Identifying Addictive Behavior

Men and women playing cards at a poker table.

It can be easy to overdo things from time to time. But if you find yourself repeatedly engaging in an activity that has a negative effect on your life, you might be engaging in addictive behavior. Addiction to a self-destructive behavior can be similar to alcohol or drug addiction — it can interfere with your day-to-day life and comes with severe consequences. People can sometimes stop the addictive behavior on their own, but professional help is needed in some cases.

What are common types of addictive behavior?

  • Sex addiction: Sexual activity becomes the primary focus of your life, to the detriment of your other responsibilities and relationships.
  • Workaholism: Work takes precedence over everything else in your life, including your health and loved ones.
  • Shopaholism: Compulsively buying things you don't need — or even necessarily want — is a way to achieve a temporary "high," despite the financial pressures.
  • Compulsive gambling: You compulsively place bets, regardless of the financial consequences.
  • Compulsive eating: Food becomes a way to cope with emotions and feelings, and you're unable to control what and how much you eat.
  • Codependency: You're unwilling or unable to leave an unhealthy relationship that's dangerous to your well-being.
  • Internet addiction: You spend so much time online that you neglect other responsibilities or real-life interactions.

What are warning signs of addictive behavior?


support in a crisis when you feel alone.

  • You can't think about anything else.
  • You lie or become defensive when others question your behavior.
  • You feel anxious or depressed when you stop the behavior.
  • You become isolated or withdrawn from family relationships and friendships.
  • You need to engage in the addictive behavior more often and at higher stakes.

What are some resources for help?

Depending on the type of addiction, there are different options for getting the help you need.

  • Counseling. Ask your health care practitioner for a referral to a therapist or counselor in your area.
  • Military resources. Get confidential, non-medical counseling support through Military OneSource or military and family life counselors at your installation — at no cost to you.
  • Chaplains. Talk with your unit chaplain about the issue. You can find contact information locally through your Family Readiness Officer.

No matter what you're going through, find peace of mind in knowing that help is available whenever you need it.


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