• Quote of the Day
    "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
    Nelson Mandela, posted by Daniel

healthbound

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What are the differences between addicting behaviors and compulsive behaviors? Addiction is more about a substance or physical dependency?
 

Retired

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Re: addicted vs compulsive?

Another term used in this context is "habituation" which according to my understanding is used in connection with medications that are not technically addictive, but result in a person being unable to function without their use.

As I understand it, addiction results in a physical dependence because some metabolic function is altered to require that substance. When that substance is absent, the body will react with withdrawl symptoms.

Habituation is more a psychological dependence with substances that are not shown to alter any metabolic function, but nevertheless the person is unable to function without it.

Here is how Medicine-Net defines Addicition:

A chronic relapsing condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain. Addiction is the same irrespective of whether the drug is alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or nicotine. Every addictive substance induces pleasant states or relieves distress. Continued use of the addictive substance induces adaptive changes in the brain that lead to tolerance, physical dependence, uncontrollable craving and, all too often, relapse. Dependence is at such a point that stopping is very difficult and causes severe physical and mental reactions from withdrawal. The risk of addiction is in part inherited. Genetic factors, for example, account for about 40% of the risk of alcoholism. The genetic factors predisposing to addiction are not yet fully understood.

Mayo Clinic Defines Compulsions this way:

These are repetitive behaviors that you're driven to perform regularly to combat your obsessions, even though to you ? and to others ? they may seem irrational.
 

Daniel

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Re: addicted vs compulsive?

To add to what TSOW said, here is a quote from Dr. Baxter:

David Baxter said:
It's a fine line sometimes. With "addiction", there is usually a development of tolerance (needing more and more over time) and significant withdrawal when the object/substance isn't available.

Addiction vs Compulsion
 

healthbound

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Re: addicted vs compulsive?

Continued use of the addictive substance induces adaptive changes in the brain that lead to tolerance, physical dependence, uncontrollable craving and, all too often, relapse. Dependence is at such a point that stopping is very difficult and causes severe physical and mental reactions from withdrawal.

Hm, I didn't know that tolerance was an indication of an adaptive change in the brain.

I wonder what exactly is meant by "physical dependence". For example, if one does cocaine they will experience a physical withdrawal whether it is their first or fiftieth time doing it. Does that mean that one is physically dependent on that particular drug as soon as they do it?
 

Persephone

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Re: addicted vs compulsive?

And what abous sex addiction ?Or food addiction? They are called addictions, all right, but the object of the addiction is not a chemical that changes brain, is it?But they are not merely compulsive behaviors. There is tolerance and there is withdrawal.
 

David Baxter

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Some of it is a matter of semantics, I guess. One could call normal hunger or thirst an "addiction" I suppose: You certainly feel a kind of "withdrawal" if you don't eat or drink anything and after a while the craving starts to diminish.

I'm making the differentiation more from the viewpoint of treating the condition or issue. To use your example of "sexual addiction", I have seen a few genuine sex addicts in my career but the majority are not addicts in any sense that makes sense - rather, they tend to be individuals who are engaging in a compulsive behavior as a way of avoiding some other issue in their lives. That's the reason I stress that to successfully resolve the problem one must identify and address not only what the person is going TO when s/he engages in the behavior but what s/he is going FROM (i.e., what is s/he avoiding?).
 

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