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Any habit or activity that takes over a person’s life and begins to affect the individual’s health and emotional state is considered an addictive behavior. A person starts developing an addiction when he or she becomes excessively preoccupied. Studies have suggested parallels between addiction to chemicals and addiction to work, obsessive gambling, sex, running, eating disorders and shopping. These behavioral activities may increase endorphins in the brain, which make the person feel pleasure. Professionals express their concern for people struggling with substance abuse. They say if a person persists in seeking these activities or drugs to feel euphoric, he or she may find themselves stuck in an addictive cycle. This may lead to physical addiction in the brain. These pleasure-seeking behaviors can persist in spite of the negative social and health risks associated with them.
Physical dependence on drugs or alcohol can also have a psychological element. For instance, a person struggling with alcohol abuse, who quits alcohol for years, may still long for a drink. This is the reason why researchers feel both physical and psychological cravings need to be analyzed. They advocate these behaviors are all related and should not be separated into single diseases, groups or problems.
Some people consider addictive behaviors “diseases”, but others think they are just behaviors learned or caused by genetics. Researchers argue that in contrast to most common diseases, there is not an exact method of treatment, but rather a combination of treatment approaches to deal with addictive behaviors.