A process addiction is a disordered behavior, such as compulsive gambling, sexual addiction and eating disorders. Individuals become dependent on the behavior, despite the negative consequences that result from the activity. It becomes uncontrollable, and the good feeling that is resulted from the activity almost always follows by a negative feeling of regret and despair. A vicious cycle of additive behavior results. Process addiction is the term for any behavioral addiction which does not involve an addictive chemical. Although there is no chemical use, the resulting behavior and choices made are quite similar to the ones developed when changes occur as a result from a substance use disorder. When a habit or hobby becomes an addiction. A process addiction is characterized by:
- An obsessive need to be involved with the activity, or planning the activity.
- Neglecting responsibilities in favor of doing the behavior
- Your behavior is interfering with your relationships, such as infidelity, neglect of children or change in friendships.
- Legal trouble, such as illegal gambling, prostitution, or breaking laws in order to engage in your behavior of choice.
- You feel as if you do not have control over whether or not you participate in the activity.
- Your life revolves around your behavioral addiction.
Process addictions are often overlooked due to the combination of shame, guilt and lack of understanding. It is somewhat easy to comprehend the chemical addiction of a person who abuses substances while the strong psychological compulsions of the process addict are often ignored. Observers often as why the addictive individual cannot “just stop” or “make better choices.” It is not that simple or easy. There are serious chemical and biological changes which occur in the brain of someone who has a process addiction.
This addictive process is complex, can be difficult to understand and has several influencing factors. An individual's mental state, genetics, social status and past experiences all influence the addict and the timeline of their addiction. However it is well known both for substance and process addictions that a person's reward center in their brain is stimulated causing release of chemicals into the body and brain which drive addictive behaviors.
Gambling disorder is persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior leading to significant impairment or distress.
Compulsive Gambling in an impulse control disorder in which the gambler cannot stop gambling, even when they know they're hurting themselves or loved ones. And, a big win does not deter them, either. They will continue to gamble whether they're winning or losing, broke or flush, happy or depressed.
In America, there are many ways for individuals to gamble, from sports betting and lottery tickets to roulette, poker, and slots machines-all online or in a casino. While some gamblers can play the games on occasion, others have an uncontrollable urge to keep going, even if it means risking it all.
A study conducted by the University of Buffalo found that over 80% of Americans gamble on a yearly basis, and that 3% to 5% of Americans struggle with a gambling problem. Compulsive or problem gambling also increases in frequency during one's teen years, reaching its pinnacle in the 20s and 30s.
By acting on the brain's reward center, gambling can become addiction. Here are some signs that you, or a loved one, may be a compulsive gambler:
- Spending increasing amount of money and time on gambling
- Gambling despite serious consequences, such as financial or relationship hardships
- Borrowing or stealing money to gambled
- Feeling the need to be secretive about gambling habits
- Inability to walk away or stop until you've spent your last dollar
- Using gambling as a way to escape problems or negative feelings
- Failed efforts to stop or cut back on gambling
Eating disorders are about more than food. These are illnesses in which the sufferer experiences disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. Eating disorders have a wide range of physical, psychological, and social causes and consequences. Of all the mental health illnesses, eating disorders are the most lethal.
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reports that up to 24 million Americans of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder. Yet, only 1 in 10 of these individuals receive treatment. The population most at risk for developing an eating disorder are elite athletes, particularly females involved in aesthetic sports, such as gymnastics, ballet, and figure skating. While anorexia nervosa and bulimia are the most known eating disorders, there are others that the public, and even some physicians, are just starting to understand. These disorders include: binge eating disorder, other specified feeding eating disorders (OSFED), and unspecified feeding or eating disorders (UFED).
The last two listed disorders were so named because many eating disorder sufferers do not exhibit clear-cut symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. Instead, they have a combination of symptoms, and sometimes those symptoms may be less intense or occur infrequently.
Anorexia is an eating disorder defined by the sufferer's severe restriction of food intake. This is often due to a distorted body image and an intense fear of weight gain. Sufferers place a high value on their ability to control their weight and body shape, often becoming obsessed with calorie intake. Many people with anorexia use a combination of activities to remain thin, including excessive dieting and exercise; abusing laxatives, diuretics, and enemas; eating very small quantities of specific "safe" foods; and even self-induced vomiting.
However, this disorder is not just about wanting to be thin. Those suffering with anorexia are using obsessive control of their diet as a way to cope with emotional problems, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and trauma.
Some warning signs of anorexia nervosa include:
- An intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
- Severe limitation on food intake, self-induced starvation
- Refusing to eat in front of others
- Cutting food into small pieces, moving food around the plate instead of eating
- Obsessive exercising, even when hurt or exhausted
- Using pills to force urination, bowel movements, or decreased appetite
- Blotchy, yellow, and/or dry skin covered with fine hair
- Sensitivity to cold due to low body weight
- Absent or irregular menstruation in females
Bulimia is an eating disorder in which an individual regularly, and secretly, binges on food and then purges it in an effort to eliminate the caloric intake. Some individuals with bulimia do not purge, instead they use other, dangerous methods to get rid of calories, such as fasting, strict dieting, and intense exercising. Those with bulimia may exhibit these behaviors several times a day.
Bulimia is closely tied to one's self-image, wherein the sufferer judges their perceived flaws harshly. Sufferers are constantly at battle with their desire to lose weight and the compulsion to overeat. Oftentimes, these individuals feel extreme guilt and failure and go to excessive lengths to hide it, which isn't difficult because sufferers typically have a normal to above normal body weight.
However, there are signs of bulimia that can be identified, including:
- Dramatic increase in caloric intake as well as buying large amounts of food that quickly disappear
- Alternating between overeating and fasting
- Regularly visiting the bathroom right after meals
- Obsessive exercising, even when hurt of exhausted
- Marks, such as callouses or cuts, on hands and fingers from induced vomiting
- Puffy cheeks, discolored teeth, and the smell of vomit
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is characterized by frequent episodes of consuming large amounts of food, but without the compensatory behaviors to prevent weight gain. This can include eating when not hungry, eating until feeling physical discomfort, and eating alone to avoid shame or humiliation.
The Binge Eating Disorder Association reports that binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in America, affecting people of all ages, races, and levels of education. These suffers are most likely to be of average or above weight and often feel out of control during a binge episode. However, the amount of food eaten during such episodes varies from individual to individual.
There are also many different reasons why people use food to meet needs other than fulfilling hunger. These reasons can vary from an effort to escape or reward themselves, to avoiding or coping with stress, anxiety, fear, shame, grief, loneliness, and anger.
However, those with binge eating disorders often exhibit the following symptoms:
- Reoccurring episodes of binge eating at least once a week for three months
- Eating large amounts of food in a short time frame
- Inability to stop eating or control what or how much is eaten
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts when not physically hungry
- Visible distress regarding the inability to control or stop eating
Other Specified Feeding Eating Disorders (OSFED)
This eating disorder consists of variations of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. It can causes significant distress and impairment, but doesn't meet all the criteria that defines a specific eating disorder. Sufferers of OSFED typically avoid or restrict calories, usually falling below the minimum amount needed to sustain them.
Oftentimes, these individuals experience significant weight loss and nutritional deficiencies, leading to impaired psychosocial functioning. They may also binge and purge infrequently or suffer from night eating syndrome, which is eating right after wakening up or consuming large amounts of food after their usual evening meal.
Individuals with OSFED can experience health consequences similar to those of other eating disorders, such as a slow heart rate, high or low blood pressure, high cholesterol, brittle bones, severe dehydration, kidney failure, gastric rupture, tooth decay, fainting, and fatigue.
Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorders (UFED)
UFED is any other eating disorder that doesn't fit a particular diagnosis. While there is evidence of disordered eating that can lead to clinical risks or impaired functioning, there is not enough information to make a specific diagnosis, or the symptoms do not meet the threshold of diagnosable eating disorders.
Some unhealthy behaviors that may be a sign of UFED include:
- Preoccupied with thoughts of how to lose weight
- Obsession with food amounts, choices, and eating rituals
- Harsh self-criticism regarding body size and/or shape
- Intense fear of gaining weight or ability to control consumption
- Using food for comfort, usually by binging
What is sexual addiction?
Sex addiction is a progressive disorder defined as any compulsive sexual behavior that interferes with normal living and results in negative consequences to the individual, family, friends, and/or loved ones.
The disorder can also be referred to as hypersexuality, sexual dependency and sexual compulsivity. Sex addicts often place sex on the highest priority and are incapable of stopping despite an increase of stress and/or anxiety it causes. Sex and sexual fantasies become of primary importance in an addict's life. It dominates their thought patterns and becomes the central focus in their everyday living. They are using the "orgasmic high" to escape the pain of their current reality. They continue to sexually act out despite an increase in negative consequences.
What are the signs of a sex addict?Unmanageability:
Unmanageability refers to a person's inability to feel or be productive because of the distraction caused by compulsive sexual activities. Dealing with the responsibilities of everyday life become overwhelming. The sex addict begins to neglect the most basic components of his/her life. Relationships begin to deteriorate, responsibilities at work are effected, and there develops an overall physical or emotional distress. Continued sexual acting out demonstrates ones inability to control his relationship with sex and is a potential sign of sex addiction.Pre-occupation:
Pre-occupation refers to constantly thinking about sex or sexually acting out. An individual who finds him/herself often planning his/her next sexual encounter, constant focus on sex, searching for new and increased sexual stimulation and all indicators of sex addiction. Frustration, sadness, or fear because of recent sexual encounters is another sign of emotional pre-occupation a sex addict struggles with.Sexual escalation/Tolerance:
Sexual escalation refers to an increase in sexual behaviors, including but not limited to, amount of time spent, risk taking, aggressiveness, and/or dangerous sexual behaviors. Tolerance includes not being satisfied physically or emotionally through previous sexual behaviors.Emotional:
Emotional signs refer to overwhelming feelings of shame, guilt, generalized anxiety and/or symptoms of depression can be signs of emotional consequences associated with sex addiction.
What behaviors indicate sex addiction?
Common behaviors include, but are not limited to compulsive masturbation, compulsive heterosexual and homosexual relationships, excessive pornography, prostitution, multiple affairs, massage parlours, phone sex, web-cam sex, anonymous sex, dangerous or risky sexual behaviors, and objectifying the opposite sex.
What are the 10 most reported addictive sexual behaviors?Fantasy Sex:
Sexually charged fantasies, relationships, and situations. The mental imagery serves as the pornographySeductive Role Sex:
Seduction of partners. Arousal is based on conquest and diminishes rapidly after initial contactVoyeuristic Sex:
Visual arousal to escape into a an obsessive tranceExhibitionistic Sex:
Attracting attention to one's body. Arousal stems from the reaction of the viewer- whether shock or interestPaying for Sex:
Arousal is connected to payment for sex and with time the arousal actually becomes connected to money itselfTrading Sex:
Selling or bartering sex for power. Arousal is based on gaining control of others by using sex as leverageIntrusive Sex:
Boundary violation without discovery. Sexual arousal occurs by violating boundaries with no repercussionsPain Exchange Sex:
Being humiliated or hurt as part of sexual arousal, hurting or denigrating another sexually, or bothExploitive Sex:
Arousal patterns are based on target "types" of vulnerability