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What are Process Addictions?

Feb 21, 2023

Process addictions are often misunderstood. Many people think of them as “lesser” addictions, but they can be just as damaging and can worsen or lead to substance use disorders. So here’s what you need to know about process addictions and keeping them from harming your personal life and career.

Process addiction is characterized by being addicted to a certain behavior or action. Some examples of process addictions include work, gambling, shopping, and internet use. If you or someone you know seems unable to stop engaging in certain behaviors, and it’s negatively impacting their life, they may be struggling with a process addiction. There are treatment options available that can help people overcome their addiction and live healthy, fulfilling life. Headwaters is here to provide care and support through every step of recovery from process addictions.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-270-1753.

Definition of a Process Addiction

A process addiction can be defined as a behavioral addiction that is characterized by an individual’s preoccupation with a certain activity, often compulsive, that results in negative consequences. This could involve anything from video gaming, shopping, gambling, texting, surfing the web, or overeating. As with any addiction, those suffering from a process addiction may struggle to refrain from their urge even when they know it will cause them harm. People with process addictions often require the help of therapy and other forms of professional treatment to learn how to manage behavioral patterns properly.

Examples of Process Addictions

Examples of these process or behavioral addictions include internet addiction, gambling addiction, shopping addiction, and pornography addiction. Internet addiction is most commonly seen in people browsing the web for hours each day doing nothing constructive, while pornography addiction is seen far too often in people compulsively watching sexual content, leading to problematic behavior. A shopping addiction can compel someone to purchase items, even when they’re not needed or even wanted. Identifying any potential signs of process addictions is important so individuals can get the help they need.

Statistics on Process Addictions

● As many as 10 million Americans have a gambling addiction.
● Shopping addiction affects roughly 6 percent of people in the United States.
● An estimated 25 percent of internet searches and 35 percent of downloads are related to pornography.
● Between 5-10% of people live with a work addiction.
● 3 percent of people who routinely go to a gym are affected by an addiction to exercise.

How To Know If You Or Someone You Know Has a Process Addiction

It can be challenging to determine if you or your loved one has a process addiction. Signs of dependency on participating in an activity can include: feeling tense or irritable when unable to participate, negative changes in behavior due to lack of participation, or avoiding family members and activities to maintain involvement in the activity.

8 Signs & Symptoms of Process Addiction

1. They spend excessive time doing the behavior or thinking about it.
2. They struggle to control or stop the behavior.
3. They continue the behavior after experiencing negative consequences related to it.
4. They neglect their responsibilities to do the behavior.
5. They use the behavior to cope with emotions.
6. When confronted about the behavior, they downplay the seriousness of the problem.
7. They develop a tolerance to the behavior and need to intensify it to reach the same level of pleasure.
8. They become emotionally withdrawn outside of the behavior or show signs of mental health concerns, including anxiety, irritability, depression, or substance use disorders.

Process Addictions Co-Occurring with Substance Use Disorders

An attempt to manage a process addiction can lead to harmful substance use. Drinking may be a way to cope with being unable to do a compulsive behavior when you’re around other people. For example, you may turn to drugs or alcohol to manage the stress of hiding certain behaviors from loved ones. Negative consequences from process addictions, such as public disgrace or job loss, can worsen an existing substance use problem. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorders and process addictions Headwaters can help.

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Bedroom at HeadwatersHanley Foundation’s Headwaters is a non-profit addiction treatment program for executives, public figures, other affluent individuals, and their loved ones. Headwaters offers leading-edge, personalized clinical care for mental health and substance use disorders, and our professional and compassionate staff can help you achieve holistic wellness. To start your healing journey, call 561-270-1753 today.

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