If you find yourself struggling to quit a certain activity or behavior, such as gambling, shopping or playing video games, you may be experiencing a process addiction. Process addiction is discussed way less than substance addiction and as a result, there are many common misconceptions surrounding the condition. We’ve outlined several false beliefs that people hold about process addiction, along with the truths behind the illness.
Process Addiction Isn’t a Real Addiction
Some people believe that process addiction can’t be a “real” addiction because there is no substance, such as drugs or alcohol, for the body to be physically dependent on. In fact, there’s been plenty of research conducted about the validity of process addictions that has found that they affect the brain in a very similar way to substance addictions. People with a process addiction will build tolerance and go through withdrawal, just as someone addicted to drugs or alcohol would.
You Can Change Your Behavior Every Time
Some people believe that those with a process addiction can just stop their addictive behavior any time. If it was that simple, it wouldn’t be an addiction! People with a process addiction experience cravings so strong that they override the brain’s signals to make a rational decision, such as the decision to stop the problematic behavior.
Only Certain Activities Can Be Addictive
Some people believe that only certain behaviors, such as gambling or eating, can be addictive. In fact, any activity or behavior that has become the major focus of one’s life—to the point where they have neglected responsibilities and begun to harm themselves or others physically, emotionally or socially—can be classified as a process addiction.
Only Weak People Develop Process Addictions
It’s a common belief that only people who have low self-esteem, lack a strong sense of self or have little to no self-motivation become process addicts. However, process addiction does not discriminate; people of any age, race, sex, lifestyle, class or temperament can become process addicts. While there are some factors that can put some people at a higher risk of developing a process addiction than others (such as a family history of addiction or a mental illness), anyone can become an addict.
Treatment For Process Addiction Doesn’t Exist
Some people believe that treatment doesn’t exist for process addictions. Luckily, there are plenty of effective treatment options for process addicts that can help a person recover from their addiction and live a healthy and normal life. Some treatments focus on total abstinence from the process behavior as a means of recovery, while others focus on the elimination of compulsive, unhealthy involvement in the process. The latter is especially necessary for processes like eating and the internet, where total abstinence is not possible or feasible. Visiting specialists or therapists, enrolling in a process addiction treatment program or prescription medication can help improve the effectiveness of treatment and recovery.
Feature Image: Maciej Korsan