Drugs and alcohol aren’t the only way to numb your feelings. Behavioral addictions called “process addictions” can be just as powerful and destructive as addictions to substances. But what are process addictions?
Process addictions—also known as behavioral addictions—are patterns of behavior that don’t involve chemical substances.
Common examples include gambling, compulsive shopping, over-eating, sex and love addiction, gaming addiction, porn addiction, and even exercise addiction.
Of course many people engage in those activities daily, with little issue. If you’re wondering whether your behavior is a problem, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this behavior affecting your physical or mental health?
- Is this behavior having a negative effect on your personal and work relationships?
- Is this behavior causing issues in other areas of your life?
- Despite all these problems, are you finding it hard to stop?
- Many people experience process addictions on top of their substance use disorder. In some cases, getting clean and sober might make a process addiction stronger as your addiction searches for a new playing field. Especially in new sobriety, it’s important to stay mindful of this possibility.
Freedom from process addictions is possible, however.
Several 12-Step fellowships have sprung up to help people deal with these behavioral issues in the same way they can deal with addiction in AA or NA. Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous and Debtors Anonymous are some of the largest fellowships. If you’re wondering whether there’s a fellowship for you, just google. You might be surprised by what you find.
You also can work on these issues in residential treatment. In rehab, a counselor can work with you to identify ongoing issues, or stop new issues as they arise. Staff can also help you craft an aftercare plan that will help you avoid issues with process addictions, as well.