Most people think of substances like alcohol or drugs when considering addiction. However, process addictions can develop without the involvement of any substances. Such addictions are habitual actions that give a person the emotional high they crave, so they keep on engaging in the addictive behavior.
Process addictions, which involve addictive and compulsive behaviors that are often detrimental to a person’s well-being, share similar characteristics with alcohol or drug addiction. For example, a person struggling with this condition will continue to repeat their problematic behaviors despite the negative consequences, though they may feel remorse or shame after doing so. This is not unlike people with substance use disorders that continue to take addictive substances despite negative social and health consequences.
What Is a Process Addiction?
Process addiction is also sometimes called behavioral addiction. This type of addiction involves an overwhelming impulse to engage in certain behaviors despite their negative consequences. While the behavior is happening, the person doing it experiences an elevated mood that later evokes a sense of guilt or shame.
Although process addiction and substance addiction are different mental disorders, they frequently co-occur, which leads to a dual diagnosis. Patients with a dual diagnosis must seek treatment for both conditions simultaneously for a better chance of complete addiction recovery.
The most significant sign of a developing process addiction is the same for all types of addiction. The person affected can’t seem to stop or even limit their compulsive behavior, just like people with substance addictions can’t stop misusing alcohol or drugs. Other signs of symptoms include the following:
- They are consistently seeking the emotional high the behavior delivers, leading to increased instances of that behavior to achieve the desired effect.
- Despite its adverse effect on mental and physical health, relationships, and work or school responsibilities, they continue the behavior.
- They’re spending an abnormal amount of time thinking about or being actively involved in the compulsive behavior, often excluding other activities, relationships, or responsibilities.
- They use the behavior to escape negative emotions such as grief or anger.
- They experience withdrawal, such as severe mental distress, when unable to engage in the behavior.
People that grew up with addicted family members or have experienced childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma may be at a higher risk for developing process addictions. People who spend much of their time with others who have a dependency are also at a higher risk.
What Are the Different Types of Process Addictions?
Now you know what a process addiction is and what the signs of it are. However, you might be wondering what type of addiction you’re observing if you recognize the signs in someone you care about or yourself.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does recognize process addiction as a mental health disorder. This definition only includes gambling under the diagnosis. However, experts believe that the DSM will add other types of process addiction in future editions.
Process addictions generally involve behaviors that cause financial or legal troubles, damage interpersonal relationships, and harm physical and emotional health. Standard process addictions that experts have not yet included in the DSM include those that involve:
- Collecting or viewing pornography
- Internet use
- Playing video games
- Sexual activity
Learn More About Baltimore Detox Center
As with other treatment programs, psychotherapy is a common feature in process addiction treatment programs.
Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is one of the most recognized treatments for process addiction. However, a patient’s treatment plan can also include prescription medications. It may also involve some form of holistic therapy depending on their symptoms or co-occurring disorders.
If you’re looking for a process addiction treatment program in Maryland, contact Baltimore Detox Center’s team online or call 833.714.1575.