Process addiction is a term that is unofficially used to describe addictions which form around certain behaviors or activities like shopping, having sex, eating, watching porn, or playing video games. These types of addictions may seem more psychological than anything else, but they are still addictions that, on a deeper level, produce alterations to the brain just like substances. Learn more about process addictions and how they impact thinking and behavior.
Human brains are bundles of neurons that sit close together but do not actually touch. They communicate with other neurons and produce chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. When a neurotransmitter reaches another neuron, it triggers electrical changes that increase or decrease activity levels within that cell. Dozens of different chemicals act like neurotransmitters and trigger changes in the brain. These changes occur when using substances and can change the way a person thinks or behaves.
Process Addiction and the Brain
People who struggle with alcohol and drug addictions do not set out to become addicted. They engage in activities that seem harmless but they they gradually lose control as the brain changes. Process addictions start simple enough, but through involvement in other activities they begin to take a hold of a person’s life such as:
- Shopping without being able to control spending
- Buying more than you need
- Feeling excited when you hit the shop button and feeling shame after
- Gambling more than you can afford
- Sexual activity that takes over your thinking everyday (porn, etc)
Engagement in any of these activities and other similar ones can increase the brain’s levels of dopamine and trigger feelings of pleasure. By consciously seeking rewards through this behavior, people unwittingly feed into the process addiction, altering the dopamine pathways in their brain.
Process addictions are addictions just like using drugs or drinking alcohol. The treatment for them is individualized to support the person’s experiences but there is likelihood that substance use co-occurs along with these addictions with possible mental health issues popping up as well. This is why it is good to seek out holistic treatment options which tackle the whole problem mind, body, and spirit. If a person is able to seek support in this way, there is a good chance of finding help for their journey of recovery.
Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.