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Are Process Addictions Medically Recognized?

Are Process Addictions Medically Recognized?

Behavioral addictions warrant immediate professional help

While most people can experience pleasure without craving it, addicts can get hooked into wanting more and more pleasure with irresistible urges. Addicts feel an intense mental and emotional craving for the euphoria that a substance or behavior creates, and experts say the biochemical basis for this cycle is in a cluster of nerve cells beneath the cerebral hemisphere of the brain. An action that satisfies a need or fulfills a desire triggers the release of dopamine in this location, which creates a reward pathway; the brain records this reward, so the pathway becomes reinforced, which means the brain rewires itself to repeat the pleasurable behavior.

Healthcare professionals have identified drugs and alcohol as addictive substances that are capable of changing the brain changes for years to come. However, the medical community now recognizes that the same chemistry operates in the following conditions:
• Video gaming
• Web surfing
• Sex
• Porn
• Gambling
• Anorexia
• Bulimia
• Compulsive eating
• Exercise
• Work
• Falling in love
• Relationships

Some people wrongly view process addictions as weaker than substance abuse disorders. They may think of alcoholism or drug addiction as more life threatening, and sometimes this assessment is accurate, but not always. The truth is that a shopping or porn problem can wreak havoc on life, so behavioral addictions warrant immediate professional help. In fact, process addictions can cause the following problems:
• Extreme fatigue
• Financial ruin
• Broken relationships
• Legal problems
• Poor health
• Loss of life

Despite the fact that the medical community recognizes process addictions as legitimate disorders, many people continue to minimize the destructive potential of these problems. One reason for this is that process addictions can be difficult to define. Many people have habits that gobble up significant portions of free time, but process addicts display a recurring inability to control the behavior, meaning they participate in it despite damaging consequences. Other red flags of process addictions include the following problems:
• Difficulty controlling impulses in general, sometimes classified as an impulse control disorder
• Repeating behaviors despite significant consequences
• Feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety or high stress
• Problems sustaining relationships
• Hiding or lying about impulsive habits
• Taking increasingly big risks

Knowing what to look for is a critical way to safeguard your health. People who take process addictions lightly often avoid treatment in the early stages of the disorder, which means before negative consequences result in long-term damage. In contrast, people who seek help early on maximize their chances for a full recovery. With help, process addicts can launch lives of wholeness, peace and emotional health.

Treatment for Process Addictions

If you or a loved one suffers from a process addiction, we can help. Admissions coordinators are available right now at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to guide you to wellness and affordable treatment. Please call today for instant help.