- Feb 24
The term “process addiction” refers to activities and behaviors that are addictive for certain individuals. A process addiction develops when the brain is activated to produce pleasant feelings whenever an action is engaged, making an individual more likely to repeat that activity in the future. The pleasurable sensations produced are the same as those produced when one uses a drug, which leads to addiction in the long run.
Most people are aware of the numerous types of process addictions, even if they don’t know how they are classified. Some examples of process addictions include:
There are many other activities that can become addictive, as well, but these are the most common because they tap into the reward part of the brain. The good news is that process addictions are treatable.
We all need to eat to live, so one can’t necessarily overcome an eating addiction by abandoning food altogether. Likewise, Internet use and shopping are other activities that one must engage in one way or the other. In light of this, the treatment process for process addictions should include behavioral therapy to get to the root cause of the problem and deal with it. Treatment also has to be customized because the causes of process addiction vary from one person to another.
Prevalence of Process Addictions Among the LBGTQ+ Community
The LGBTQ+ community suffers higher rates of process addiction than the general population. According to NAADAC findings, an estimated 30% of the LGBTQ+ community suffers from some form of addiction, compared to 9% of the heterosexual population. Combining substance abuse and process addiction, the rate of addiction among LGBTQ+ individuals is two to four times higher.
The higher addiction rate is partly due to the challenges LGBTQ+ individuals face in society daily, including:
- Discrimination and stigmatization
- Emotional abuse and public ridicule
- Rejection and shame from family and friends after coming out
- Loss of employment and income
- Internal self-hatred
As a result, people in the community often turn to various activities and behaviors to cope with their frustrations. Addiction to certain things can temporarily numb any bad feelings they may have, such as anger, anxiety or depression. Although process addictions may appear harmless or even beneficial at first, they can come with many long-term negative consequences.
Methods for Treating Substance Addictions vs. Process Addictions
When individuals use drugs, they’re not thinking about what happens after they use. They’re merely looking for a quick “high.” The same is true for process addictions. Individuals may not be concerned about what happens when they binge on food or gamble, for example. They’re only thinking about the pleasure they’ll get.
Most of the signs of substance abuse are similar to those of process addiction — tolerance, withdrawal and inability to stop. It’s also possible to experience both process addiction and substance use disorder concurrently. That’s why treatment for these types of addiction is the same and usually involves several therapeutic approaches, including:
- Individual therapy: Meeting with a therapist or counselor one-on-one to talk about the addiction
- Group therapy: A discussion between a group of people struggling with the same dependency in the presence of a counselor or therapist
- Support groups: Peer-to-peer talk that doesn’t involve a professional where individuals talk about their experiences and encourage each other
Preventing Process Addictions in the LGBTQ+ Community
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy and talk therapy are useful for preventing and treating process addictions. People with process addictions often also suffer from co-occurring mental health issues or substance use disorders. A physician will diagnose and treat each disorder while developing a customized plan for the process addiction.
While people with process addictions may not suffer from the same health risks as those with alcohol and drug addiction, leaving a process addiction untreated may cause untold suffering. If you think you or someone close to you has a process addiction, don’t hesitate to call our qualified therapists at 877-352-9566 or reach out to us online to get the help you need.