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Process Addiction Treatment: From Addiction to Healthy Living

Process addiction can take many forms. Learn how to identify your own process addiction, and find out what tools are available for you to overcome it.

Process Addiction Treatment

Process addiction can be defined as obsessive thoughts that cause people to act compulsively. There are three types of process addictions: impulse control disorders, behavioral addictions, and paraphilias. Process addiction can be treated with therapy or medication and here at PROMIS we are experts on treating process addiction, continue reading to know everything about process addiction including signs, causes, and treatment options.

What is Process Addiction?

Process addiction is a term that was initially coined by psychologist Stanton Peele to define an addictive behavior that people engage in to process emotions. He argues the following criteria for identifying someone who suffers from process addiction:

1. People have a compulsive need for the activity because they are addicted to it

2. There has been an impairment in the person’s emotional and social functioning

3. The behavior has been on-going on for more than a year

4. There is an inability to reduce or stop engaging in the behavior

Process addiction can be hard to identify because of the way it manifests in different people. For example, an individual may suffer from process addiction when they drink alcohol or engage in other addictive behaviors such as gambling or other substance abuse.

An individual who suffers from process addiction may have the following symptoms:

-The behavior is engaged in processing emotions, such as when someone drinks alcohol to calm down or to feel happy.

-The behavior is engaged in as a way of avoiding problems, such as gambling as a way to escape from reality or drinking alcohol when life gets tough.

-The behavior replaces other activities that are considered healthy, such as drinking alcohol instead of eating a meal.

-The behavior is engaged in to avoid feeling negative emotions, such as when an individual engages in excessive eating to avoid feeling depressed.

-The behavior is engaged in as a way of improving mood, such as using drugs or alcohol to feel better after an argument with someone close.

-The behavior is engaged in as a way of relieving tension, such as using drugs or alcohol to numb the stress from work.

-The behavior becomes a constant habit, even when it’s no longer pleasurable.

-The behavior is engaged in to avoid or manage withdrawal symptoms, such as using drugs for the purpose of avoiding nausea and pain during withdrawal.

From a medical perspective, addiction is a condition that develops when the body becomes dependent on substances or behaviors to function normally.

When you have an addiction to something like food, it often doesn’t feel like you are addicted because it’s something that your body needs to function. However, other kinds of behaviors and substances can be addictive as well.

Common Features of Substance Use Disorders and Process Addiction

Behavioral, emotional, and psychological processes that an individual may use in order to cope with or avoid feelings of distress fall under process addictions. These behaviors can be addictive and often lead to substance abuse.

There are many common features of substance use disorders and process addiction. These include patterns in when, how often, where and under what circumstances the behaviors are engaged in; tolerance levels for drugs or behaviors; withdrawal symptoms when the behaviors are stopped or avoided; and negative consequences to personal relationships, work or school.

Process addictions usually include a pattern of compulsive engagement in an activity, leading to a significant reduction in the person’s quality of life and other adaptive abilities.

The treatment for process addiction may include psychological counseling from addiction specialists or mental health professionals who can effectively diagnose and treat this type of addiction.

Why is a Process Addiction Assessment Important?

This kind of addiction is a form of psychological dependency. People who are addicted to process addictions often feel like they need the activity in order to function or be happy. Typical examples of process addictions include gambling, shopping, sex, overeating, and spending. No matter how hard the person tries to stop or cut down on their addiction they are unable to do so.

The treatment of process addiction is often time-intensive because it involves identifying the underlying cause of addiction, which is often traced to childhood trauma.

Treatment usually involves a series of steps that gradually increases in intensity over time. The first step typically includes education about the addiction, articles on process addictions, and relaxation techniques for overcoming cravings.

Process Addiction Assessment

A process addiction assessment can help identify if a person is suffering from an underlying cause of their addiction. Sometimes the underlying condition is related to people, situations, or activities.

An assessment will also provide insight into the ways in which people typically use or abuse drugs, which can help them identify triggers and plan treatment accordingly. The clinical assessment is also helpful for identifying underlying causes of addiction such as mental health disorders, trauma, or other social influences.

How to do a Process Addiction Assessment?

Process addiction assessment is important because it helps you to better understand the process addiction. A person who has a process addiction may, in some cases, not be aware that they have one in the first place, but this assessment is designed to help them become more aware. The assessment can be done in a variety of ways, but there are some basic steps that should always be followed.

The first step is to create a list of behaviors that are likely to be process addictions. These might include things like drinking, shopping, sex addiction and gambling.

The second step is for the person doing the assessment to ask the person being assessed whether they have engaged in any of these behaviors.

The third step is for the person doing the assessment to take note of how often this behavior has occurred, how long it has gone on for, and the degree of social isolation that this person is experiencing.

The fourth step is to get the person being assessed to create a list of things that they would like to do instead of engaging in the process addiction.

The fifth step is for the person doing an assessment to share this list with them and help them identify ways of achieving these goals.

Types of Process Addiction

Process addiction is an addictive behavior that falls outside the four recognized types of substance abuse disorders. It can be characterized by impaired control, continued use despite negative consequences and persistent craving or withdrawal symptoms.

There are many types of this addiction, including gambling; investing; compulsive sexual behaviors like viewing pornographic material or having multiple affairs; hoarding behavior and eating disorders.

Types of process addiction can be categorized into four different groups:

1. Substance use disorder related to substances that are not illegal, such as alcohol or drugs other than narcotics.

2. Process addiction connected with occupations, such as gambling and investing.

3. Pathological process addiction.

4. Other process addiction categories, including sex related processes, hoarding behaviors and eating disorders


When a person has a substance abuse disorder (SUD), it is a mental disorder that could involve the compulsive use of substances, such as drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse may be diagnosed when someone has at least three or four symptoms in one of the following categories:

1) Intoxication, withdrawal symptoms, or problems related to substance use.

2) Mental health problems that are caused by using substances and continue after stopping their use.

3) Social problems that are caused by using substances and continue after stopping their use.

4) Legal problems related to substance use, such as driving while intoxicated or being arrested

Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction is classified as one of the different types of process addictions. A person with this type of addiction will engage in shopping behaviors that are excessive and out-of-control, with an inability to stop or control their spending.

Some of the characteristics that are common among those who suffer from shopping addiction include:

-A compulsion to buy certain items or brands, even if they do not need the item

-Excessive amounts of money spent on shopping sprees and/or a continuous cycle of buying things

-Feeling guilty or ashamed about their shopping habits

A person can be addicted to shopping for both material items and experiences. When someone has this type of addiction, they experience feelings of romance, excitement, and pleasure that are associated with shopping.

Food Addiction

Food addiction is a type of process addiction that can be difficult to identify. Addiction to food is often difficult for people to recognize because it does not affect the body like other addictions. It can be emotional and physical. A person can be addicted to eating for both emotional and physical reasons. Emotional reasons can include anxiety and depression, while physical addiction may stem from a variety of medical conditions such as celiac disease and diabetes.

Different types of Food addiction Behaviours:

-Compulsive overeating

-Eating when not hungry or fasting for extended periods of time to avoid food cravings

-Eating to relieve stress or boredom

-Eating to manage symptoms of a psychological condition

Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is one of the most common process addictions. People with gambling addiction have lost their jobs, savings and even homes to gambling. The person often gambles as a way of escaping from the real world.

Gambling addiction is classified as an impulse control disorder, which means that it has a compulsive quality to it. It can be difficult for many people with this type of addiction to control their behavior, which can lead them to spend more time gambling than they should.

This addiction is the result of a combination of biological and environmental factors.

Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is when someone has an obsession with sex, and engages in sexual activity to the point where it causes harm to themselves or others.

It’s a pattern of compulsive behaviour that can become so powerful that it dictates a person’s day-to-day activities. Whether this is sex, gambling or shopping, addiction can lead to serious consequences

Gaming Addiction

A process addiction is a generalized term for addictions to an activity or behavior that provides some form of escape from one’s problems. Gaming addiction is a type of this addiction that can involve computer games, mobile games, or video games such as MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games). It is characterized by impaired control over gaming, which can interfere with other life activities.

Heavy gamers often experience symptoms that are similar to those of substance abuse disorders such as withdrawal symptoms when they stop playing, and can also develop codependency.

Video Game addiction can involve computer games, mobile games, or console video games. It is characterized by impaired control over gaming which can interfere with other life activities. Games people play have been developed to be more addicting by rewarding those who continue playing with a sense of achievement, and this can lead to addiction as the person continues playing without realizing the negative consequences.

Process Addiction Signs and Symptoms

When the person’s behavior or activity becomes their focus and they neglect other areas of their life, it falls under behavioral addiction and process addiction.

These activities may be destructive, such as gambling, or a person may develop an obsessive need to do the activity. The addiction is not only to the substance or behavior but also in their obsession with it and how they feel when they do it.

Some common symptoms that a person may have with this type of addiction, include withdrawal symptoms.It causes people to neglect other areas of their lives. These behaviors may be destructive, such as with gambling or gaming, where excessive time is spent to do the activity and other aspects of daily life such as eating, personal hygiene and work are neglected.

Process Addiction Signs

Process addictions are any behaviors that people obsessively engage in, despite the harm it does to themselves or others. The signs and symptoms can manifest differently from person-to-person, but there are several commonalities.

First, it’s important to note that people with process addictions often engage in the behavior compulsively and usually experience withdrawal when they stop.

They may also experience a high during the behavior.

Furthermore, they may have had trauma in their past that led them to start this addiction as an escape mechanism  from reality.

Process addictions are often accompanied by other mental illnesses, such as depression. Other symptoms are characterized by the inability to develop healthy relationships, persistently procrastinating on important tasks or obligations, and engaging in excessive risk-taking behavior (e.g., gambling, reckless driving). 

Process Addiction Causes

Process addiction is not caused by any one thing. It can be the result of a variety of factors, such as: environmental influences (e.g., substance abuse), childhood trauma, and past relationship experiences. People with process addiction often have a history of childhood trauma and past romantic relationships that were unsuccessful or abusive. They may have a genetic predisposition to addiction.

This kind of addiction involves disruption in neurochemical systems, such as decreasing dopamine levels and increasing serotonin levels. These disruptions can result in a person turning to the addictive process for temporary relief, which becomes an addiction.

Process Addiction Statistics in the UK

Process addiction statistics in the UK are not well documented, but it is estimated that they affect around 10 million people.

Process Addiction Treatment

The treatment for process addiction is not well understood, but it can be achieved through different means. There are two types of process addictions: behavioral and substance abuse.

Behavioral treatments for process addiction issues include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapies and behavioral interventions. Behavioral treatments can help people change their thoughts and behaviors to become happier in the long term. The goals of behavioral therapy is to change behaviors and thoughts so that long-term happiness is more attainable.

Behavioral addiction treatment consists of three different types of therapies:

– Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which teaches clients to recognize and change their thoughts that may be feeding into the addiction.

– Motivational Enhancement Therapies, which helps people develop a reason to stop their addiction.

– Supportive Therapy, which helps the client stay on track with recovery and use healthy coping skills for difficult situations.

Different types of behavioral treatments are necessary because there are many different types of addiction.

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