Compulsive behavioral health problems such as obsessive shopping, gambling, and sexual addiction can be hard to stop without professional therapy and intervention. Conditions like these that often co-occur with substance use disorders are known as process addictions.
Why Process Addictions Are Hard to Resist
Patients who believe their wellbeing and happiness depend on certain activities and outcomes often find that their personal relationships suffer tremendously. As they build up a tolerance to the risk — for example, with the process addiction of gambling — they may decide to bet more money or gamble more frequently in hopes of getting a bigger potential payoff. And when patients are unable to engage in their process addiction of choice, they experience withdrawal in their minds and bodies. As with compulsive shopping, they may be unable to resist the urge to order more merchandise online despite mounting credit card debt. The adrenalin rush that occurs as packages arrive feels powerful and triggers the desire for more extreme shopping-induced pleasures that are not grounded in reality.
Mental Health Disorders
Common Process Addictions
At Headwaters at Origins, we specialize in helping patients who are high-level executives and high-net-worth individuals recover from substance use disorders as well as behavioral health issues that co-occur with the disease of addiction. Because our patients often have significant financial means, their process addictions may have gone unnoticed for longer periods or could have been unknowingly encouraged by friends, family, and co-workers.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Patients who are obsessed with physical perfection, may go to extreme means to look a certain way. They may focus on tanning their skin or have multiple plastic surgeries to change their appearance to fit a perceived physical ideal or decide to change something about the way they look to match the appearance of other people in their social circle.
When clients take exercising too seriously or to the level where they continue to run, cycle or workout despite injury and exhaustion, they may have an addiction to exercise. Rather than rest, these patients push their bodies to extremes. They tell themselves if they don’t train or compete in certain athletic events, they are a failure.
With the executive level patients we see at Headwaters, there is a strong tendency to sacrifice personal health for success in the workplace. When a patient’s desire for approval and recognition gets out of control, their mental, emotional, physical, and relational health with loved ones can suffer. Workaholism is a term that is sometimes encouraged by society; patients with this process addiction may use it to justify their unhealthy and compulsive drive for recognition, approval, and success.
When patients risk something of value like their retirement savings or assets in the hopes of gaining something they perceive as having an even greater value, like the thrill of cashing gambling chips at the casino or a winning ticket at the racetrack, their gambling habit may be something they are unable to stop without help.
Shopping and spending money regardless of having great or small financial means can be a strong compulsion, especially if what you purchase is in great excess of what you actually need for your daily existence.
Love and Relationship Addiction
Patients who jump from one love relationship to another or have multiple romantic relationships at once that are destructive to everyone involved, including themselves, may have a relationship addiction. These compulsive and destructive patterns have nothing to do with actual love and are harmful to all.
Continually checking your cellphone or other smart devices may be a sign that you are unable to pull yourself away from it. If loved ones point out that you are ignoring them in lieu of scrolling the internet, or if you feel anxiety when your phone is not in your hand, you may have a smartphone addiction. Some patients even describe feeling phantom vibrations.
Social Media Addiction
Compulsively posting photos on social media channels rather than engaging with loved ones and checking for how many likes and reactions you get to your posts can be signs of social media addictions. Continually scrolling through other people’s profiles and comparing your life to their carefully curated ideals can also become an obsession.
Cyber Addiction and Video/Internet Gaming Addiction
Playing video games online or alone for hours at a time rather than engaging socially with real people indicates a compulsive desire. If loved ones notice your personal hygiene, work, and school performance, and sleep patterns are suffering, you may need help
When patients experience an inability to feel emotions, they may turn to actions of physical self-harm like cutting their skin. These impulses can turn compulsive when physical pain is used to numb out emotional pain.
Compulsive sexual thoughts and activities engaged in either alone or with others despite physical harm or relational consequences can be particularly hard to stop without professional help.
Treating Process Addictions
Process addictions can be difficult to treat, especially when substance use is also a factor. That said, we know recovery is possible.
At Headwaters, our methods for recovery include:
- Psychological testing and support for other underlying co-occurring mental health disorders that contribute to unhealthy behaviors
- Individual psychotherapy aimed at addressing the triggers associated with process addictions
- Advanced trauma therapies to help you tackle the core issues related to your addiction
- Psychopharmacology and medication management through our integrated Medical Department
- Group counseling to help you eliminate the shame associated with process addictions and help you unveil solutions in a peer-based atmosphere
- Education on support groups for process addiction, including 12-Step programming and fellowships
When You Are Ready to Recover, We Are Here to Help
Headwaters recognizes that process addictions and substance use disorders are interrelated. But psychological, physical, and spiritual recovery is possible.
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West Palm Beach, FL 33407
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