Compulsive behaviours can be defined as behaviours which a person engages in because they feel they have to rather than because they want to behave that way. They are trapped in a pattern of repetitive and senseless thinking that becomes as destructive in time as drug or alcohol addiction even in some case leading to premature death. This definition clearly shows the parallels between compulsive behaviours and chemical addictions and why treatment for them follows a similar line. They are also referred to as Process Addictions – an addiction to an activity or process.
There are many in society that suffer from one form of compulsive behaviour or another: compulsive shopping; eating; gambling and sex which are similar in many ways to the chemical addictions. There are others with a clearly defined obsessive compulsive disorder which can be every bit as destructive to the individual’s lives as addictions but do not lend themselves to treatment in the same way. At Nova Vida we use the term behavioural addictions for those compulsive behaviours we treat, in particular some eating disorders, sex and gambling, which respond well to our treatment model.
In many respects, behavioural addictions are no different from addiction to alcohol and drugs and we have found that these patients fit in well with the programme we offer. Differences are recognised, similarities explored and appropriate individual work and assignments form part of the individual’s programme. Some of our patients have a chemical addiction as well as a compulsive behaviour and treatment in such cases runs side-by-side.
Addiction to gambling, sex and work are quite common behavioural addictions and if left un-checked can lead to consequences every bit as serious as addictions to chemicals. Loss of work, relationships, families and even life go hand in hand with a dependency on gambling, sex or work as a means of coping with emotions. We know that our patients have a ‘drug of choice’. For some it is alcohol, for others cocaine, others choose betting on the horses, visiting casinos, inappropriate use of adult sites on the Internet or working 70 hours a week to avoid looking at themselves.
Nova Vida Recovery Centre is an abstinence based treatment facility but we recognise that abstinence doesn’t always apply to compulsive behaviours. We work with you to help define the way forward with your compulsive behaviour. It may be abstinence as would be the case with gambling but it would be a balanced pattern of eating in the case of a binge type eating disorder. Each case is assessed individually and as with all aspects of our treatment if we feel we don’t have the experience to help you we will recommend somewhere that can.
At Nova Vida we help patients find appropriate ways of dealing with life on life’s terms avoiding the use of inappropriate behaviours in order to escape form what is distressing them.
However we do not treat all compulsive behaviours nor Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Careful and thorough assessment by the Clinical Team and our psychiatrist will determine what we can treat and what we can’t and when we can’t, we will identify who can. We will not admit you to our programme nor keep you on it unless we have the skills to offer you effective treatment – that’s our 34th Street Policy.
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