What is Process Addiction?

Addiction comes in many forms, some of which don’t necessarily involve substance dependence. For some, addiction could take the form of compulsive behavior over which the individual has no control. 

Take process addiction, for example. Also known as behavioral addiction, this is a condition characterized by the compulsion to engage in harmful activities or behavior. People with process addiction are often powerless to stop their actions, even if it affects their ability to preserve their physical or mental well-being. 

Often, it is the compulsiveness of the behavior that determines its addictive nature. Most such actions or behaviors have a significantly negative effect on a person’s life. And while the behavior may initially bring about satisfaction or a high, it often leads to remorse or guilt later on. Some may even be overwhelmed by the results of their continued behavior. 

Common process addictions

Process addiction may be focused on any of several actions or behaviors, including: 

  • Sex 
  • Love or relationships 
  • Shopping 
  • Gambling 
  • Video games 
  • Food 
  • Working out 

In some cases, the addiction’s focus may not even be necessarily harmful or damaging in itself. Working out or exercising is recognized for its many positive effects, for example. And activities such as eating, shopping, and even gambling, can be performed as part of a regular routine without adversely affecting our lives.

But there is a point when the behavior becomes detrimental to the person’s mental or physical health and relationships. 

When normal behavior becomes harmful 

A particular behavior can be said to be an addiction when it begins to take on the following characteristics: 

  • It causes issues with mental or physical health.
  • It affects personal relationships. 
  • It affects a person’s ability to work or causes workplace disruptions. 
  • It causes long term or farther-reaching consequences such as loss of a job or a home or bankruptcy. 
  • The person with the addiction is unable to cease the behavior despite the consequences.

When is it time to seek treatment for process addiction?

If you or someone you know is struggling with process addiction, active treatment could be a practical course of action. Many treatment programs focus on helping the individual manage their behavior and address the associated issues.  

However, it can be challenging to identify whether or not the behavior in question has become problematic. For many people struggling with process addiction, the path from ‘normal’ behavior to addiction can be short and slippery. 

Close relationships may also prevent people struggling with process addiction from getting the treatment they need. Often, the relationship’s closeness prevents friends and family members from acknowledging or recognizing destructive behavior in their loved ones. 

What treatments are available to people with process addiction?

Although process addiction is a behavioral problem rather than a substance dependence, treatment often consists of the same programs. Most programs that are intended for the treatment of process addiction provide individuals with the following: 

Detox. This therapy helps people deal with the withdrawal symptoms that often occur when coming off process addiction. These may include insomnia, agitation, anger, panic, and even headaches. 

By going through detox, people struggling with process addiction can work their way through the transitional period more effectively and achieve the necessary stability and capacity to begin healing and getting on with their lives.

Diagnosis and evaluation. These are just as integral to the process addiction treatment as they are to substance dependence treatment. Proper diagnosis and assessment can identify emotional and mental disorders that trigger compulsiveness and make it difficult for the individual to abstain from negative behavior. 

Treatment plan. This is where the process of treatment actually begins. During this stage, the person with process addiction will undergo one or more therapies based on the diagnosis and evaluation. These therapies will also consider the comfort, well-being, and personal recovery goals of the individual. 

Family support. Treatment for process addiction requires the involvement of the family for support. It may also be necessary for family members to undergo a healing process through support groups that are specifically intended for families of people with process addiction. 

The road to recovery can be long and difficult. But with proper treatment and family support, people with process addiction may find their way out of their troubled paths.