Woman sitting with her head in her hands feeling distressed about behavioral addictions

The Dangers of Behavioral Addictions

When most people hear the word addiction, they think of drug or alcohol use. However, other types of addiction are behavioral or process-oriented. These form in the same ways as substance use disorders and carry many of the same dangers. Individuals with behavioral addictions engage in activities compulsively and without the ability to refrain, causing problems with daily functioning, health, and relationships.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with behavioral addiction, contact Recovery Ranch today. Our process addiction treatment center provides tailored care to help individuals work through their struggles and create healthier lifestyles for long-term success. Don’t wait any longer – start your journey to a happier and healthier life by calling 1.844.876.7680.

What Is a Behavioral Addiction?

Behavioral or process addiction involves a preoccupation with an activity such as shopping, gambling, sex, or using pornography. Those with this issue continue the behavior despite adverse consequences, experience withdrawal symptoms after stopping the behavior and increase the frequency or intensity of the behavior to achieve the same effects. Some common types of behavioral addictions include the following.


Many people love to shop, but it becomes an uncontrollable need for some. Shopaholics feel an endorphin-based high when they purchase items, followed by deep shame and guilt when confronted with bills. Despite negative consequences, they may attempt to hide the evidence of their behavior and go to great lengths to continue shopping. Shoppers who have maxed out their credit cards might begin shoplifting because they crave the feeling they get from accumulating belongings. Low self-esteem and a desire to fill a perceived void often fuel this process addiction.


Driven by the thrill of a potential win, compulsive gamblers risk money on everything from slot machines and casino table games to horse racing and the lottery. These individuals may jeopardize family finances or steal money to stay in the game. They usually attempt to hide their behavior and indebtedness until there is no escape. Family relationships are often the first casualties. Job losses and bankruptcy also frequently accompany the behavior.


Appropriately used, sex is an activity through which people can form an intimate bond. Although individuals have differing levels of sex drive, a person with a strong libido is not necessarily an addict. Addiction is present when a person uses sex to escape reality or pursue selfish pleasures and cannot walk away from the behavior, regardless of detrimental consequences.

Using Pornography

People addicted to pornography spend inordinate amounts of time viewing pornographic images or thinking about doing so. People with this process addiction regularly seek out new or more intense pornography to experience the same thrill. Similarly to people with drug or alcohol use disorders, those with pornography addiction need more potent doses for the brain to release the pleasure-causing chemicals. 

Other behavioral addictions include compulsively eating, working, exercising, and playing video games. However, as with substance addictions, treatment and recovery are possible.

Get Help With Process Addictions at Recovery Ranch

If you or someone you love struggles with behavioral addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out to Recovery Ranch. Our expert team of mental health professionals can provide you with an individualized treatment plan. No matter where you are on your journey, we’ll give you the guidance you need for healing and lasting recovery.

We understand that seeking help with process addiction can be daunting, but at Recovery Ranch, we make it as straightforward and stress-free as possible. With our evidence-based approach to treatment, we assist people with building the skills they need to gain self-confidence, independence, and joy in life. Fill out our online form, or call 1.844.876.7680 today to learn more about how we can get you on the road to recovery.

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