Process Addictions

Behavioral Health & Addiction

About Process Addictions

Process addictions are often seen in people who are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, but can occur independently as well. These addictions can cause great harm, but Cottonwood Tucson’s treatment team can help sufferers learn to lead healthy, fulfilling lives free from destructive coping mechanisms.

Types of Process Addictions

Process addictions can take a number of forms, but the most common are:

  • Gambling addiction: Someone with a gambling addiction may find themselves betting more often than they intended, betting beyond their financial means, being preoccupied with gambling, and feeling irritable or aggressive when they are unable to place bets. Individuals with a gambling addiction sometimes turn to theft to fuel their compulsion.
  • Sex addiction: Someone suffering from a sex addiction continues to engage in dangerous or destructive sexual activities because he or she feels powerless to control sexual urges, behaviors, or thoughts. This can include having unprotected casual sex as well as seeking out the services of sex workers.
  • Shopping addiction: Also sometimes called compulsive shopping or a compulsive buying disorder, a shopping addiction is characterized by making unnecessary and/or unwanted purchases beyond one’s financial means. Purchases may crowd limited storage space within the home or become a source of tension in relationships with loved ones.
  • Food addiction: We need food to live, but someone who struggles with compulsive eating behaviors often eats to excess and craves foods high in fat, sugar, and/or salt. They report experiencing a “high” while eating the foods they crave, much like the euphoria caused by drugs and alcohol. Someone with a food addiction may be overweight or obese, but it’s important to note that individuals with a normal BMI can still suffer from this disorder.
  • Gaming addiction: Playing video games is typically a harmless hobby, but a compulsive gamer is someone who plays to the extent that it negatively affects responsibilities at work or relationships with friends and family. Video games may also contribute to a lack of exercise, nutrition, and sleep—resulting in severe consequences to one’s physical health.

Causes of Process Addictions

Process addictions can have a number of causes, but often begin as a response to trauma. For example, a childhood sexual assault survivor may turn to food for love and comfort. The victim of aggressive bullying may use video games to escape into a world where he is in total control. Financial difficulties, divorce, the death of a loved one, or the stress of living with a chronic illness may also trigger process addiction.

Although personality traits aren’t definitively correlated with addiction, there is some research that suggests people who are described as impulsive, sensation seeking, socially isolated, and non-conforming are more likely to turn to addictions to cope with unpleasant emotions.

Treating Process Addictions

Since addictions to processes and addictions to drugs and alcohol both start with chemical changes inside the brain, treatment for both conditions is quite similar. Group and individual therapy will focus on helping you to control compulsive thoughts while developing healthy coping mechanisms so you no longer feel the need to rely on a process addiction. Contact us today to learn more about our personalized inpatient holistic behavioral health treatment options.

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