Process Addictions

The term “process addiction” refers to a set of addictive behaviors that are compulsive in nature and provide a modicum of emotional relief from mental health symptoms and emotional pain for addicts yet cause a slew of negative consequences. These can include:

  • Sex addiction
  • Gambling
  • Shopping addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Exercise addiction
  • Internet addiction
  • Gaming addiction

The determination of what falls into the category of process addiction is constantly evolving. The American Society of Addiction Medicine updated the definition of addiction as a medical disorder to include a range of process addiction behaviors as recently as 2011, according to a report published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Every year, new research explores the ways that process addictions alter brain chemistry and function, and how different therapeutic interventions can help patients to stabilize and move forward to build a life based on balance and wellness. At Constellation Behavioral Health, we provide intensive medical and psychotherapeutic treatment programs based on these studies to aid patients as they make their struggle with substance abuse and process addictions a thing of the past.

The Cycle of Addictive Behavior

Addiction of any kind usually creates a pattern of increasingly negative choices and consequences in a patient’s life. In general, this pattern includes the following:

  1. Emotional pain, mental health issues, or trauma
  2. Longing for relief from the symptoms or pain
  3. Preoccupation with behavior
  4. Compulsive indulgence in behavior
  5. Initial relief after addictive behavior
  6. Negative consequences of the behavior
  7. Negative emotions due to consequences
  8. More emotional pain followed by increased cravings for relief
  9. The cycle continues

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

Most patients recognize that they are shopping themselves into bankruptcy or that their food addiction is causing the obesity that in turn is leading to health problems that can be life-threatening. Decreased quality of life and associated feelings of guilt and shame only worsen the situation. But few patients are capable of pulling themselves out of the cycle of addiction and avoiding the addictive behaviors without effective medical and psychotherapeutic intervention. In order to experience real and lasting change, patients who struggle with process addictions are advised to choose a treatment program that offers:

  • Detox assistance for withdrawal symptoms associated with chronic substance abuse
  • Therapeutic intervention focused on recovery from early trauma and/or physical or sexual abuse
  • Therapeutic intervention to learn new, positive coping mechanisms to deal with stressors
  • Treatment for co-occurring mental health symptoms
  • Relapse prevention
  • Support group therapy to create a strong peer support structure
  • Family therapy to gain the right kind of help from those at home
  • Aftercare services that continue to provide accountability and support to the patient during the first years of recovery

Building a Solid Foundation

Recovery from an addiction of any kind takes years to establish. Those who are in the first years of recovery after living with an active addiction require intensive support from all sides. The more intensive that support, the more integrative the therapy, and the more personalized the treatment plan, the more likely it is that the patient will be able to build a strong foundation in their new life.

Learn more about the types of treatment and care offered by rehabilitation programs in the Constellation Behavioral Health network by contacting our Alta Mira Treatment Center.