How Are Drug and Process Addictions Connected?

How Are Drug and Process Addictions Connected?A process addiction may look at first like a far different and even much less severe problem than a drug addiction. After all, gambling, shopping and eating are ordinary things that normal people do regularly. None of them are dangerous and illegal like a street drug. They do not interfere directly with brain chemistry. Simply cutting back on these activities should be relatively easy.

And yet, for many California residents, trying to reduce the frequency of these normal activities to manageable levels would be impossible. Expecting people with a process addiction to simply cut back on their problem processes would be as unrealistic as expecting an alcoholic to simply cut his drinking back to one beer a day.

How Process and Drug Addictions Cause Similar Struggles for California Addicts

People suffering from both process and drug addictions find themselves similarly powerless to change. California addicts may see the damage their compulsive behavior or substance abuse is causing themselves and the people around them, but simply be unable to stop what they are doing. They may want to quit or even resolve to quit, but they can’t quit without help.

Psychological Similarities between Process and Drug Addictions

But how can an activity that has no physical effect cause people to repeatedly act against their own best interests?

One way to understand how a person can become addicted to a process is to consider the psychological aspects of drug addictions. Drug addictions are complex problems that are both physical and psychological. The physical side of the problem is directly painful. Withdrawal symptoms, which arise from stopping a chronically abused drug, drive many addicts back to the drug they have resolved to quit.

And yet, the physical aspect of a drug addiction can be easier to treat than the psychological side. After all, the body will eventually adjust to a drug-free metabolism. By the time an addict goes home from a typical 30-day detoxification and rehabilitation, his body will be no more dependent on the drug than the day he first took the drug.

And yet, we know that a successful drug addiction recovery depends on continued effort that lasts long after the initial rehab is complete. The lifelong process of recovery is a sustained attack against the psychological aspects of addiction.

California Addicts’ Out of Balance Brain Chemistry

Whether a person compulsively places bets on horses or compulsively injects heroin, there is a similar problem with the way that person’s brain is processing sensations of reward. Ordinarily, the thought of doing something pleasurable, such as eating ice cream, generates some activity in some parts of the brain called reward centers. When that pleasurable activity is actually done, such as when an ice cream cone is actually being eaten, there is much more activity in the brain’s pleasure centers.

With both process addictions and drug addictions, the relationship between the pleasure of anticipating something and actually doing it is flipped backwards: The anticipation becomes more important and exciting than the activity itself. The person in this situation finds himself more and more strongly compelled to do something that brings less and less reward. This problem is same with process addictions as with substance addictions.

Parallel Treatments for Drug and Process Addictions

Whether a California resident is struggling to overcome a process addiction or a substance addiction, some of the methods of successful treatment and recovery are the same for each. These can include:

  • Counseling
  • Support groups
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

Whatever approaches are pursued, the addict’s recognition of the problem and a desire to change are crucial to success.

Overcoming Addiction

If you or a loved one in California is suffering from an addiction, whether a substance addiction, a process addiction or both, there are programs that can help. Call our toll-free helpline to learn more about treatment options. Counselors are available 24 hours a day.

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