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Process Addictions

Process Addictions

Process addictions (also called behavior addictions) have become more and more prevalent in the 21st century. Although they do not include consumption of a substance like typical drug addiction, the “reward system” in the brain is essentially the same. The client gets a “high” from the behavior – a reward from the brain – and compulsively continues the behavior despite its negative consequences, such as a failing marriage, deteriorating health, loss of work, family problems, loss of money, etc.

There are many types of process addictions including gambling, pornography, sex or love addiction, shopping or shoplifting, videogaming, food, exercise, and more.

In many cases, those with process addictions may experience remorse or guilt following the behavior but cannot control the impulse to do it again.

Like other addiction treatment, the treatment of process addictions relies heavily on evidence-based psychotherapies. For some process addictions (such as food, sex, or shopping addiction), “exposure therapy” may also be used to train the client on impulse coping strategies in real-time.