What is a Process Addiction?

Instead of using addictive substances, a process addiction involves a behavior such as sex, gambling, or eating. Any behavior that is overused in exchanged for stimulating pleasure can be described as a process addiction or behavioral addiction. Their primary instinct is to deal with their negative as well as positive circumstances by becoming reliant on a process that they perceive as enjoyment to keep their suffering to a minimum. The problem is that the dependence on these behaviors become their normal coping mechanisms instead of dealing with their issues head on.

Regardless if you are addicted to substances or behaviors, the reward center in the brain becomes stimulated with the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine. To continue to receive the satisfaction from these neurotransmitters, a person will pursue the behaviors that cause them gratification over and over. This is when compulsivity to obtain the same feelings may begin and the decline of being able to get the same comfort starts to ensue.

The main difference between substance addiction and process addiction is the physical way that drugs and alcohol deteriorate the brain at a fast pace. The brain can be severely affected with substance abuse because the brain’s neurotransmitters are depleted with the mind-altering impact that drugs and alcohol administer. The brain is still influenced with process addiction because once someone becomes addicted to the behavior, the obsession of the mind takes over to do whatever it takes to carry out some of these common process addictions.


Addiction to the act of sex will compel someone to think about or perform sex all the time possibly with multiple partners and no protection.


Filling a void with food happens often because eating is a normal part of daily life although eating large quantities of unhealthy food can take a toll on someone.


A person may start gambling with the enjoyment of the game, but the thrill of winning can make someone continue to gamble even though the odds are against them to start a never-ending cycle of losing.

Digital devices

Computers, smartphones, tablets, television, and video games are great distractions that wreck the balance people need in other forms of stimulation besides something digital.


Using shopping to escape can heighten through searching for the “perfect” item or from using the buy and return method to keep someone distracted. Many times, substance abuse and behavior abuse will go hand in hand. There is help for all addiction, including process addiction, to get back on track for a bigger purpose.


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