Process addiction (Or Process Addictions) refers to the obsession to take part in certain activities or behaviors, such as gambling, the Internet, sex, and eating. Any non-chemical use behavior that stimulates a person and becomes an obligation, or interferes with an individuals life can be considered a process addiction. According to the Textbook of Anxiety Disorders, process addiction consists of a compulsion to repeatedly engage in an action until it causes negative consequences to the person’s physical, mental, social, and/or financial well-being. See a list of common process addictions here.
Process addiction differs from chemical addiction in that the user does not chemically put toxins into their body. However, the brain is still affected and the person becomes just as controlled by the process as a drug addict or alcoholic is controlled by their substance.
A process addiction does not differ from a behavioral addiction which is defined as: a form of addiction that involves a compulsion to repeatedly perform a non-drug related action to stimulate an individual. A behavioral addiction becomes a problem when the action negatively interferes with an individuals job, relationships, financial situation or other major life area.
Causes of Process Addictions
Process addictions develop for a number of reasons. The most common cause of process addiction is some sort of emotional trauma or social inadequacy. Someone who has been sexually, physically, or emotionally abused in their past will be more likely to develop a process addiction. A person who has experienced a trauma or the loss of a close loved one is also at increased risk. Those with low self esteem or poor social skills, or those with perfectionist tendencies may also develop process addictions. In all of these cases, the person may use the activity to numb pain, to heighten their emotions, to punish themselves, to escape reality, or simply to feel the rush of the activity.
Research has shown that the brains of individuals with process addictions become changed, much like the brains of those with substance addictions. The rush of euphoria that people feel from their activity can impact neurotransmitters in the brain, effectively causing the dopamine reward center of the brain to depend on outside sources to function.
In order to overcome a process addiction, treatment is often necessary. An individual will first need to separate themselves from their activity. Then, through behavioral modifications, cognitive therapy, and counseling, the person must address the underlying causes of their addiction. A rehab program will help the person develop the tools necessary to manage the stress and pain in their lives without turning back to their addiction.
Recovering from a process addiction is possible, and many people have gone on to live happy, healthy lives with the help of a professional treatment program.
Gambling Addiction Treatment
Gambling addiction affects more than 3 million Americans today. The problem has increased in recent years with the establishment of more and more casinos, the presence of online gaming, and the accessibility of other gambling opportunities.
Gambling addiction can quickly take over an individual’s life, causing them to spend days or entire weeks at their activity. The person will quickly experience loss of productivity, loss of job, financial problems, and relationship problems.
Treatment for gambling addiction involves first of all removing access to the activity. The person will need to participate in therapy in order to retrain their brain to function without the thrill of gambling. Then they will need to replace that activity with positive behaviors in order to prevent relapse.
Internet Addiction Treatment
Internet addiction is a fast growing problem in our technology age. With the development of smart phones, personal computers, online gaming, and social media sites, this addiction is quickly taking hold of millions of people throughout the world.
An addiction to the Internet can lead the person to neglect everything else in their life, and to spend all day and night on their computer. They will fail to maintain their normal responsibilities, including family, school, or work, because of their constant use of the Internet.
Internet addiction can be managed primarily by restricting the person’s Internet access. The compulsion will still be there, though, so the person must learn through behavioral therapy how to manage their triggers, deal with the everyday stress in their life, and develop positive relationships again with the people around them.
Sex/Love Addiction Treatment
Sex addiction is a forbidden addiction that many people keep secret for years and years. Over time, the addiction can progress, and the person can get involved with some very harmful activities.
Sex addiction sometimes involves pornography, masturbation, or compulsive sexual thoughts. Other times it progresses into sexual acts with others, using escort services, or even child molestation or rape. An individual with a sex addiction will be at risk for these devastating activities that lead to the harm of others.
Sex addiction must be treated by professionals in order for complete recovery. This addiction can be difficult to overcome, and requires the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, group and individual therapy, and most likely long term participation in support groups.
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Binge eating is a disorder that is often grouped with other eating disorders, but the reasons behind binge eating is often different. Rather than trying to maintain a perfect weight, an individual with a binge eating disorder is often plagued with past experiences, trauma, or negative feelings.
Binge eating often causes the sufferer to become overweight and to suffer from physical effects associated with obesity. They will also be at risk for depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental and emotional conditions because of the addiction.
Treatment for binge eating disorder is the most effective when it helps the person address the causes of their addiction, and helps them learn how to manage their compulsion to eat. Nutritional therapy is often required, and the person will need to replace their unhealthy eating with positive behaviors.
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