Process addictions are addictions to activities or processes such as gambling, eating, tanning, video/gaming, spending, sex, Internet surfing and work as opposed to a “substance addiction” like that of drugs or alcohol. The prevailing view is that process addictions are “real” addictions and that they share many commonalities with drug addiction.

Behavioral addictions can be just as debilitating and difficult to overcome as drug and alcohol addictions. Current research supports the growing understanding that process addictions impact chemicals in the brain much the same way as substances.

At The Ranch treatment center our approach considers that many addictions, whether they surface as substance abuse or compulsive behaviors, are fueled by underlying issues such as trauma, attachment, neglect or enmeshment issues, and are also typically perpetuated by co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and personality disorders. We help clients address all of these challenges and heal deep emotional wounds so they can go on to lead healthy, fulfilling lives without the need for destructive coping mechanisms that present as behavioral addictions. Learn more about our approach to addiction treatment or call 844-876-7680.

Some examples of process addictions include:

Gambling Addiction

Problem gambling is gambling behavior that causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. Problem gambling includes the condition known as pathological or compulsive gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of serious negative consequences. Pathological gambling devastates not only the gambler but also everyone with whom he or she has a significant relationship.

Compulsive Shopping/Spending

Sometimes referred to as “shopaholism,” shopping addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s life, family and finances. Those with a compulsive shopping problem get a similar type of “high” from shopping as those who engage in other addictive behaviors. In some individuals, shopping binges can trigger endorphins and dopamine, the “feel good” chemicals in the brain, reinforcing the behavior.

Indicators that shopping has become problematic include secretive shopping, hiding purchases, getting into financial trouble from overspending, jeopardizing relationships over the behavior, maintaining secret credit cards or accounts a spouse or partner is unaware of, and being unable to stay within a budget. Compulsive shopping is more than just one or two sprees over the year; it is a chronic behavior with negative consequences. Generally, when a person feels like they cannot control their shopping behaviors, it is indicative of a problem that may need professional attention.

Sex and Love Addiction

Love addiction and sex addiction are intimacy disorders that fulfill unmet, deeply ingrained needs for control, power, love or affection. Both conditions are strongly associated with early childhood trauma and carry a great deal of shame. Like all addictions, sex and love addiction are progressive in nature. Over time, the addict craves more frequent, intense or unusual experiences to achieve the initial sense of relief or euphoria. Sex and love become destructive to the individual’s health, relationships, career and/or finances, yet the addict is unable to control their behavior.

Sex and love addictions are very real problems that can lead to severe consequences like divorce, financial difficulty or legal problems. Love and sex addiction are often masked by other more prominent concerns such as alcohol and drug addictions and eating disorders. Left unaddressed, these behaviors and their underlying issues can contribute to chronic relapse and prevent an individual from healing in all areas of their life. Learn about our specialized love and sex addiction programs or call 844-876-7680.

Treatment for Process Addictions

Above are just a few examples of the many behavioral addictions that can wreak havoc on a person’s life and relationships. Regardless of the symptoms of the addiction (eating, spending, gambling or sex, for example), in order to recover fully and prevent cross addiction treatment must address co-occurring disorders like substance abuse and other mental health issues. Effective treatments for behavioral addictions include evidence-based medications, individual and group therapy, trauma-focused therapies and alternative approaches like mindfulness.