What Are Process Addictions?

When you hear the word ‘addiction,’ substances are likely the first thing that comes to mind. But drugs and alcohol aren’t the only things people can become addicted to. Certain behaviors can also become addictive, affecting mental health, actions, and relationships. It’s a condition known as ‘process addiction’ and can affect many people differently.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at process addictions, what they are, and how you can seek treatment if you or someone you know is suffering from process addiction.

What are Process Addictions?

Process addiction, otherwise known as behavioral addiction, are a form of addiction where an individual engages in a compulsive behavior that doesn’t involve an addictive substance. These behaviors can include shopping, sex and gambling. While these are behaviors that many people engage in every day without consequence, those suffering from process addictions may be unable to stop the behavior to the point where it begins to impact their health. 

People who experience process addictions may find they get a high or a rush from engaging in a certain behavior, which then compels them to repeat it. There may be poor impulse control that can lead to some destructive behaviors, although the consequences aren’t generally physical like those caused by substance misuse. 

Why are Certain Behaviors Considered Addictions?

While many of the activities associated with process addiction are common behaviors, they can become addictive. These types of activities can release endorphins, meaning a person experiences a positive feeling when engaging in the activity, and often will need to continue to engage in the activity to experience the same feeling. The pursuit of this feeling can lead to consequences in the individual’s life, causing problems at work, in relationships, financial issues, and affecting their mental health.

Some of the most common addictive behaviors include:


Millions of people gamble daily, from online games to sports betting and casinos. While many people participate in gambling activities every day, for some, it can become an addictive behavior, especially when they gamble continuously to the point where there are financial consequences. The behavior affects relationships or causes them to neglect their responsibilities.


Food addiction involves an unhealthy and compulsive relationship with food. People with food addictions tend to overeat, using food as a crutch to deal with stress, boredom, and other emotional issues. People with a food addiction may choose to eat foods high in sugar and fat and often feel guilty or ashamed about their behavior. They may struggle to control their eating, leading to health issues such as obesity and diabetes.

Video games

Video games can be a way of relieving stress and can be a form of social interaction for players. However, people with a gaming addiction can feel a compulsion to play, playing excessively to the point of neglecting their responsibilities and other forms of social interactions as well as their health. Those with a gaming addiction may find it challenging to focus outside of play, feeling irritable and restless.


In 2023, 47% admitted to being addicted to their phones. A phone or tech addiction involves the excessive use of phones, tablets, computers, and other digital devices, spending a significant portion of their days online. A constant need to stay connected and checking devices can lead to stress and anxiety while also damaging relationships and other areas of a person’s life.


Sex addiction, also known as hypersexuality, involves engaging in sexual activities to an excessive and almost uncontrollable extent. This can lead to risky behaviors, engaging in sexual activity with numerous partners, and thoughts of sex can preoccupy a person’s mind, causing problems in other aspects of their lives.


Shopping addictions, or compulsive buying behaviors, happen when a person feels an obsessive need to shop, leading to financial problems. Shopping can help boost confidence, relieve stress, and fill emotional voids, with people needing to shop regularly to help them feel good.

How Are Process Addictions Treated?

Process addictions can be treated in various ways to help a person manage their behaviors, much like treatments for substance addictions. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common ways to treat process addiction. At the same time, treatments may also focus on helping individuals understand their addiction, what causes it, and how they can manage it in the future.

Process Addiction Treatment at Peaks Recovery

If you, or someone you love, is suffering from process addiction, Peaks Recovery can help. Our mental health services ensure the highest standards of care to help clients learn more about their addictions and to help them on the path to recovery.

Contact us today for more information about our services.

Medical Disclaimer: Peaks Recovery Centers uses fact-based content about recovery treatment, addiction medicine, and behavioral health conditions to improve the quality of life for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction or mental health disorders. This information is not intended to replace professional medical guidance, diagnosis, care, or treatment. This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare provider and/or your physician.