Process addiction is a preoccupation with repeating certain behaviors. Not everyone has a healthy relationship to specific tasks and pastimes. Problems occur when you become unable to control yourself. The compulsive need to repeat particular activities sometimes leads to addictive behavior. Process addiction can be passive or active and involves some kind of reward or reinforcement.
What causes the condition is the primary difference between a substance use disorder (SUD) and process addiction. According to a 2012 study, “behavioral science experts believe that all entities capable of stimulating a person can be addictive; and whenever a habit changes into an obligation, it can be considered as an addiction.” The list of possible causes and risk factors is enormous due to the personal nature of process addictions.
Process addictions are sometimes called behavioral addictions because they involve repetitive and obsessive behaviors. The following have the potential to form addictive habits:
People with process addiction often get diagnosed with other disorders that feature similar compulsive behaviors, such as substance use disorder, gambling addiction, or eating disorders, to name a few.
Substance use disorder (SUD) and compulsive behavioral disorders often co-occur. You must treat both for a successful recovery. A few of the ways process addiction is similar to substance use disorder include:
Changes to the brain occur with both substance abuse and behavioral addiction. The pleasure and reward centers of the brain get rewired, causing impulsive and compulsive behavior.
Researchers do not know the precise cause of process addiction. Genetics sometimes play a role in developing addictive behaviors along with a range of other risk factors like age, family and personal medical history, mental health status, and others. Behavioral addictions, in particular, are difficult to predict because any activity that involves some form of reward has the potential to be addictive to certain people.
These types of disorders are highly individualistic and develop for a variety of reasons. A 2011 research paper concluded, “growing evidence suggests that behavioral addictions resemble substance addictions in many domains, including natural history, phenomenology, tolerance, comorbidity, overlapping genetic contribution, neurobiological mechanisms, and response to treatment.”
We all have passionate things, like sports, hobbies, work, or social events. However, passion becomes an addiction when you put those things above the health and well-being of yourself and others. If you neglect core personal and professional responsibilities to pursue something superficial or even detrimental, it is a problem. You might notice an inability to stop the behavior regardless of how much damage it causes to you or your loved ones. In those cases, treatment is necessary to prevent unwanted behavior.
The signs and symptoms of process addiction mimic those of substance use disorder in many ways. If you believe that yourself or a loved one may be showing addictive behaviors, you may notice the following signs and symptoms:
Addictive behaviors seem normal to the person experiencing them. If you are concerned for the well-being of a loved one and feel the need to approach them about their behavior, you may want to use the following steps.
Due to the similarity between substance use disorders and process addiction, the treatments are often similar. Psychotherapy is the most common, and some people require medication-assisted therapy for severe cases to manage symptoms of anxiety or depression. Breaking the habit of repetition takes dedication and expert treatment. You can overcome process addiction using a personalized care plan provided by your doctor or the care team at a facility like White House Recovery and Detox.
Your treatment may include a combination of psychotherapy, motivational steps, preventative education, and prescription medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common treatment for behavioral addictions. Other therapies include: