Overcoming substance use disorder is only one step in the process of addiction recovery. When a recovering addict can’t get their fix through the use of drugs and alcohol, they’ll often turn to pleasurable yet destructive behaviors to satisfy their addictive urges, leading to bad habits in sobriety. When done in excess, these behaviors and activities can become what are known as process addictions.
Let’s take a closer look at the unique dangers that recovering addicts face when it comes to developing process addictions, as well as strategies for minimizing the risks and ensuring complete addiction recovery.
What Is a Process Addiction?
Process addiction – also known as behavioral addiction – refers to a class of mental health disorders in which a person compulsively engages in certain activities or behaviors, regardless of the negative consequences.
Unlike an alcoholic or drug addict, a person with a process addiction doesn’t rely on a substance to get high. However, this doesn’t mean that breaking a process addiction is easy. In fact, process addictions can be just as strong as any other type of addiction.
What Are Some Common Process Addictions?
Almost any activity or behavior that causes the brain to release dopamine can become the source of addiction. Some of the most common process addictions include:
- Gambling addiction
- Sex addiction
- Food addiction
- Video game addiction
- Shopping addiction
- Pornography addiction
- Internet addiction
What Are the Causes of Process Addiction?
You’ve probably heard many people describe themselves as having an “addictive personality,” but what exactly do they mean? Why are some people able to keep their gambling habit limited to a monthly game of poker, while others pour money into slot machines until their bank account is completely empty?
Three of the biggest factors associated with the development of process addictions are personality type, genetics and history of substance abuse.
The Risk of Replacing One Addiction with Another
Individuals who are recovering from substance use disorder frequently end up channeling their addictive urges into other activities. These can either be healthy activates like personal hobbies and exercise, or they can be destructive activities like binge eating and gambling.
When you think about it, has someone really recovered if they jump right into an unhealthy sugar addiction after drug and alcohol addiction, for example? Even though a process addiction may look like a healthier alternative to drug and alcohol use, addiction of any kind can have the same disastrous consequences.
Some signs that a recovering addict has developed a behavioral addiction include:
- Giving up sleep in favor of the new activity
- Damaged relationships caused by the activity
- Prioritizing the activity over financial and social obligations
- Stress or anger when they can’t engage in the activity
- The inability to think about anything other than the activity
Healthier Ways to Replace Addiction
After overcoming the initial pain of quitting drugs and alcohol, recovering addicts are frequently hit with the terrifying question, “What do I do now?” Drugs and alcohol had consumed so much of the addict’s time and energy that their absence leaves a massive void.
In the first few months or years of recovery, it’s very easy to fall back on old, addictive habits and pick up a sex, food or gambling addiction when sober. However, there is a better path.
Remember, you are not alone in the struggle to achieve addiction recovery. Others have been there before and can help you on your journey. If you would like to share your experiences with addiction replacement or a process addiction, come and join us on our forum here at Fight Addiction Now!