Process Addictions

A process addiction is a compulsive behavior, such as compulsive gambling, sexual addiction, eating disorders and spending addictions. This term is often used as a blanket for any behavioral addiction which does not involve an addictive chemical.

When a habit or hobby becomes an addiction. A process addiction is characterized by:

  • An obsessive need to be involved with the activity, or planning the activity.
  • Neglecting responsibilities in favor of doing the behavior.
  • Your behavior is interfering with your relationships, such as infidelity, neglect of children or change in friendships.
  • Legal trouble, such as illegal gambling, prostitution, or breaking laws in order to engage in your behavior of choice.
  • You feel as if you do not have control over whether or not you participate in the activity.
  • Your life revolves around your behavioral addiction.

Process addictions are an often overlooked addiction. They are often overshadowed by substance addictions. This is unfortunate as the suffering, loss of life and family, and debilitating consequences are no less. Process addictions often require psychological treatment to be overcome. Even though process addiction is often coupled with drug addiction each addiction needs to be addressed in order for a full recovery to take place.

The reasons that these addictions are often overlooked lie in a combination of shame, guilt and lack of understanding. It is somewhat easy to comprehend the chemical addiction of a person who abuses substances while the strong psychological compulsions of the process addict are often ignored. It is not as simple as “just stopping” or “willpower”. There are real chemical and biological changes which occur in the brain of someone who has a process addiction.

This addictive process is complex, and has several influencing factors. An individual’s mental state, genetics, social status and past experiences all influence the addict and the timeline of their addiction.

Whatever the addiction or compulsion is, treatment is often necessary to completely abstain. Treatment methods vary but the most effective include identification and cessation of the behavior with a strong and long term commitment to keep it stopped. This long term commitment is the stumbling block. It can be difficult and include long term therapies, medications and other techniques.

Treatment models and success vary but the most important step is to have a sincere desire to stop the behavior. Nothing can be completed without the crucial first step.

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