Process addictions are the psychological addiction to a behavior or activity. There are a number of common process addictions but almost any behavior/activity that is routinely engaged in for its pleasurable effects can become a process addiction. Process addictions do not always involve the use of or the addiction to drugs, alcohol or other substances. Process addictions however follow the same patterns as drug and alcohol addictions and will eventually have major consequences on various aspects of a person’s life. Process addictions affect health, financial stability, relationships, career and other important areas of life. Process addictions, like drug or alcohol addictions, can also lead to death.
Common Types of Process Addiction
Symptoms of Process Addictions
- Experiencing overly intense feelings of well-being or self-worth when engaging in the activity or behavior.
- Assigning importance to the behavior that is out of proportion to reality.
- Engaging in the behavior repeatedly despite negative consequences.
- Perceiving or actually experiencing a loss of control over the behavior.
- Using defense mechanisms to justify or hide the behavior.
- Developing the need to engage in the behavior more and more to achieve the same effects.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the activity is stopped.
Causes and Treatment of Process Addictions
Process addictions, as with other types of addiction, have many causes and contributing factors. No single factor or life experience is the root cause. Sometimes process addictions develop when a person receives treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, for example, the development of a shopping addiction after successful treatment of an alcohol addiction.
Process addiction is treatable. Professional treatment by experts trained in specific types of process addictions is necessary. Addiction of any kind is complex so many different treatment therapies should be used to treat these addictions. After treatment, ongoing lifelong support is highly recommended. Many support groups, including 12-step based fellowships, are available to people recovering from process addictions.