Compulsive behavior is when someone engages in a behavior repetitively, and in some cases without receiving pleasure or reward. The compulsive nature of addiction is explained by someone who ruminates or “obsesses” about performing a certain behavior. Acting out on it is the compulsive side. This leads to relief or respite.
This is more understood when examining people with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). OCD manifests itself within the individual, whereby the individual will get locked in a habit loop by obsessing about a thought or action, then when he/she engages in that action, it brings temporary relief, reinforcing the behavior.
Addictions have a strong compulsive component to it. An addict will become preoccupied on the thoughts of using their drug of choice, and by acting out on these thoughts, urges or cravings, he finds relief. Because addiction has a strong compulsive side, this must be addressed and evidence-based techniques to rewire the brain out of habit loops, should be used.
Most anything can become an addiction. One study revealed that nearly one in eight individuals engage in internet addiction, in which individuals are compulsive about checking email, web pages or chat rooms. They are excessively using a computer for nonessential purposes.1 Likewise tanning can become addictive.2 Mounting evidence supports the idea that overeating, or even individuals with obesity, have a uncontrollable compulsion more than a “calorie intake deficit.”