Process & Behavioural Addictions

Addiction can be split into two categories: chemical addictions and process (or behavioural) addictions. Chemical addictions involve taking a mind or mood-altering chemical into the body, causing feelings of euphoria and well-being. Process addictions involve external addictions or behaviours that can have the same effect.

Although behavioural addictions are not chemically altering the mind or mood, they still produce a mind and mood-altering effect, by the release of chemicals like endorphins or dopamine in the system which are the body’s natural drugs. It’s possible to become dependent on chemical and process addictions, and in many cases, both categories need treatment.

It is possible that someone suffering from addiction can switch their drug or behaviour at will. This may allow them to present a level of manageability in some areas of their life, despite the underlying addiction. For example, someone who has previously been struggling with drug addiction can go off drugs for a long period because they start acting out more with sex, gambling or food.

Process or behavioural addictions may not be immediately physically threatening nor illegal. Therefore, the addict may believe they have the situation under control, but inevitably loss of control and unmanageability prevails in all cases. Process addictions can include gambling, an eating disorder, porn or sex addiction, codependent relationships or a shopping addiction.

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