Process Addictions – What Are They and Why Are These Classified as Addictions?

 

You may have already heard of sex addicts, gambling addicts, and even gaming addicts as if these individuals have some form of substance addiction. But sex, porn, gambling, and gaming are not substances and, thus they cannot be classified as drug or substance addictions. So what are these?

What are Process Addictions?

Process addiction is the other term given to behavioral addiction. The general observation is that some forms of behavior produce an overall sense of reward to the individual who displays these behaviors. Because of these rewards, there is an increasing desire or compulsion on the part of the individual to repeat the said behavior even though the person knows that doing so can have adverse consequences.

Why are Certain Behaviors Considered as a Form of Addictions?

Certain behaviors are considered addictions because there is a significant reduction in one’s ability to control the behavior. It is often characterized by a compulsion to perform the behavior despite knowledge of its adverse effects.

For example, compulsive gambling is now considered as a process addiction. When individuals win on their bets, they are enticed to play more. If the individual loses in a bet, the reaction is to recover. This is despite the fact that the individual knows that doing so can lead to more financial woes which can also spell issues in his social relationships.

It is the person’s loss of control over the act of gambling, even though he knows what can happen if he loses, that makes gambling a form of process addiction. The same is true with sex, gaming, and porn addictions. There is diminished control over such behaviors.

There is a growing body of research indicating that the nature of process addiction, its phenomenology, presence of comorbidities, tolerance, concurrent neurobiological mechanisms, role of genetic predisposition, and overall response to therapy are similar to those seen in substance addictions.

What are Examples of Process Addictions?

Here are some examples of process addictions and their consequences.

Food addiction – Food addicts often have extreme feelings of guilt, problems with their personal and social relationships, and are subject to nutritional, metabolic, and cardiovascular problems.

Gambling addiction – Compulsive gamblers are known to have increased suicide ideation and completion. Their social relationships also suffer. Financial losses are often the trigger for their death by suicide.

Internet addiction – This is a growing global concern as almost every aspect of modern life now revolves around the internet. When internet use severely disrupts normal life activities and relationships, then it becomes an addiction.

Sex addiction – Too much preoccupation with sex itself without thinking about the consequences of such actions is considered an addiction.

Shopping addiction – Compulsive shoppers often have intense feelings of guilt. In many cases, there is shame but their loss of control still sees them shopping. This leads to more emotional, social, and even financial consequences.

In essence, process addictions are very similar to substance addictions in that there is a general loss of control. Understanding what these types of addictions are including their consequences can help in the determination of the most appropriate treatment plan.

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