Process Addiction

As in other addictions, in process addiction the core issue is a person's loss of control that usually cannot be reversed by willpower alone and is not a moral failing. This loss of control is coupled with cravings and continued use or behaviour despite negative consequences.

Process addictions are behavioural addictions. Most people are able to enjoy gambling, sex, shopping, internet use and eating without ever developing an addiction to these behaviours. However, behavioural addictions are more common than the public currently believes and can be extremely destructive to an individual's life. A process addiction can occur when someone loses control over any process to the point where it causes problems in daily life. Process addictions often go undetected because they lack the physical attributes (intoxication or withdrawal) that often indicate problems with drug and alcohol misuse.

Nevertheless, despite their relative invisibility, process addictions can lead to serious problems in a person's life and well-being. Treatment is often necessary to help the individual completely recover from any addiction.

Recognising process addiction: what are the symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of process addictions are similar to other addictions:

  • Cravings for behaviour
  • Difficulty resisting impulse to engage in behaviour
  • Narrowed range interests
  • Irritability when access to process is limited (withdrawal symptom)
  • Decreased pleasure in activity over time (tolerance)
  • Denial that there is a problem
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Lying about extent of behaviour
  • Hiding behaviour
  • Family, work, financial problems due to indulgence in the process

Common process addictions include gambling addiction, sex addiction, food addiction, internet addiction and shopping addiction.

Because process addictions often coexist with other addictions, treatment must be integrated and holistic and aimed at an overall improvement in lifestyle choices, rather than only addressing the specific behaviour. This helps to reduce the risk of relapse and cross addiction, or addiction replacement from occurring.

If you are struggling with any chemical or process addiction, contact me for an assessment with a view to an integrated treatment plan to meet your needs.