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What Is a Process Addiction?

Though most people are familiar with substance use disorders, process addiction is unfamiliar to many. A process addiction is a compulsion to engage in a specific activity, no matter how much it adversely affects a person’s ability to stay healthy and functional. Individuals might feel a high from engaging in the behavior and experience guilt later, causing potentially serious harm to their well-being and personal lives.

Process addictions are difficult to overcome alone. Fortunately, help is available at Recovery Ranch. Our process addiction treatment center uses evidence-based interventions to help people recover and reclaim their lives. Call 1.844.876.7680 today to learn how we can get you on the road to long-term recovery.

What Is a Process Addiction?

Process addiction is an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with behavior or activity that temporarily relieves stress, anxiety, and other negative feelings. These addictive behaviors that do not involve using a chemical substance. Examples include gambling, shopping, using the internet, or gaming. Process addictions are on the rise due to easy access to online resources and the ability to remain anonymous while engaging in risky behavior.

Process addictions can cause significant disruptions in one’s life by interfering with relationships, job performance, social activities, and health. People struggling with them may feel ashamed or embarrassed due to stigma and may be reluctant to seek help. Those affected may also suffer from comorbid mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. 

Symptoms of Process Addiction

Symptoms may vary greatly depending on the type of process addiction. Here are some examples and how they might appear in a person’s life.


Gambling addiction is an urge to gamble despite the negative consequences. It is an impulse control disorder in which people cannot resist the temptation to gamble even when they know it will have severe financial and interpersonal repercussions. People with a gambling addiction may feel an intense need to bet money even when it puts them at risk of losing their savings, homes, jobs, and relationships. Problem gamblers often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the emotional pain associated with the addiction.


Sex addiction is a compulsion to have sex or perform sexual acts to feel satisfied. Also called nymphomania, sex addicts may alter their lives to engage in sexual intercourse and other actions several times daily. Common signs of sex addiction include:

  • Obsessive sexual fantasies
  • Lying to hide behavior
  • Preoccupation with having sex, to the point of it interfering with daily life
  • Placing self and others in danger with the behavior
  • Feeling guilty after having sex

Many people with sex addiction go undiagnosed and don’t get the help they need.


Love addiction is a term used to describe individuals who compulsively form intimate and passionate attachments with others, often to avoid uncomfortable feelings or emotions. It can also refer to an intense preoccupation with romantic fantasy and idealization, which might manifest in seeking out multiple dating partners or having difficulty maintaining long-term relationships. Love addicts may express their neediness through clingy behavior, relationship inconsistency, or even obsessive-compulsive behaviors such as repeatedly checking their partner’s social media accounts or emails. They may also struggle with jealousy, possessiveness, unrealistic expectations of their partners, and fear of abandonment. The core issues driving love addiction are usually unresolved emotional trauma, unresolved childhood issues, or missing self-worth and confidence. People who are love addicts may require counseling and other forms of therapy to work through underlying issues to build healthier relationships.

Binge Eating 

Many eating disorders also fall into the category of process addictions. In particular, binge eating disorder is when someone eats large amounts of food quickly and then feels guilty later. Some binge eaters will purge afterward. Binge-eating episodes typically come with at least three of the following qualities:

  • Eating faster than normal
  • Eating beyond feeling full
  • Consuming a lot of food without feeling hungry
  • Eating alone to avoid judgment or feeling embarrassed 
  • Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after eating
  • Feeling out of control over eating habits
  • Dieting frequently
  • Obsessing over body weight and shape
  • Having feelings of low self-esteem

Treatment for binge eating disorder is most effective when working with a recovery team that understands your condition’s unique needs and has experience restoring clients to wellness.  

Overcome a Process Addiction at The Ranch

The first thing you need to know about process addictions is that you should never overcome them alone. If you or a loved one struggles with one, contact Recovery Ranch. We can provide more information about process addiction and build a treatment plan that helps you lead a more fulfilling life. 

The Ranch’s personalized process addiction treatment center can help you overcome negative behaviors in a supportive, judgment-free environment. Contact our admissions today at 1.844.876.7680 to learn how we can help you regain your life.

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