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Process or behavioural addictions occur when a person becomes addicted to a rewarding behaviour which isn't connected to a substance. These may also be called compulsive behaviours, as they are characterized by a compulsion to perform actions despite negative and/or harmful consequences. People can suffer from a dependency on certain processes, their lives controlled by the addiction.

The difference between substance & process addictions

The largest difference between process and substance addictions is the physical issues faced by those engaging in drug or alcohol abuse. However, all addictions stimulate the brain's reward system by releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine, producing what we call "happiness."

The stimulation of both substance and process addictions leads people to seek out the dopamine hit over and over again until it becomes compulsive. Repeated exposure gradually decreases the pleasure derived from the stimulant thereby leading the addict to seek more stimulation in order to attain that "high." 

Defining process addiction

While most people engage in (and enjoy) activities that can become process addictions (such as eating, sex, exercise, shopping, gambling), it becomes an addiction when:

  • The person struggles with physical or mental health issues as a consequence of their inability to stop
  • The person experiences difficulties in significant relationships due to their behaviour
  •  Other negative consequences directly caused by their continued behaviour affects the life of the person (such as gambling away a home or losing a job)
  • Despite these consequences, the person isn't able to stop engaging in the damaging behaviour 

At Chabad Lifeline,  we are here for anyone affected by substance addiction, offering one on one services as well as group therapy for both the addict and those affected by their addiction.

Click an icon below to find out more information about the substance. 

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