What is a Process Addiction?

What is a Process Addiction?

Process addictions are a form of behavioral addiction that is typically associated with obsessive or compulsive behavior. Gambling, sexual addiction, eating disorders, and addiction surrounding your jobs or hobbies (even Facebook) are all common types of process addictions.

Experts in the field of behavioral science believe that any activity that stimulates the human mind and activates the pleasure centers of the brain can become an addiction. The same researchers also believe that their are numerous similarities between substance abuse and process addictions, such as compulsive gambling or risky sexual behavior, and most of these similarities are found in which the brain processes information from external stimuli.

How Process Addiction Works

Much like substance abuse – or any addiction really – the addict activates the pleasure centers of the mind and releases a flood of dopamine and serotonin to the neurotransmitters of the brain when they engage in the behavior that defines their process addiction. So, much like an alcoholic or a drug addict, the mind begins to crave the same substance (or process) that caused the pleasurable feelings, which often leads to dangerous or misguided behavior in an attempt to pacify these urges.

What started as pleasurable and even relatively normal behavior can quickly become compulsive when repeated in excess. Compulsion takes on many forms, but it is most regularly described as the persistent desire to repeat a once pleasant act that now no longer necessarily leads to any type of reward.

For example, while a few games of Blackjack at the local casino can be a great deal of fun for some, for others it’s a nightmarish compulsion that leads to highs and lows that most of us will never experience in the same way as a person with a process disorder.

While winning leads to a rush of endorphins from the release of serotonin and dopamine, losing often leads to depressive behavior that leads the user to chase losses in an attempt to come out ahead. Due to the house edge, this rarely happens, and it leaves the compulsive gambler to continue gambling aimlessly while believing he or she is within sight of the finish line – or breaking even/making a profit. In reality, this typically isn’t the case, and the compulsive behavior of the process addiction often leads to huge monetary losses, familial issues, problems on the job, and significant mental health problems.

Risks Associated with Process Addiction

Risks associated with process addiction often revolve around the compulsive behavior itself. For example, a problem gambler might gamble more money than they have to lose, putting themselves, and their family in dire financial situations before ever realizing there is a problem. Divorce, job loss, and interpersonal problems are also common.

Due to the persistent urge to gamble, other once important things now fall by the wayside while the compulsion takes over the life of the addict.

While gambling was the primary example used to explain the concept, it’s certainly not alone when it comes to problems associated with process addiction. Just about anything that you derive pleasure from can ultimately manifest itself as the leading contributor to a process addiction and cause severe problems as you fall deeper and deeper into it.

How Can Prescott House Help?

Prescott House is a men’s inpatient rehabilitation center that has trained professionals on staff that study the newest findings and treatment options for those with any type of process addiction. As such, our qualified staff can help you regain a sense of normalcy through careful diagnosis and expert treatment.

If you or a loved one needs help, contact our friendly staff at Prescott House today to find out how we can help.


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dave_freyDave Frey —Director of Admissions

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