The Detrimental Impact of Process Addictions

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When mentioning “addiction,” you may think of a dependence on drugs or alcohol – the addictive substances that can greatly impact an individual’s health and daily life. However, the definition of addiction is much broader, encompassing more than drinking or use of amphetamines. Process addictions, otherwise known as behavioral addictions, can be just as detrimental to your life. This makes them an equally serious but overlooked class of addictions that can continue to affect lifestyle, relationships, and finances.

Understanding the Broad Array of Process Addictions

Process addictions come in many forms. They are best defined as any kind of behavior that you find difficult to stop, or engaging in a behavior despite the need to tend to other responsibilities. This kind of compulsive behavior that you cannot cease can inhibit many other aspects of daily life.

You may not be experiencing the physical ramifications of drug use. Still, process addictions’ mental and emotional impact on relationships, professional life, and finances wreak the same havoc in your life.

Process addictions can be any kind of compulsive behavior, though the most common forms that process addictions take are gambling, shopping, sex,  food/eating, social media, or gaming. While this is not an exhaustive list of process addictions, it does serve as a baseline to understand the wide array of aspects involved. Engaging in these behaviors themselves is a common practice – eating meals is encouraged throughout the day, and taking time to relax and play a video game can be a phenomenal source of self-care.

However, their transformation into process addictions can set in when these behaviors begin to overshadow the other parts of your life. For example, you may develop binge eating to cope with stress, or find yourself unable to stop spending money for in-game purchases in a mobile game. These things can go from healthy behaviors to detrimental addictions, even after such behaviors have had a negative impact on your life.

Because process addictions can masquerade as normal behavior, they can be difficult to identify or easier for you to justify. Constant monitoring of your relationship and spending when it comes to these process addictions is paramount for catching the development of process addictions before more self-destructive behaviors can occur.

The Signs and Symptoms of Process Addictions

There are a plethora of ways that you may feel the effects of process addictions. However, there are signs to show that your behavior may be having a detrimental effect. Some of these signs are:

  • Difficulty managing finances or making payments
  • Spending abnormal amounts of time engaging in the behavior or thinking about engaging
  • Mood swings
  • Anger/frustration when you are denied the ability to engage in the behavior
  • Self-isolation or relationship issues
  • Difficulty tending to responsibilities
  • Constant engagement with the behavior after destructive consequences have already happened

You may only be made aware of how such behaviors have become destructive after reaching a certain threshold. For example, while it can be difficult to visualize exactly how much money you lost while gambling. At the same time, it is common to continue to gamble with things of essential value, such as a car, rent money, or a home.

Process Addiction’s Relationship With Substance Use Disorders

Process addiction and substance use disorders (SUD) are two different diagnoses that indicate different things. However, they can also be closely related in a number of ways. You may still experience that same “high” when engaging in compulsive behaviors. Perhaps you feel compelled to reengage or depend on the behavior to feel happy or get going in the morning.

This makes suffering from a SUD and process addiction simultaneously very possible, resulting in dual-diagnosis. However, this also means that these process addictions can be developed as a replacement addiction if you are pursuing sobriety from addictive substances.

While using video games can be a form of self-care throughout addiction recovery, developing a gaming addiction can also recreate the same “high” and similar effects that compromise your recovery and responsible lifestyle.

Taking the First Step

Overcoming process addictions can be just as trying as any other kind of addiction, and will require a dedicated approach to change in your life. Each individual’s journey will be different. Therefore, taking the time to separate yourself from outlets where you could engage in these behaviors and begin working with professionals during talk therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is pertinent. Doing so can create a foundation for you to better understand your actions, impulses, and relationships with these destructive behaviors while creating a new focus on your mental health and future.

Substance abuse disorders and process addictions are both incredibly difficult to overcome, and we at Avalon Malibu understand the power of a unique and personalized approach to help you understand and overcome these struggles in your life. Located in Malibu, California, we are prepared to help you tackle the unique effects that substance use, process addictions, or dual-diagnoses have had on your life, and can meet you wherever you are in your recovery journey. From detox and residential treatment to partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, we can personalize each step of your journey with art, music, writing, yoga, massage, and many more therapeutic modalities. All of these are available for you in our safe atmosphere. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us to combat how substance use or process addictions have affected your life, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (844) 857-5992.

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