Suffering from a process addiction or compulsive behavior is similar to becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. Recent years have seen an increase in the diagnosis of process addiction amongst the wider population, but not many people understand it, or are able to successfully treat it. At One Step Rehab, our skilled team of professionals are explicitly trained in the treatment of process addictions and compulsive behaviors, providing compassionate care and supervision throughout the treatment program.

What is Process Addiction

Process addictions include computer gaming addiction, cyber addiction, gambling addiction, and sex addiction. From a physiological standpoint, process addiction is similar to substance addiction, but the behavior that the person engages in – be it gambling, gaming, or sex – triggers the brain’s reward system and delivers a release of a neurochemical in the brain called dopamine. When the ‘process’ is repeated, as is the case with an active addiction, more dopamine is supplied to the brain and tolerance increases without regard for consequences.

While not as well documented, the effects of process addiction can be as damaging as addiction to drugs or alcohol. Process addictions and compulsive behaviors can ultimately lead to financial problems, personal relationship issues, and even result in serious health problems as a result of engaging in high-risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex, or remaining sedentary for extended periods of time in front of a computer screen.

Types of Process Addiction

Gambling Addiction

When a person is unable to stop gambling despite negative consequences like accumulating debts, neglecting or abandoning relationships, or missing work, they may be diagnosed with a gambling addiction.

The potential of financial rewards from gambling can propel addictive behaviors, leading to compulsive gambling that progresses to gambling addiction, even when the individual has experienced significant losses and is unable to stop.

The ‘digital age’ has made it easier than ever to gamble, with a variety of new channels online, or in-person, sports or events gambling, card games, or the popular ‘pokie’ machines which are popular in Asia.

LGBT group of young men gamble while playing texas holdem

Cyber Addiction

Cyber addiction or internet addiction refers to ‘screen addiction,’ including addiction to social media, or mindless internet surfing, often co-occurring with gaming addiction. Cyber addiction can be difficult for some people to recognise and even more difficult to treat. Since the use of technology is so pervasive in modern society, cyber addiction can have a devastating effect on someone’s life, namely isolation and withdrawal, disassociation, and in extreme cases can lead to completely disconnecting from reality in an attempt to mask underlying psychological and emotional issues.

Young man playing roblox on pc desktop

Gaming Addiction

Gaming addiction is when someone loses the ability to control their use of online or console games. The widespread use of the internet and related technologies, has caused gaming addiction to gain momentum as a disorder, with the trend unlikely to change course any time soon.

Adolescent males are a particularly vulnerable demographic to gaming addiction, but like all addition, it does not discriminate. As an addiction to gaming progresses, you can experience severe consequences including: complete isolation, dropping out of school, loss of employment, or even suffer adverse health effects like weight loss from refusing to eat.

Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is when a person has lost control of sexual urges, fantasies, and behaviors. Sex addiction can destroy relationships, finances, careers, and mental health, and often co-occurs with alcohol or drug addiction, resulting in physical withdrawal symptoms, internal conflict, and intense feelings of shame. Sex addiction typically involves an obsession or preoccupation with sex and an inability to control or manage sexual behaviors. 

Treatment of Process Addictions

The treatment of process addiction is a lot like substance addictions, but with some differences. For sex and cyber addiction, an abstinence-based model might not be practical. The first step is to educate the client about what is going on in their brain, then work over a period of time to regulate the compulsive behaviors. Individual counselling with clients determines when and how to reintroduce the behavior in a way that is healthy and ‘normal’.

Group therapy is particularly helpful for those facing process addictions. Many people are initially unaware that they are suffering from addiction, having hidden and isolated themselves, thinking that they are alone in their struggle, but this is not the case.

Upon starting treatment at One Step Rehab, you will immediately begin engaging in group therapy, where you get the opportunity to connect and relate to others in the group who have shared similar experiences and challenges.

As with substance addiction, an initial detox and ‘cooling down period’ is prescribed in treating process addictions. At One Step Rehab, we offer the innovative One Step to Recovery program, providing a chance to ‘cool down’ and get nourished with a diet rich in vitamins. After the initial stabilisation period, you can then commence with more intensive psychotherapy to begin tackling the core of the addiction.

Female gaming addict loving the sunset in Chiang Mai