Behavioral Addiction vs Substance Addiction: What Does Addiction Look Like?

When you think of addiction, usually the first thing to come to mind is substance abuse. Alcoholism, drug dependence, and even nicotine addiction are the typical “faces” of addiction because they take a more physical form. But, addiction has another scary side.

Behavioral addiction is also common in the United States, though it may be harder to diagnose and identify. Unfortunately, its symptoms can be just as difficult to deal with and can cause as many problems as substance addiction.

Read on to find out more about the similarities and differences of behavioral addiction vs substance addiction.

Behavioral Addiction


Behavioral addiction takes various forms, with some being more common than others. The most well known behavioral addiction is gambling addiction, which can lead to financial ruin. But, in this generation, internet addiction, gaming addiction, and social media addiction all have their own grasp on the population.


Unfortunately, the symptoms of behavioral addiction are very different based on the type of addiction and the person who is suffering. But, there are some common symptoms that can be identified.

Lying about the addiction is a common one that an addict may show. Guilt regarding the activity as well as missing responsibilities may also be some signs of a behavioral addiction.

Treatment and Recovery

Because there are no hormones or chemicals involved, there are very few physical symptoms of withdrawal from behavioral addictions. Typically, treatment includes teaching the addict some strategies to take up when they feel the urge to partake in the behavior, and using group therapy to understand the consequences of the behavior.

Substance Addiction


In terms of behavioral addiction vs substance addiction, substance abuse is the figurehead of the word “addiction”, many people know the different forms of substance abuse. Alcoholism, drug dependence, and cigarettes are all sign of substance abuse. 

But, there are other substances Americans can be addicted to. Sugar is one example of a substance that can be quite addictive and is not usually thought of.


Depending on the substance, substance addiction can show difficult, usually physical symptoms. Weight loss or gain, skin lesions, and even a changing of the skin are all symptoms of substance abuse.

Other common symptoms include a loss of sleep and a loss of interest in daily activities or responsibilities. 

Treatment and Recovery

The most important aspect of treatment for substance abuse is either weaning off or completely cutting off the addict from the substance. This can be very difficult for some addicts, so using sources such as a North Carolina Addiction Center can help the addict through many of the symptoms.

Differences and Similarities of Behavioral Addiction vs Substance Addiction

Behavioral addiction vs substance addiction may seem like a big difference, but people are affected by both in similar ways. In fact, behavioral addiction is a bigger issue than most Americans give it credit for, and it seems to be growing even more.

For other health tips or advice, be sure to check out our other articles.