Are Process Addictions Medically Recognized?

Are Process Addictions Medically Recognized?

Gambling addiction is a commonly recognized process addiction

Process addictions are serious mental health conditions but are often left undetected and untreated. Most people are unfamiliar with these types of addictions or simply do not perceive them as being serious. In fact, many media channels, such as television shows and movies, even use sex addiction and other process addictions as the basis for jokes. Despite this lack of recognition, process addictions are still considered medical conditions and should be treated just as seriously.

What Is a Process Addiction?

Process addictions, formerly known as behavioral addictions, are those that involve a process or activity. Some of the most common process addictions include the following:

  • Gambling addiction
  • Internet addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • Gaming addiction
  • Exercise addiction
  • Work addiction

Process additions are different from substance addictions, in which drug or alcohol consumption leads to addiction. Though these types of addictions differ, they are all equally devastating to those affected by them. In fact, process addictions can become so severe that withdrawal symptoms can occur when the process or action is not performed frequently enough.

Views on Process Addictions

Though process addictions are common in the United States and around the world, they often remain unrecognized to those who have not experienced them firsthand. As a society, we like to justify the presence of diseases based on physical changes in the body. We quantify blood pressure, for example, as a measure of cardiovascular health. It can be much more difficult to recognize an addiction in this same way. This is especially true of process addictions, which do not involve the use of chemically altering drugs or alcohol. For this reason, process addictions are often ignored.

Fortunately, the medical recognition of process addictions has made great strides over time. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes criteria for the diagnosis of gambling addiction. Internet addiction is also noted briefly in the manual. However, all other process addictions remain unmentioned and unrecognized.

Treating Process Addictions

Despite being largely unrecognized by the medical world, treatment is still available for most process addictions. The main components of process addiction treatment are similar to those of the treatment of substance addiction. Individual therapy, for example, is an indispensable part of treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most commonly utilized approaches for this purpose. This type of therapy can help to analyze the destructive thought processes that contribute to the addiction and turn them into more constructive thoughts and behaviors.

Another staple of process addiction treatment is attending a support group. 12-step programs like Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) and Internet and Tech Addiction Anonymous (ITAA) are some of the most commonly used. Participating in support groups like these can help those with process addictions connect with other people with the same struggles. These new connections can be useful for exchanging advice and encouragement during recovery.

Get Help for Process Addictions

Many people are hesitant to seek help for process addictions, as they may not recognize it as an illness. However, untreated process addictions can lead to both physical and mental health damage. Therefore, if you or a loved one suffers from a process addiction, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatment for process addictions.