Treatment for Process Addiction

WHAT IS A PROCESS/BEHAVIOURAL ADDICTION?

In moderation most processes and behaviours can be healthy and normal: Work, love, risk taking, sex, exercise, spending etc. For instance, many people have a need to use the internet for connection, work, education or recreational reasons and this can be a useful and productive tool. 

However, individuals can become more reliant on a specific process and use it as a way to cope or escape from life. In some cases it can be perceived necessary for someone to function. 

Many gaming addictions for example, provide an emotional and mental release from the rigours of daily life and therefore can become an essential tool in dealing with emotional or practical hardships.

Process addictions can be easy to mask as the behaviour in isolation may appear innocent or at least culturally acceptable. In some cases it may even be perceived as necessary. 

Everyone needs to work to put bread on the table – How could that be unhealthy? 

The reality is that work can reach a point where it consumes every aspect of a person’s thinking. It can be perceived as a tool to manage:

  • Anxiety (the more I work, the more I earn and the less anxious I become)
  • Low self esteem (the more I work the better people will think of me)
  • As an escape (if I am working all the time I won't have to think about my problems or feel my emotions)

These belief systems in conjunction with obsessive thought can have a binding effect, impinging on quality of life, health (mental, emotional and physical), relationships, finances and outlook. 

All of these motivations are regarded as unhealthy in the extreme.

HOW TO IDENTIFY PROCESS OR BEHAVIOURAL ADDICTIONS

These behaviours are normal and healthy up to a point; after which they can be seen as a way to cope, escape and even function. Usually a choice is made in favour of a certain action with consideration and in an attempt to make life more comfortable. 

It is only when the behaviour regularly becomes impulsive and leads to negative consequences (which are regularly ignored) that it may be deemed an addiction.

Addiction affects every facet of the human condition, body, mind, soul, relationships, liberty, self worth, sense of purpose and finances. As obsessive thinking and physical compulsion gain strength free choice is removed. There comes a point where willpower and self-control are no longer a defence. 

Many are often distinguished by the effect that the compulsion has on a person’s life and functioning. There is an overwhelming need to continue in a self-defeating pattern of behaviour even when it is having a detrimental effect on work, relationships, liberty, other interests, mental or physical health and causing remorse, secrecy and shame.

The longer these behaviours are able to continue the greater the level of denial as with any compulsive disorder.

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