People associate addiction with drug and alcohol use. However, it’s actually more widespread than that. For example, there are things like process addictions. What are process addictions? They are the lesser-known forms of addiction that focus more on psychological compulsion than actual physical dependence. If you or a loved one has a process addiction, please reach out to our mental health addiction treatment center for help.
What is Addiction?
An excellent place to start learning about process addictions is by taking a look at a basic definition of addiction. The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as a complex brain disease that leads to compulsive behavior. Such definitions focus on substance abuse disorder and alcohol use disorder, but there are more addictions.
For example, some people become addicted to gambling, some to video games. And, as you’ve probably heard more and more lately, you can even develop an addiction to eating. In short, any behavior that stimulates the reward center of the brain is a good candidate for a potential addiction.
No matter the addiction, they all share certain common characteristics. Generally speaking, these addictions involve a person developing an intense attraction to something that can become detrimental to his or her mental and physical health. Additionally, the person’s brain chemistry is altered in such a way that they have difficulty controlling their urges and behaviors related to the addiction. Finally, a person may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop the behavior or decrease their involvement in it.
For example, someone with an addiction to drugs or alcohol may feel intense cravings when they attempt to cease using the substance. This can lead them to seek out more of the substance in an effort to reduce their withdrawal symptoms, furthering their struggle with addiction.
Process addictions generally follow a similar pattern; however, they do not involve substances and therefore require a different approach for recognizing and treating them. That’s why it’s important to understand the basics of these types of addictions and how they can be managed with professional help.
How Does the Reward Center Work?
When asking, “What are process addictions?” the answer is found in the reward center. In many ways, addiction hijacks this part of the brain and doesn’t let go.
The reward center or pleasure center of the brain floods a tiny spot in the middle of the organ called the nucleus accumbens with dopamine, a chemical that makes you feel good. Your body obviously likes feeling good. Therefore, the hippocampus creates a memory of this feeling and how you got it for future reference. That’s how you figure out and remember things you like (and dislike). In essence, you have a very positive association with anything that makes your body feel good.
Drugs and certain behaviors can trigger the release of dopamine, too. Your body creates a rewarding path and records a memory of the pleasurable feeling. The desire to recreate that pleasurable feeling can be intense. After a while, the need for that pleasure takes over despite the consequences like missed work or used savings.
At that point, individuals must figure out a better way to live where they are no longer overwhelmed by these potentially crippling addictions. Drug and alcohol rehab programs in OR provide a way to live a better sober life.
What are Process Addictions?
Process addictions are activities or actions that make you feel that pleasure. These can including the following:
- Spending money
- Video games
- Internet porn
All of these activities and actions stimulate the reward center and can become addictive.
What is the Difference Between Drug and Process Addictions?
Drug and alcohol addiction involves a physical dependency to a chemical. Process addictions are just about getting that reward.
The body doesn’t withdraw from an addiction to sex or eating the same it does from drugs or alcohol. That doesn’t mean there isn’t withdrawal from process addictions. However, the withdrawal is more psychological than physical. You fight the same urges as someone who takes drugs, although you don’t have the physical side effects of withdrawal like vomiting or seizures.
Are Process Addictions New?
The concept of process addictions has been around for decades and their compulsive behaviors for centuries. They weren’t, however, well known among members of the general public. Process addictions are more accepted and known today, due in part to the level of information readily available on the internet.
What is the Treatment for a Process Addiction?
Addiction treatment is primarily behavior modification, so it works for process addictions, too. Many treatment facilities like Crestview Recovery may handle process addictions as well as substance abuse.
Crestview Recovery sits in an area where rehabs are more challenging to find. As a result, we see clients from all over the Pacific NW, including Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
Crestview Recovery primarily handles substance abuse treatment. Our services include:
- Partial hospitalization
- Intensive outpatient treatment
- Outpatient care
- Dual diagnosis therapy
- Individual therapy
- Trauma therapy
Our facility has 30 beds available and works with men and women 18 years old or older. Residential and outpatient rehab programs in Oregon are available based on your recovery needs.
Crestview Recovery has joint commission accreditation, and we offer extended care, meaning over 90 days for certain treatment programs.
There is more to Crestview Recovery than your traditional treatment programs like behavior modification or cognitive behavioral therapy. While there, you can enjoy a fabulous environment and amenities like white water rafting, skiing, and snowboarding.
If you are still asking, “What are process addictions?” or think you need some form of treatment, give us a call at 866.262.0531. Above all, we are here to help you get answers.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.