The Dangers of Process Addictions

When you first hear the term addiction, chances are that your mind wanders immediately to substance addictions. Addictions to drugs, alcohol, and even herbal supplements are often considered the most dangerous problems treated at San Diego drug treatment centers.

And, while these addictions are certainly dangerous, there are other forms of addiction that can present problems as well. These types of addictions are known as process addictions or behavioral addictions.

These addictions don’t cause the same risk of overdose or physical dependence, but they can cause some similar changes in the brain as other addictions. Many San Diego drug treatment centers are equipped to treat process addictions as well.


What Are Process Addictions?

Process addictions are marked by the compulsive or habitual repetition of certain behaviors or actions. In most cases, the addictive behaviors elicit some sort of pleasurable response in the brain.

  • Sex addiction. Sex addiction is a broad term that can describe addiction to sex itself, addiction to masturbation, addiction to pornography, or even an addiction to love a random.
  • Gambling addiction is another very common form of process addiction.
  • Eating addiction.
  • Exercise addiction. People can become addicted to the endorphin rush following exercise and continue to work out despite overworking their bodies.

Recognizing a Process Addiction

So, how can you tell whether you are struggling with a process addiction? Where do you draw the line between a healthy habit and an addiction? Not surprisingly, many of the symptoms that indicate a process addiction are similar to the symptoms of a regular addiction.

Here are some signs and symptoms of a process addiction.

  • Repeatedly engaging in certain behaviors despite the emergence of negative outcomes.
  • Neglecting your hobbies or responsibilities in order to engage in these addictive behaviors.
  • Changing your social life or avoiding social commitments in order to follow your addictive behaviors.
  • Deciding that you would like to stop engaging in a particular activity or behavior but being unable to do so.
  • Finding yourself frequently preoccupied with thoughts about this behavior throughout the day.


Dangers of Process Addiction

Even though process addictions don’t involve the consumption of actual drugs or alcohol, you might be surprised to learn that they can cause a number of similar changes in the brain.

If there is a common thread among most addictive behaviors, it is that they generally elicit a pleasurable feeling. In most cases, this pleasurable feeling is caused by the dopamine system.

The dopamine system is hardwired for feelings of pleasure when we do something exciting or good for us. In healthy people, this reward will encourage a healthy repetition of this activity.

Unfortunately, in the case of addiction, this moderation becomes habitual. It becomes the focus of the individual’s life to seek these pleasurable behaviors at all costs.

As this happens, the brain’s pleasure system gets overwhelmed by constantly being bombarded. The brain tries to defend itself against this bombardment by desensitizing the reward system.

When this happens, it becomes harder for people to enjoy getting pleasure from regular activities. This creates the standard cycle of addiction wherein people constantly seek more and more intense behaviors. This allows them to get the same dopamine response.


Conclusion – Managing Process Addictions

Fortunately, many rehab centers are well-equipped to manage process addictions. The treatment of process addictions is often quite similar to the treatment of substance addictions.

If you’re interested in managing a process addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out to a rehab center. Connect with San Diego drug treatment centers to learn more.

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