Process addictions can occur in several forms including addictions to gambling, sex, food, shopping, and work.
Unlike ingestive addictions where a person is addicted to some type of substance like alcohol or nicotine, process addictions involve being obsessed with a particular action. The addict becomes consumed with the process that it starts affecting the individuals life as well as those close to the addict. Process addictions do not have to be severe to create problems, and there is help out there for those who are struggling.
The article, “Gambling Addiction and Problem Gambling” states that more than 15 million people are affected by gambling and more than three million are considered to have a severe gambling problem. Gambling addiction is a type of compulsive control disorder. People with this problem have impulses to gamble and feel like they cannot stop gambling even when they know they are hurting themselves and those around them. According to Helpguide.org, gambling affects an addicts relationships, work and home responsibilities, as well as finances. Continuing in a gambling addiction can lead to driving away family members and losing ones life savings.
There are no known symptoms for a gambling addiction other than secretiveness, but “Gambling Addiction and Problem Gambling” offers four red flags that may signal that a gambling problem exists. These include:
- Feeling the need to be secretive about gambling
- Having trouble controlling the urge to gamble
- Gambling when you dont have money
- Having family members who are concerned
Treatments exist for those who are struggling with gambling, and some of them are calling the National Council on Problem Grambling hotline, attending Gamblers Anonymous, and seeking therapy.
According to Michael Herkov, those suffering with a sex addiction struggle with sexual thoughts and actions constantly. Some sex addicts may only be involved in masturbation, pornography, and phone services. More severe forms of sexual addiction may consist of illegal activities like child molestation and rape. The article, “What is Sexual Addiction?,” states that 71% of child molesters are sex addicts.
Having a sex addiction can have negative effects on the addict and his or her family. Since sex addicts are in fact addicted, they don’t give much consideration to the potential health risks of engaging in sexual activity like sexually transmitted diseases along with other problems like broken relationships and financial struggles or possibly even arrest.
Treatments for sexual addiction focus on dealing with the shame and guilt that comes from taking part in these actions and separating the harmful sexual behavior. “Treatment for Sexual Addiction” by Herkov says that people seeking a treatment program should look for the following components:
- Time for family members to receive support and have a debriefing period
- A focus on the health risks and how to address those in a care plan
- Education about sex addictions and the misconceptions
- A separate group that allows couples to work on intimate issues
Sexaholics Anonymous is a 12-step program available to addicts. Those seeking treatment may also need to go through therapy such as cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, or group therapy.
Since shopping is done frequently around holidays and during the week for necessities, it can be difficult determining a shopping addiction from an enjoyable pastime. According to WebMD, a shopping addiction is defined as being inappropriate and out of control. Having a shopping addiction can be destructive and lead to financial devastation.
Most individuals with a shopping addiction get some kind of high during the process. Heather Hatfield mentions that when people are feeling good while partaking in their shopping addiction, it reinforces the action causing them to want to continue doing it regardless of the consequences. Some signs that Hatfield states may be evident in those addicted to shopping include:
- Spending over budget
- Hiding the shopping from others
- Lying about how much money was spent
- Strained relationships with family and friends
- Feeling guilt or shame after a shopping spree
- Buying with a credit card instead of cash
There aren’t any standard treatments for people suffering from a shopping addiction, but cognitive-behavioral treatments and debt counseling can be very helpful.
A work addiction is when a person becomes overly occupied with their work. It is different from hard work or working long hours because those who just work hard are still able to find some balance in their lives. “Workaholism: The Respectable Addiction,” says that a work addiction prevents people from having healthy relationships, outside interests like hobbies and extracurricular activities, and can even strain a person’s health.
Workaholics tend to be less effective in their jobs compared to others, and the article, “Workaholism: The Respectable Addiction,” also gives four different styles of workaholics.
- The bulimic workaholic feels the need to do the job perfectly. These types of workaholics end up scrambling to finish the job on time but have sloppy results.
- The relentless workaholic often takes on more work than they can do, and they work too fast and careless for thorough results.
- The attention-deficit workaholic starts off strong in a project but burns out and usually fails to finish the project.
- The savoring workaholic is methodical and slow and has trouble letting go of projects. They frequently miss deadlines because their work must be perfect.
Workaholics can receive support through Workaholics Anonymous, and going to therapy may also be helpful. The goal of treating a workaholic is helping them find balance in their life and enjoy other things like family, friends, and outside activities.
Eating addiction is also referred to as binge eating disorder. In this type of addiction, the individual is obsessed with food and thoughts related to food. According to edtreatmentcenters.com, those who binge eat go for foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates. During a binge, addicts usually feel anxious or panicky, and guilt or shame usually follows a binge eating episode.
Since eating addictions are linked to psychological components, addicts often seek help from therapists to get their eating habits under control. If this type of addiction isn’t treated, it can lead to severe health problems including diabetes, depression, and heart disease.