Behavioral Addictions Counseling
When you think of adjectives for addiction, the first words that usually come to mind are alcohol and drug. You can probably add smoking to that list, and maybe food. These are substance addictions. But there are other mood-altering behaviors and activities out there that do not appear harmful on the surface. The following are the most common process addictions seen in addiction counseling:
- Eating Disorders
- Shopping and Spending
- Video Games
- The Internet
- Cell Phones
In the field of mental health counseling, these are called process addictions, these can include activities like gambling, shopping or spending, exercise, sex, work, video games, the internet, and cell phones. Just looking at this list, you can readily see that these behaviors are not harmful when used in moderation. They become a problem when you have the urgent need to continue the activity despite the consequences. That’s when they turn into full-blown addictions.
When we get involved in a behavior with the purpose of masking pain or stuffing our feelings, we are using that behavior as an addiction. A process addiction can be as debilitating as drug or alcohol addiction. As a result, a process addiction is every bit as serious.
Many people suffering substance abuse are also addicted to another substance or behavior. They develop a process addiction while trying to resolve their drinking or drug issues.
Those in the early stages of recovery from chemical dependency are particularly susceptible to process addiction issues. It’s that whole thing about people who manage to get sober, but then they gain 100 pounds. Or they start going to the casino and losing money. Process addiction is something that can be a part of chemical dependency, or it can seek to replace chemical usage following a period of abstinence from the substance.
Treating Process Addictions
Therapy can help for those suffering from process addiction much the same way as it helps with recovery from substance abuse. In the safety of therapy, you can begin to explore when it was that this activity started to become problematic. Then we look at what are the trigger points for the usage of that process addiction. After that, we begin to discover and deal with unresolved and underlying emotional issues that led to problematic process addiction use.
For example, those with a gambling addiction often have underlying and unprocessed anger issues. What we do is stop doing the gambling, but beyond that provide a strong anger management program so they are not at risk with gambling addiction.
We explore and resolve the emotional and psychological issues in hopes of securing long-term abstinence from the addiction. Unresolved issues are a platform to springboard into acting out with compulsive behavior and process addiction. We seek to dismantle the psychological issues that allow that behavior to exist.
I recognize that each process addiction has its own unique factors. Those factors are different for those with a shopping addiction as for those, say, with an internet pornography addiction. As a result, a different set of clinical interventions might be used to resolve each addiction. As a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor, I am both knowledgeable and experienced in process addiction.