Process addictions, like compulsive gambling, sexual behavior, shopping, are similar to addictions to substances in the way they affect the brain. But unlike abstinence from substances, some triggers to process addictions can be difficult to avoid. Human beings have a need for food and for sex. We need to purchase groceries and clothing. How can individuals find sobriety when the same behaviors that we need to survive are possible pitfalls into the spiral of addiction?
Compulsion Drives Addiction
Alavi, Ferdosi, et al. wrote that “when a habit becomes an obligation, it can be considered an addiction.” Indeed, any behaviors that are stimulating to the brain and body have the capacity to become an addiction. Process addicts struggle with restraining from engaging in these behaviors and activities, failing to maintain a balanced relationship with these actions. Treatment for process addictions does not differ widely from substance abuse treatment. Twelve Step programs, such as Gamblers Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous, are useful supports to help process addicts gain a sense of community, education and accountability that can lead to sobriety. Medications that treat impulsivity, anxiety and compulsive thoughts can be useful in the treatment process. Holistic endeavors like mindfulness training, meditation and yoga can help addicts learn to regulate their emotional and physical states to loosen addiction’s grip on their sanity. Understanding the true and devastating price of all addictions can encourage more compassion for the addict, more interest in funding research into addiction treatment, and help develop effective prevention programs that can curtail addictive behavior before it takes root.