The most frequently asked question about hoarding addiction is whether hoarding is actually an addiction or merely a compulsive behavior. Addiction is defined as the compulsive use of a substance, and it would seem that hoarding fits within that definition. There are numerous studies conducted on this subject each year and there is still some debate about the issue.
Compulsive behaviors, such as hoarding, are normally done to prevent or reduce distress in a person’s life. This is contrary to popular belief that these behaviors are repeated due to a physiological effect of a particular substance. However, an uncontrollable dependence on a chemical substance is what is known as “addiction”, is repeated due to the effects it has on the user. These are two distinct differences when considering how an addiction to hoarding and other addictions may differ.
The Different Aspects of Addictive Behaviors
First, we will examine the distinction psychologically. In addiction, most addicts seek the pleasure that a substance generates. In compulsive behaviors, the person engages in hoarding to eliminate their discomfort. Excitement is initially experienced by getting new items, but the behavior is maintained due to decreasing psychological pain.
The second difference is the neuro-biological distinction. How hoarding and other drug or alcohol addictions affect the brain and its functions are also different. The structural and molecular makeup of the brain changes in individuals who engage in substance or behavioral addiction over long periods of time.
Determining Effective Treatment for Hoarders
The existence of tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms do not seem to occur in the brain of hoarders, which is another difference between addiction and compulsive behavior, whereas, in a drug addict, these types of processes in the brain are affected.
The most important reason for providing a complete understanding of the difference between addiction and compulsive behaviors such as hoarding is important for determining effective treatment for hoarders.
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