatment at Castle Craig is the beginning of a life-long journey from admission and detox, to relapse prevention and discharge. Our patients leave us in excellent health and carrying a set of therapeutic skills and tools that last a lifetime, including:

  • Impulse control
  • Therapeutic tools to combat negative feelings
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy  (CBT) problem solving skills
  • Relapse prevention techniques
  • Holistic therapy aids for mind, body and spirit
  • New, healthy dietary and fitness habits
  • 12 Step fellowship
  • New sober friends
  • Strong support networks that last a lifetime.

Can the 12 Steps help behavioural addictions?

12 Step treatment and CBT have proven records in treating behavioural addiction. In Step 1 a patient is able to break through the denial and admit that they have a problem, and ask for help. We introduce our patients to the 12 Steps at an early stage through group therapy & reading materials. We hold a regular gambling group for those who need it.  Our Foundation treatment programme brings patients through steps 1-5 at Castle Craig and patients are able to move on to our Advanced programme after an assessment, and continue treatment for a longer period.

On top of this we provide medical treatment, psychiatric care and specialised therapies such as:

Get help for behavioural addiction

When you or someone you care about is struggling with a behavioural addiction such as gambling or gaming, your life may feel out of control. With professional guidance and support from the team at Castle Craig, it is possible to repair damaged family relationships, repair your physical and mental health and find freedom from the addictive cycle. We have over 30 years of experience helping people in your position recover.

  • We understand how behavioural addictions work,
  • We use the latest research into the neuroscience behind behavioural addictions to guide us,
  • We can help you overcome behavioural addictions through our evidence-based treatment programme. 
  • We offer a professional, structured treatment programme for behavioural addictions to help you and your loved one and enter recovery and leave the cycle of addiction behind. 

Call us now for help with your behavioural addiction

Our Help Desk team will be able to:

  • Explain the treatment options for those with behavioural addictions,
  • Letting you know what to expect in residential rehab
  • Answering any questions you might have

Call our 24 hour freephone helpline for more information on finding the treatment you need for your behavioural addiction.