Process Addiction

A Problematic, Compulsive Behavior

Sometimes regarded as an impulse control problem, process addictions involve compulsions to continuously engage in a specific behavior despite the harmful consequences to the individual. Some of the most common types known today include gambling, sex, and food addiction. Although yet to be fully understood, non-drug related compulsive behavior involves the same brain circuitry as those that are suffering from an alcohol or drug addiction. Process addiction is a treatable condition, and its recovery pathway is similar to that of substance-related addictions.

What is Process Addiction?


Process addiction is a medical term covering many different addictions involving a compulsion to engage in a behavior despite the negative impact on personal and/or professional life. Examples of a process addiction are gaming, porn, shopping, and gambling. By comparison to an addictive substance, these behaviors can increase the level of the very same neurotransmitters in specific areas, in the brain known to play a vital role in the process leading to drug addiction. Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemical messengers transmitting information to other cells in the body and play a major role in everyday functioning and wellbeing. As such, anyone suffering from a process addiction will show similar behaviors, thoughts, and feelings to those struggling with a substance use disorder.

Different Kinds of Process Addictions


Despite the severe consequences, a compulsive behavior can be difficult to stop without intervention and treatment. The most common process or behavioral addictions include:

Gambling Addiction – the inability to resist an impulse to participate in gambling-related activities leading to adverse consequences for the gambler and others.

Sex Addiction – a sex-related disorder involving compulsive engagement in sexual activity driven by the inability to control sexual urges including behaviors and thoughts.

Food Addiction – Characterized by the compulsive consumption of specific foods releasing high levels of neurochemicals associated with the reward system, impacting physical health and emotional wellbeing.

Gaming Addiction – Excessive use of a computer or video games leading to social isolation, mood swings, and sleep deprivation.

Like potentially addictive substances, the more a behavior is linked to our survival, such as food or sex, the more vulnerable we are to becoming addicted to it.

Treating Process Addiction

At Sensum, we recognize that the underlying causes rather than the substance or behavior itself is what’s causing the suffering to those that struggle with addiction. As such, we can treat a problematic, compulsive behavior effectively and the process is often similar to that of, a drug addiction. Evidence-based behavioral therapies and alternative approaches help identify and heal the underlying problems leading to damaging compulsive behavior. If abstinence is not possible or desirable, as with food or sex, we will help you change the relationship you have with the specific behavior allowing you to engage in the process without the negative, painful consequences previously experienced. Our advanced and holistic treatment programs are tailor-made to ensure your therapeutic needs are met at all times to help you achieve a lasting recovery. Do not hesitate to contact us whenever questions arise concerning the treatment of process addiction or any other Sensum recovery program provided for in-home, inpatient or both.