What are Process Addictions and How Are They Treated?

When most people think about addiction, the first thing that comes to mind is generally substance misuse. Drug and alcohol addiction, in other words. However, there is an entirely different category of addiction known as process addictions or behavioral addictions. 

This Cottonwood Tuscon article explores process addictions, their potential impact on your well-being, and how we treat process addictions here at Cottonwood Tucson. 

What is a Process Addiction Exactly?

Addiction is generally defined as a set of compulsive behaviors. Especially behaviors that a person continues despite harmful or negative consequences. Although most of us associate the term addiction with drugs or alcohol — many people develop addictive behavior patterns with something other than an intoxicating substance. Common areas where behavioral addictions occur include gambling, eating, shopping, exercise, video games, and social media.

The reality is that process addictions can be every bit as harmful to an individual’s well-being as an addiction to alcohol or drugs might be. Process addictions can lead to ruined relationships, financial distress, legal trouble, trauma, and psychological consequences. They must be taken seriously. People living with process or behavioral addictions should feel safe in discussing them and asking for the help they need and deserve. 

Here are some common types of process addictions:

  • Gambling Addiction: Uncontrollable impulses to gamble, often dangerously.
  • Shopping Addiction: Involves compulsive shopping and spending, often beyond one’s means.
  • Overworking Addiction: Work addiction, sometimes called “workaholism” is characterized by increasing urges to work overtime and during off-hours.
  • Food Addiction: People with food addictions aren’t necessarily addicted to the food itself but to the process of eating, including binging and purging.
  • Exercise Addiction: Some people get so into exercise that it becomes a compulsion, and eventually an addiction.
  • Social Media Addiction: Many teens and young adults are seeking treatment for social media addiction and Internet addiction.
  • Gaming Addiction: Addiction to video and computer games has been a problem for decades. It has only just begun to get the attention it needs. Millions of people lose themselves in computer games and the real-life consequences can be substantial. 

Behavioral Addictions are No Joke

Raising awareness about mental health is an important part of our mission here at Cottonwood Tucson. People often joke or make light of addiction unintentionally by using the term as hyperbole. For example, talking about being “addicted” to Starbucks Coffee, Netflix, or something else you really enjoy.

While this may seem harmless, the fact is that it can serve to make people with genuine process addictions feel less visible, or reluctant to open up and ask for help. For that reason and many others, it’s important to be mindful of the language we use. Be aware of what addiction is and what it isn’t. Try not to call something an “addiction” if it really isn’t. 

How We Treat Process Addictions at Cottonwood Tucson

Process addictions, like gambling addiction, can take a tremendous toll on nearly every area of an individual’s personal life. Our process addiction treatment model is evidence-based and rooted in compassion. We understand the pain of feeling you are at the mercy of your compulsions and obsessions. 

Our holistic approach to process addiction treatment addresses mind, body, and spirit. We believe the only way complete recovery can occur is when all facets of the human experience are engaged. Mind, body, and spirit are all impacted by process addictions — therefore they must all be serviced by the work we do in recovery. 

We do this by offering a diverse set of evidence-based mental health therapies that include everything from CBT to Wim Hof Breathing and nutritional guidance

Some of the therapeutic tools we use to treat process addictions include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Trauma-informed therapy
  • Group and individual therapy
  • Somatic Experiencing Therapy
  • HeartMath (Heart Rhythm coherence feedback)
  • EMDR Therapy

Compassionate Treatment for Process Addictions

The first thing you should know is that being addicted to gambling, gaming, exercise or anything else does not make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you lack willpower or discipline either. All it means is that you need outside help to understand, manage, and overcome your disease. 

Our goal is to help you or your loved one understand their illness and to instill in them the tools they need to overcome it and live the life they were meant to have. It isn’t easy, but we are very good at what we do, and with equal measures of openmindedness and willingness — we can help virtually anyone reclaim control over their lives. 

Cottonwood Tucson’s nationally recognized process addiction treatment program offers the specialized care that managing and overcoming compulsive behaviors requires. 

Find freedom from obsession on our 35-acre campus in Arizona’s beautiful Sonoran Desert.Call us anytime at  (888) 727-0441.  

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