Process Addiction

Process Addiction: Facts, Studies, and Other Essentials

Addiction comes in all sorts of forms. A common misconception is the over physical reliance on substances, in which an individual would often fall in physical, emotional, and mental pitfalls.

But this reliance on substances is just the tip of the iceberg. Process addiction, otherwise known as behavioral addiction, deals with the compulsive nature connected to the actual act of abuse on substances and other triggers that cause addiction. In effect, the actual thought of engaging in addictive activities, regardless of actual knowledge of the negative effects, is addiction itself.

History of Process Addiction

It has only been fairly recently that process addiction has been accepted as a new class of addiction, yet snippets of the actual psychological or behavioral impact of this addiction have been seen in early studies. Formally, though, the proposal to include process addiction as a distinct form of addiction has been pushed for by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) in a study pushed in 2011. Additionally, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), proposed that process addiction should also be a new class in 2013. Considering the many behaviours and activities that may stimulate addiction (gaming addiction and social media addiction can be considered as one of the most recent forms of addiction), the study of process addiction is an evolving field that is expected to vastly grow throughout the years.

Early snippets on the connection of behavioral and compulsive nature of activities resulting in addiction can be seen in a study that was released before the 2011 ASAM proposal. The Scripps Research Institute, in a study connected to food addiction, recorded a correlation of substance abuse among humans and compulsive eating among rats. This 2009 study proved dopamine, a neurotransmitter connected to the satisfaction of anticipating a form of reward, is released in both eating and drug abuse activities.

Additionally, another early study that may point towards process addiction is one published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal in 2008. The study showed that there seems to be a direct link among individuals who engage in binge eating, substance abuse, and gambling. When compared, the study revealed that respondents from these varied activities all have a sense of urgency, that most do not consider the consequences of their selected activities.

The ASAM study in 2011 may very well be the trigger that set process addiction as a unique form of addiction. Further studies are being conducted in the correlation of compulsion and various forms of activities, in which addiction is the common denominator among the different activities.

Process Addiction Statistics

  • 1 in 10 individuals engaged in video games is recorded to be addicted to the activity.
  • Compulsive gambling addiction is considered as one of the most common links of process addiction. Approximately 2% to 3% of Americans have been recorded to be addicted to gambling.
  • From the 2% to 3% population of individuals addicted to gambling, 25% have been recorded to be female.
  • Compulsive buying disorder (CBD), another popular link to process addiction, has been recorded to have a 8% lifetime prevalence in the general population of the United States.
  • From the 5.8% prevalence of those addicted to shopping, 80% have been recorded to be female (although the study is quick to note that gender difference may in fact be artifactual.
  • Co-occurrence with another form of addiction can be expected from those suffering from process addiction. Individuals with sex addiction are more likely to have another form of addiction (such as love or pornography addiction) set at 40% and above.
  • Another common link to process addiction, pornography or sex addiction, highlights that 47% of internet users engage in constant searches for online pornography.

Process Addiction Symptoms

Regardless of the type of activity, the trigger of engaging in an addictive activity is similar to addictions in the actual compulsive behavior. Generally, some common process addiction symptoms can be filtered to the following:

  • A deep craving for the addicting activity.
  • Having that rewarding sensation (or thrill) of the anticipation of getting something out of an addicting activity.
  • Going through a “ritual” that will lead to the actual addicting activity (booting up a computer before a gaming session, preparing food to eat, contacting possible sex partners, setting up drug paraphernalia before the actual consumption of the substance, etc.).
  • Experiencing the sensation one feels after indulging in the addicting activity (the “high” one gets from drugs, the feeling of being full after a meal, even living out destructive behaviour after a one night stand or taking drugs, etc.).
  • Associating the obsessive-compulsive behaviour related to engaging in an addicting activity as an equal or even more powerful form of addiction.

To place process addiction in an even more focused perspective, here are some specific addiction symptoms that relate to behavioral addiction triggers:

Gambling Addiction

The feeling of getting “hooked” in a game, regardless of what’s at stake, is a common link to behavioral addiction. The pleasure of getting a reward, no matter if the afflicted has already lost in terms of relationships, finances, and even health, is a major symptom of being addicted to compulsive behavior.

Pornography Addiction

This type of addiction primarily starts as a normal routine. Mainly because of the accessibility of pornography online, most individuals start this form of addiction as a simple online search. The search eventually transforms into a routine, wherein the afflicted now takes pleasure in digging deeper for more forms of pornography. The thrill correlates with the dopamine effect – there is a reward for searching, which may result in various health hazards for the individual.

Sex Addiction

The search for multiple partners to engage in sexual activities is highly connected to process addiction. Aside from the stimulating effect of searching for potential partners, individuals addicted to sex may also be prone to various diseases connected to the said activity.

Shopping Addiction

Getting addicted to purchases is a prime example of how one can trick him or herself on why there is a need to buy something. Sometimes, justifying purchases mainly because of a bargain or the promo attached to a product can be a form of addiction.

Social Media Addiction

Spending an immense amount of time in social media is a recent form of addiction. Updating one’s profile or simply scrolling on a feed can be damaging, especially if relationships, work or school commitments, and one’s health, are all directly affected because of the medium.

Food Addiction

Indulging in consuming an immense amount of food also has a direct correlation on compulsive behavior. Individuals suffering from this condition are prone not only to physical health disorders but to mental ones as well, connected to obesity issues.

Process Addiction Treatment

Treating process addiction depends on the type of addicting activity the individual is engaged with. Generally speaking, several treatment programs are available to help treat compulsive behavior related to this form of addiction. Here are some of these programs and strategies:

Psychotherapy

Given the deep connection to the nature of the mind, psychotherapy is a highly-recommended form of treatment to address process addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be a good choice, considering the identification and direct treatment to the emotions attached to the different forms of addicting activities the afflicted may be engaged in.

Co-Occurrence Treatment

Given the high chance of dual diagnosis, a treatment plan that addresses both mental and substance (or whatever addicting activity) the afflicted are engaged in is a sound approach on how to treat this form of addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment will also help in offering treatment plans that will not aggravate the different disorders the individual is currently suffering from.

Support Network

Seeking out and interacting with like-minded individuals is considered an excellent way to treat process addiction. In some cases, the afflicted may also need to deal with the negative stigma connected to his or her addiction. By having a support network, the individual may open up and be more receptive to possible treatment plans offered from his or her peers. Additionally, peer support is considered to be one of the best treatment strategies in dealing with process addiction – recent forms of addiction may still need some time for a proper treatment plan to be developed, and as such, a network is highly considered to help engage the individual towards a better alternative.

Lifestyle Change

In what may be connected to all of the treatment strategies above, an intentional push towards a different approach in tackling activities may be a great way to address process addiction. In cases where process addiction is a routine, shifting towards a healthier alternative to replace the damaging activity may help the individual.

Process Addiction Can be Treated

Although the field is constantly evolving, process addiction can still be treated. As similar to other types of addiction, help is always available for the individual. Identifying the problem, addressing the different triggers, and creating solid treatment strategies are some of the best ways to help with this disorder. Behavioral addiction is best treated once the individual accepts the disorder.

Sex and Porn Addiction Can be Treated

Treating sex addiction is possible when the right steps are administered. Intentionally acknowledging that some routines are damaging will allow an individual to also see the possible repercussions he or she may experience when engaging in addicting activities.

Also, knowing the importance of psychotherapy is needed when dealing with sex addiction. This disorder mainly deals with the mind – the power of suggestion needs to be implemented, for an individual to accept that his or her actions will lead to negative effects.

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