Some Familiar Faces
If you take a look at a list of twelve-step meetings, you’ll see entries for plenty of familiar faces. Alcohol, narcotics, cocaine, crystal meth, and other substances all have their own recovery fellowships. But so, too, do sex, food, and gambling. Can people really become addicted to these things? And if they can, is it the same kind of addiction as that to substances? The short answer to both questions is yes. Those groups are helping people to recover from process addictions. Furthermore, those who are recovering from substance abuse issues should monitor those processes with some special attention.
What is Process Addiction?
Process addictions at their root aren’t much different from substance addiction. In fact, in 2011, the American Society of Addiction Medicine broadened their definition of addiction to include them. Process, or behavioral addiction, is the compulsion to engage in a behavior repeatedly, even in the face of negative consequences. This is almost the exact definition of substance abuse. The only difference is that with process addictions, there are no mood-altering drugs like heroin or alcohol involved. However, despite this, brain chemistry still plays a factor in behavioral addictions. Just as in substance abuse disorders, the brain’s reward system and impulsivity come into play. Indeed, this is what leads scientists and researchers to believe that process addictions have a genetic component similar to that of SUDs.
Some Common Behavioral Addictions
Given the definition, any behavior could technically be the focus of a process addiction, provided it meets the requirements. However, some are far more common than others. Gambling, sex, pornography, shopping, and the Internet/social media are a few that we see the most often. Furthermore, these often occur alongside a traditional substance abuse disorder. For example, studies show that 73% of people with a gambling disorder also suffer from alcoholism. These problems can also persist, or even manifest, after an individual has left the substances behind. Think back to some of our previous blogs, specifically those on maladaptive behaviors. For example, often folks in recovery, specifically early recovery, will start to use the gym maladaptively. They essentially trade one addiction for the other. And while those with process addictions don’t usually feel physical withdrawal symptoms, they can experience severe anxiety when they can’t engage in their behavior of choice.
Build a Foundation for Hope
The treatment for process addiction is very similar to that of substance abuse disorders and a good dual diagnosis facility will treat both concurrently. Ocean Recovery, a dual diagnosis facility in Newport Beach, California, has been successfully treating addiction since 2002. We offer individual and group counseling, addiction education, yoga, and more, attacking addiction from all angles by treating the whole person. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please consider giving Ocean Recovery a call today. Our admissions specialists are standing by and ready to help you start building your foundation for success.