A process addiction is when a favorite pastime becomes problematic. Instead of indulging periodically in moderation with your favorite things, they become excessive and destructive. Some examples of process addictions include eating, exercise, gambling, sex, video gaming, shopping, and pornography. Each of these behaviors may supplement your lifestyle and bring joy, but when we engage with these activities in excess or for self-medication, we may have a larger problem. When your default approach to coping with life stressors can have negative consequences down the line, it may be time to reevaluate.
Sometimes called behavioral addictions, process addictions have some similarities and some differences when compared with substance addictions. While they tend not to have the physical side effects that substance addictions have, they have a similar tendency to draw the user in with a state of euphoria. Both processes are associated with readily identifiable triggers.
What is Your Trigger to Engage?
- Feeling depressed: When you are feeling down or hopeless, do you lean on the activity? For example, after experiencing loss, do you have an urge to consume? Do you find it comforting?
- Feeling anxious: When you are stressed out with professional or personal obligations, do you seek this activity out as an outlet? Do you tend to avoid responsibility by overeating, engaging in risky sexual behavior, overspending, or spending more time interfacing with technology?
- Desire to numb: When feeling depressed or anxious, does this activity serve the role of numbing your pain? Do you feel yourself compartmentalizing away from the difficult emotion with the temporary release of dopamine?
How Much Time Do You Spend on the Activity?
Keep a log of how many hours you spend each day on the activity. If the time you spend doing it overrides the time you spend on work or with family, this constitutes a red flag. Take this as a sign to look out for other warning signs.
- Have you noticed physical consequences like excessive weight gain from overeating or lack of sexual stimulation with your partner because you have been watching too much pornography?
- Have you noticed financial consequences like losing college tuition or rent from shopping too much or gambling away your earnings?
- Have you received complaints from loved ones about your excessive habits that give you a sense of guilt?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to consider getting help for a possible process addiction.
Seek Help from a Trained Professional
Getting help from a trained professional is possible. If you are at all concerned that you may have developed a process addiction, seek help. There are therapists trained in working with individuals who have developed process addictions.
Everyone finds ways to self-medicate. If you have developed a process addiction, the activity you’ve chosen as a medication is not working for you. Giving someone else the opportunity to intervene can help you overcome your addiction.
Part of the road to recovery involves identifying a possible underlying disorder. If there are medications and evidence-based therapies for your condition, that could be a healthier alternative for you. This is why it is so crucial to speak with a trained professional. They will be able to diagnose you appropriately if necessary.
Identify an Underlying Disorder
You might be struggling with a concurrent mental health diagnosis. Most people fall at different points on the depression-anxiety spectrum throughout their lifetime. Make sure you are opening up with your mental health provider about where your thoughts are fixated. They will likely have solutions for you.
Once you have a diagnosis you are comfortable with and appropriate tools to deal with that diagnosis, you may find relief in a way that does not so negatively impact those around you. Often just engaging with the opportunity to talk to a trained professional may be enough. Explaining your situation is a great way to recognize patterns and understand underlying triggers. Be sure to forgive yourself for any missteps. We are all trying our best with the tools provided to us at each moment. That is enough.
Replace the Activity with Self-Care
Taking time away from your process addiction to participate in genuine self-care can make all the difference. By prioritizing yourself and your needs, you can learn about yourself in a healthy environment. You will be able to create stability for yourself when you start making self-care a new priority to replace the negative behavior.
Examples of healthy coping activities include journaling, meditation, participating in group sessions, and speaking with your therapist. Process disorders are a traumatic experience to endure, but there is a pathway out. During this time of healing, you can get in touch with who you are after enduring this trauma.
Process or behavioral health disorders are quite common. About 1 in 4 Americans struggle with a diagnosed mental health condition. Even more people are struggling who have not been diagnosed. Getting help is possible. With centers like Valiant Living, you can reclaim your life from your addiction. At our men-only facility in Denver, Colorado you can focus on the areas of your life you are most proud of while leaving behind areas associated with shame and guilt. We are here to uplift you. In our residential setting, you can both enjoy the outdoors and practice self-care in our various, comforting facilities. We offer a variety of resources to assist you every step of the way. We focus our attention on men struggling with process addictions, drug and alcohol addiction, as well as co-occurring mental health issues. Call us at (303) 952-5035 to learn more about how we can help.