3 Signs You Have a Process Addiction

Process addictions are not actual clinical diagnoses, but are terms that describe behaviors that are problematic. Process addictions are similar to substance addictions, except that they do not involve substances at all, they only involve behaviors. It’s also important to note that eating disorders are not process addictions, they are in a separate category and are a clinical diagnosis. Process addictions behaviors can include sex, gaming, shopping, love/relationship, etc. Basically, any behavior that you engage in that changes the way you feel and starts to effect your life negatively can become a process addiction. Here are some signs that a behavior may be turning into an addiction:

The Behavior is Causing Problems

One of the first signs of an addiction is problems start to arise because of the behavior. For example, maybe you really enjoy gaming online, but your partner is complaining that you never spend time with the family anymore because you are always online. Or, maybe you really enjoy shopping, but you notice that your shopping has increased substantially and your partner is getting angry about the money you are spending. Another way that the behavior is causing problems is that it may start to interfere with work or family responsibilities. Maybe you have been late to work multiple days last week because you were online shopping.

The Time Your Spending Doing the Behavior is Increasing

This is a tell tale sign of addiction. As the dependency on the behavior gets stronger, this leads to the need to spend more time doing the behavior. For example, maybe shopping used to be just a weekend or social behavior, but as you start to rely on shopping to make you happy, you need to shop more and more in order to maintain the feelings of happiness. So now, instead of just shopping on the weekends, you are now shopping on your lunch break and every day after work. You now start to rely on shopping in order to make you happy. This is similar to the concept of tolerance. The brain is needing more and more of the behavior in order to feel happy.

You Feel Depressed When You Stop the Behavior

Another sign that an addiction has developed is feeling depressed when not engaging in the behavior. The brain is now relying on the addictive behavior to feel good, and so when the behavior is stopped the resulting feeling is depression. Unfortunately, feeling depressed can perpetuate the addiction because it triggers someone to engage in the behavior again in order to feel better.

If you think you might have a process addiction, it’s important to see a licensed therapist who can treat the addiction. Some people feel ashamed of the behavior and don’t want to tell anyone about it. However, therapists are trained to treat this kind of behavior, and it’s important to be completely honest with your therapist about what you are struggling with. Some therapists have different training and expertise, and so it’s important to be honest with your therapist upfront so that they can refer you to the appropriate therapist if they don’t have the correct training or expertise.

At Silver Lining Counseling, Kristin Dickie treats some process addictions including love and relationship addiction and shopping addiction. Kristin is currently accepting new patients and can be reached on her cell phone at 704-237-7037 or kristin@silverliningcharlotte.com.

I look forward to connecting with you!