“What are process addictions? And how can I overcome them?”
“What are process addictions? And how can I overcome them?”
by admin | January 24, 2023 | Aware | 2 comments

“What are process addictions? And how can I overcome them?”

Addictions can come in all sizes and shapes. Many of us know of substance abuse situations like drinking, smoking, or taking drugs. But, we may not be equally aware of many other types of dependencies – or take them seriously.

There are so many people who get overly habituated to the Internet, gaming, shopping, binge eating, over-exercising, and so on. These are all types of process addictions (or behavioral addictions, as they are often called). These fixations can be debilitating – and need help.

Those with such behavior may find their engagement with the objects of their obsession excessive or compulsive, affecting them mentally or physically. They may also stop being responsible towards their families, jobs, or other commitments.

Usually, people with such orientations continue with their ways because they find them rewarding psychologically. They may get an adrenaline rush while engaged in their activities. But invariably, they later feel guilt, remorse, or anguish due to the consequences of their choices.

Unfortunately, people afflicted with such behavioral tendencies may be unable to stop unless they get timely support from their friends and family – or even treatment from professional counselors. This article aims to provide more insight into the problem and offer some solution directions.


What are the most common process addictions? What causes them?

Some classic types include:


  • Internet addiction
  • Exercise addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Work addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Video game addiction


But, why do these addictions occur? There are interesting theories. Most prominent among these ideas are the following:


  • A person’s genetic, societal, and environmental factors can influence the development of certain neurotic pulls.
  • The jolt of excitement that people addicted to certain patterns of behavior feel, when the reward pathways in their brains are stimulated, reinforces engagement in such actions.
  • Past trauma or neglect, stress, or unhappy home life could also be contributing causes.
  • Outside stresses can also have an impact. People may engage in certain alluring repetitive actions to alleviate job or home stress, or other negative emotions.
  • Finally, compulsive behaviors may result from co-occurring mental health conditions. In such cases, a mix of symptoms tends to complicate the issue.


Interestingly, according to Christopher M. Olsen, Ph.D., in his medical paper in the National Library of Medicine, a gene transcription factor known as ΔFosB has been identified as a necessary common factor involved in both behavioral compulsions and drug abuse. The author says this gene transcription factor is associated with the same set of action-reward neural patterns in all types of chronic mental tyrannies.


How prevalent is the process addiction problem? What does the research say?

The prevalence of these psychological problems seems only to be growing.




“Crossing the threshold between regular shopping and an inability to stop”.



These are just a few trend patterns that validate what psychologists are seeing … the growth of such mental captivity to certain action patterns is not limited to gender, geography, or age. And, more people are becoming aware and concerned that they may have such problems.


What are the visible signs and symptoms of process addictions?

Typical signs and symptoms include these:


  • Spending excessive time thinking about or participating in the behavior
  • Continuing in the behavior despite internal and external consequences
  • Trouble stopping a behavior, with many unsuccessful attempts to stop it
  • Neglecting occupational, academic, home, and family responsibilities
  • Suffering emotional withdrawal when the behavior is stopped or avoided
  • Having anxiety, irritability, and depression after the behavior is halted



“Having anxiety, irritability, and depression after process addictions are halted”.



Are process addictions similar to substance abuse?

While compulsive process engagement and substance use disorder are independent conditions, in many instances they can overlap. These two types of bondage can also feed off each other when a person switches back and forth between them.

According to the Turning Point of Tampa, a noted de-addiction facility, “Although process addiction and substance addiction are different disorders, they frequently co-occur, which is referred to as a ‘dual diagnosis.’ For the best chance of long-term recovery, both conditions must be treated at the same time. Each disorder needs to be addressed fully, along with any potential interactions between the two conditions.”


Can process addictions contribute to major ailments or ill-health?

Being trapped in any mental malady causes much eventual stress. And stress can add many complications to those suffering from ailments like obesity, cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension – along with other hereditary factors. All these ailments can have a multiplicative effect on the heart.

Awareness of high diabetes symptoms, causes of blood pressure, the proper diet to control cholesterol, and getting an obesity diagnosis – all these are imperatives for overall health and must be discussed with your doctor.


What are the treatments for process addiction?

The two most recommended treatment paths, cited by most psychologists, are the following.


1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps clients recognize “hot-button thoughts,” which trigger negative or neurotic obsessions. Once people have identified those trigger thoughts, they can then learn to change their response.

For example, watching TV idly from a particular sofa in the living room may trigger an eating binge. In such cases, CBT helps people stay alert and anticipate these triggers or take proactive action against them. A CBT expert may recommend watching TV seated on a different chair, or stopping TV watching altogether at certain vulnerable time periods when eating binges normally occur.


2. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectic means two or more opposite or conflicting ideas that exist and interact. In DBT, psychiatrists guide clients to tolerate and live with opposites – such as acceptance of the past and change in the future.

For example, people can learn to accept their past behaviors and simultaneously understand the need for healthy change. Disassociation between the past and present has to be established. Otherwise, people may feel regretful for their past habit-forming behaviors, causing them to head towards other compensatory excesses in the future.


In summary

Anything done beyond a reasonable limit, and having negative consequences on ourselves or others around us, are behaviors to be wary of. We can never know when seemingly simple activities can turn into enslaving pressures, especially when many other stresses are plaguing our lives. Stay grounded and moderate in behavior for overall good health. Stay heart-healthy. Be a Zinda Dil.




  1. Olsen, Cristopher M. National Library of Medicine. “Natural Rewards, Neuroplasticity, and Non-Drug Addictions.” Accessed: January 21, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3139704/
  2. Wittek, Charlotte Thoresen, et al. International Journal Of Mental Health And Addiction. “Prevalence and Predictors of Video Game Addiction: A Study Based on a National Representative Sample of Gamers.” Accessed: January 21, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5023737/
  3. Sussman, Steven. International Journal Of Addiction Research And Therapy. “Workaholism: A Review.” Accessed: January 21, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3835604/
  4. Pursey, Kirrilly M, et al. Nutrients. “The Prevalence of Food Addiction as Assessed by the Yale Food Addiction Scale: A Systematic Review.” Accessed: January 21, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4210934/
  5. de la Vega, Ricardo, et al. Journal Of Behavioral Addictions. “Exercise Addiction in Athletes and Leisure Exercisers: The Moderating Role of Passion.” Accessed: January 21, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5387784/
  6. Rachubińska, Kamila, et al. Researchgate. “The relationship between loneliness, depression, internet and social media addiction among young Polish women.” Accessed: January 21, 2023. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349825491_The_relationship_between_loneliness_depression_internet_and_social_media_addiction_among_young_Polish_women
  7. Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale. Accessed: January 21, 2023. https://psychology-tools.com/test/bergen-shopping-addiction-scale
  8. Turning Point Of Tampa. “Process Addictions: Shopping, Gambling, Internet and More.” Accessed: January 21, 2023. https://www.tpoftampa.com/process-addictions/


Submit a Comment
Your email address will not be published fields are marked*

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
The field is required. Enter valid Email.