In today’s fast-paced world, addiction takes many forms. While substance abuse remains a significant concern, another category of addiction is gaining attention—process addiction. What is a process addiction, exactly?
QuickSilver Counseling Center offers process addiction therapy to individuals grappling with compulsive behaviors that may not involve substances but are equally detrimental to one’s well-being. Contact us at 888.477.8941 to find the help you need.
What Is a Process Addiction? A Definition
Understanding what a process addiction is is essential in the realm of addictive behaviors. A process addiction refers to compulsive behaviors that an individual continues to engage in despite experiencing negative consequences. These behaviors can become habitual and, much like substance addiction, lead to severe disruptions in a person’s life. It’s worth noting that these behaviors don’t involve an intoxicating substance, but they can produce mood-altering experiences.
The primary difference between process and substance addiction is the object of addiction. In substance addiction, a person is addicted to a chemical substance that alters the mind or body, leading to feelings of pleasure, relief, or other emotions. Examples include alcohol, nicotine, opioids, and stimulants.
Types of Process Addictions
In a process addiction, the addictive behavior is not related to the ingestion of a substance. Instead, it revolves around certain activities or processes that provide a similar kind of “high” or satisfaction. Here are a few examples of process addictions:
- Gambling addiction – Persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior that intensifies with financial loss.
- Internet addiction – Excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges, or behaviors regarding computer use and internet access.
- Sex addiction – Compulsive participation or engagement in sexual activity, particularly sexual intercourse, despite negative consequences.
- Shopping addiction – An obsession with shopping and buying behavior that causes distress or impairment.
- Video gaming addiction – Excessive playing of video games that impacts daily activities and responsibilities.
Treatment for process addiction, like substance addiction, often involves a combination of therapy, support groups, and sometimes medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, in particular, has shown promise in treating various process addictions by helping individuals recognize and change their destructive patterns of behavior.
Why Are Certain Behaviors Considered Addictions?
Addiction is rooted in the brain’s reward system. Activities that individuals find pleasurable—eating, socializing, achieving success—stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, motivation, and reward. Over time, if an activity or substance consistently boosts dopamine release, the brain can start to rely on that activity or substance to feel pleasure or stave off feelings of discomfort or distress. Consequently, individuals may pursue the behavior more frequently and in greater intensities, trying to attain the same “high” or relief they once experienced.
Process addictions emerge when a typically harmless or even beneficial activity is pursued to excess, to the point where it hampers everyday life. For instance, social media provides immediate feedback in the form of likes, comments, and shares. Over time, if one starts relying on such instant gratifications to bolster self-worth or escape reality, the behavior can transform into an addiction.
The consequences of behavioral addictions can be just as severe as substance addictions. Relationships are strained, finances are depleted, and mental and physical health can deteriorate. Furthermore, just as with substances, individuals with process addictions can experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to reduce or quit the behavior.
Call QuickSilver Counseling Center to Find Help
Whether it’s through one-on-one counseling, group therapy, or holistic approaches, QuickSilver is committed to guiding you every step of the way. Our center prides itself on creating a structured, confidential, and supportive environment where recovery is the primary focus. Contact us at 888.477.8941 today to enroll in a tailored treatment program.