Process addiction, also known as a compulsive behavioral addiction, characterize specific addictive patterns and behaviors that transpire as a result of activities that do not directly include drugs and alcohol. Many times, process addictions involve substance abuse and mental illness, meaning it’s imperative to treat these issues simultaneously. Process addictions could potentially be just as damaging as drug and alcohol addictions.

Examples of process addictions include:

  • sex
  • gambling
  • pornography
  • shopping
  • exercising
  • working
  • smoking
  • eating
  • cleaning
  • hoarding
  • gaming
  • dissociation
  • self-harming
  • (OCD) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Types of Process Addictions

Shopping Addiction

Individuals dealing with a shopping addiction struggle with the inability to control their impulsive buying behaviors. Often times individuals develop an addiction because they enjoy the high or sense of relief while shopping. Their brain will release endorphins and dopamine, and as time passes these feelings become addictive. Shopping addicts usually find themselves in financial distress, meaning they spend well beyond their means. All of the factors that play into their addiction lead them to shame and regret which drives them to conceal their shopping habits from their families.

Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is a progressive addiction that many individuals struggle with. It’s defined as a persistent or recurring problematic behavior that causes distress and can potentially impair overall livelihood. Often times a gambling addiction is associated with other behavior or mood disorders. In order for individuals to overcome their gambling problems they also have to identify other underlying causes.

Food Addiction

Food addiction closely resembles drug and alcohol addiction in many ways. Food addiction develops by affecting the way your brain works, just as drug and alcohol addiction. Individuals suffering with a food addiction aren’t capable of controlling their eating habits, they eat past the point of being full. In some cases, a food addiction can be caused be something mental or emotional. Usually food addicts crave high-fat, high-sugar, and high-calorie foods that are extremely addictive. Individuals experience a significant amount of shame and guilt after binge eating which causes even more emotional distress.

Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is defined as the inability to control compulsive sexual behaviors despite the negative consequences. An individual dealing with sex addiction will spend an inappropriate amount of time seeking or engaging in sexual activities. Often times they will use these sexual activities as a way to deal with other emotional and psychological issues. These compulsive behaviors have the potential to negatively impact an individual's physical and mental health, quality of life, safety, as well as personal relationships.

Internet Addiction

Internet addiction refers to the problematic use of the internet. Individuals with internet addictions usually start off using the internet on a regular basis which then progressively leads to using technology in a dysfunctional way. There is no single cause of internet addiction, several factors usually play a role in the development.