What are Process Addictions?

Sex, gambling, collecting, and shopping are activities you might pursue for recreational purposes. But what happens when you develop an obsession related to the process of these activities? Suddenly, your life revolves around setting up the next sexual encounter or making the big win at the table. These patterns turn regular activities into process addictions that need treatment.

Understanding the Insidious Nature of Process Addictions

Woman sad about trying to understand her process addictions.Unlike a substance abuse problem, process addictions are harder to pinpoint. Sure, it’s easy to say that someone has a problem with gambling if she or he bets the mortgage money. But what about hobbies, working, religion, or risk-taking? How much is too much?

Other process addictions include exercise, black and white thinking, magical thinking, and self-harm. These are a little easier to detect and point out to someone. But it comes down to the same question of when is it time to quit and seek professional help. In the case of self-harm, the answer is obvious.

How would you know, however, that the inability to connect actions and events correctly (magical thinking) requires intervention? Can you pinpoint the moment when engagement in this behavior results in a dopamine rush that validates your actions? Do you notice that there’s a progressive nature to these practices that change your actions over time? Maybe you try to quit and “be good” for a while, but you chronically relapse.

Recognizing the Need for Treatment

Unlike addictions to alcohol and drugs, there’s no detox facility to visit for a stay. You can’t ask for help quitting your eating, shopping, and working. These are still activities you typically have to engage in. Most commonly, people recognize that they have a problem with a process or activity because others point it out.

The activity has begun to cause significant problems in personal relationships. Perhaps the consistent engagement in the activity is starting to cause stress, anxiety, and adverse mental health effects. You might suffer health problems because of it. Examples of other negative consequences may be financial in nature. You commonly see this with a gambling addiction.

If this applies to you, then you also know how difficult it is to get help with process addictions. You might talk to your doctor who may then treat the health consequences of your addiction and refer you elsewhere. If you visit a mental health professional for assistance, you’re looking at a long-term treatment prospect. However, you’re scared of what happens in the six to 12 months it may take to work through the problem.

You need treatment that takes 30 to 90 days, particularly if the addiction is so severe that it threatens your health or livelihood. As with any other form of addiction, you need professional intervention and therapy that deals with the progressive disease. These conditions are not something you can fix with a self-help book and good intentions.

Some Rehab Facilities Treat Process Addictions

Many therapists recognize that process addictions and substance abuse problems are frequently two sides of the same coin. These experts look for the addictive pattern that governs your choices and actions. They work hard at coaxing out the “why” behind any activity or pattern that holds you captive.

Residential treatment is typically the most effective method for addressing process addictions. You live at the facility for 30 to 90 days. Doing so protects you from giving in to the need to engage in the activity you’re trying to curtail. During this time, you also have the opportunity to engage in a treatment model including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy that helps you to differentiate negative behaviors, thoughts, and feelings
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy that is suitable for people with black-and-white thinking mechanisms
  • Trauma treatment that takes into account unresolved events from your past, which still wreak havoc in your life today
  • Dual diagnosis assessment and treatment for underlying mental health challenges that often fuel process addictions
  • Application of 12 step principles to get a better handle on the breadth and depth of the addiction and its impact

When working with therapists that can help you overcome this addiction type, a holistic approach makes the most sense. It combines psychotherapy with experiential therapies such as:

  • Nutritional counseling and wellness to help you shift your focus on healthy living
  • Equine therapy for the development of healthy habits and coping techniques
  • Yoga exercises promote stress relief and assist with stressor identification
  • Ropes course training presents group interactivity for the formation of healthy relationships and acceptance of advice
  • Different sports introduce you to potentially new hobbies that can take the places of activities related to process addictions

The goal of the treatment is not to fix the symptoms of the underlying condition. These typically take care of themselves once therapists help you get to the root. When you understand why you have an addictive personality that chooses to express itself via a process, you can stop. At this moment, you regain control over your life and decisions.

Incorporating a Functional Living Approach in Recovery

Unlike chemical drugs that you have to seek out, tasks associated with a process addiction are always around. Some are constantly in your face. Those dealing with an addiction to shopping understand the difficulties this problem presents. Functional living therapy can make a significant difference in the way you respond.

In many ways, self-care training, which is an integral part of this therapeutic approach, evolves into a lifestyle. It means that you learn how to function well in situations where temptations and triggers are all around you. Another goal is the shifting from an unhealthy obsession to a productive ability to pay attention to health. A case in point is someone with an exercise obsession who learns how to take care of her or his body with nutrition and moderate exercise.

Because this approach teaches moderation of healthy processes, it alters the way you live your life on a daily basis. During a residential stay at a rehab facility, you work on putting these new lifestyle tools into practice. At discharge, you quickly transition into your life with the habits you formed at the facility. Because of the portability that functional living modalities offer, you succeed in preventing a relapse right after discharge.

As you incorporate them into your daily routines over the coming weeks, you also help to protect against future relapse. Remember that you’re once again in control over your actions. You don’t have to go shopping to scratch a mental itch or make up for something that’s missing. Instead, you choose if, when, and why to go shopping, which allows you to control your spending and actions.

Do You Need Help for Process Addictions?

A host of behaviors and activities can develop into a process addiction. But you don’t have to hide your struggle any longer from friends and family members. There’s help available at the Healing Springs Ranch. Dial 866-656-8384 answers and advice on process addictions and how we can help you.

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