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Many people are familiar with addictions that involve substances, such as alcohol or drugs. What isn’t as widely discussed are process addictions. Process addictions are defined as an addiction to certain behaviors, such as gambling, gaming, shopping, or sex. Individuals with process addictions engage in the behavior for the positive feelings that come with the pleasure and reward of participating in the behavior. Much like addictions to substances, individuals who have process addictions may have dealt with trauma that led them to engage in self-defeating behaviors. Trauma can also happen as a result of engaging in self-defeating behaviors. The Guest House is ready and willing to help you if you are struggling with a process addictions. Learn more below.

From Habit to Compulsion to Disease

One of your brain’s many jobs is to process pleasure. Process addictions thrive on pleasure. Whether it be gambling away the remaining cash in your pocket, staying up all night to play video games, shopping until you drop, or having unsafe sex with multiple partners, your brain recognizes the thrill comes with these actions. The first time you placed a bet, played a game, bought a special item, or became intimate with someone was probably a lot less risky than where you are now. Doing something once and enjoying the reward can lead to that behavior becoming a habit. Soon, you feel a compulsive need to continue the habit. Then, without realizing it, you might find yourself addicted to the behavior.

Stimulation and Overload

When studying individuals who have addictions, scientists have found that there is a neurotransmitter that is closely linked to developing an addiction. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is released in the brain’s reward system. Dopamine has also been found to regulate emotions and motivation, along with pleasure. The release of dopamine isn’t the concerning thing — it’s the amount of dopamine that is released that is troubling. When a natural behavior is completed, a normal level of this neurotransmitter is released. When a substance is used or a behavior is completed that floods an individual’s brain with this neurotransmitter, the brain becomes exhilarated and the behavior is reinforced. 

When activities that are necessary for human survival come with intense amounts of pleasure and reward, it’s not surprising that these behaviors emulate the stimulation and overloading of the release of too much dopamine and thus reinforce the behavior, much like is done when substances are used.

How Trauma Can Impact Behavior

There are different pathways to addiction, which is why the debate of “nature versus nurture” is no longer thought of as “either/or” but instead “and.” Nature and nurture, researchers now know, are responsible for the development of an addiction. A person’s genes can, without a doubt, impact their susceptibility for developing an addiction. Trauma, however, falls into the “nurture” category.

For individuals who internalize much of their feelings and experiences, they are less likely to seek help from others when something is wrong. They turn inwards and will try to work through things on their own. This is where people often turn to self-defeating behaviors to help them cope with past traumas.

For individuals who seek out thrill and reward, they are more likely to find themselves in environments that are risky. Their impulsive behaviors don’t leave them much time to stop and think about the consequences that come from their actions. This can possibly put them in situations that have the potential to be traumatic.

Working Through Process Addictions

Process addictions can be extremely difficult to navigate because there are some behaviors that simply cannot be avoided. Eating, shopping, and sex are a vital part of life as humans. So, how can someone who is addicted to these types of behaviors engage in just the right amount? The first place to start is to work through the underlying issues that the individual is dealing with, instead of trying to force abstinence where it is not viable. The Guest House believes that individuals engage in self-defeating behaviors as a result of past traumatic life events and other underlying issues. We believe that through holistic care, you can let go of the unhealthy coping skills you have adopted and learn new, healthier coping skills to help you find healing and recovery. We know that recovery isn’t something that you can easily solve with minimal effort in a short period of time. We believe that recovery is a life-long working goal that takes commitment, but it is possible if you are willing to work hard. 


Process addictions can be dealt with in safe and healthy ways if you are willing to work through the trauma you have experienced. We understand that process addictions are legitimate diseases and require help to treat. The Guest House can offer you the help you need to treat your process addictions and live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. If you or a loved one is struggling with a process addiction, such as gambling, sex, and food addictions, that has formed as a result of trauma or other underlying issues, The Guest House can help. We are fully equipped to treat individuals struggling with substance and process addictions. If you have questions or want to learn more about what The Guest House offers, call us today at (855) 483-7800. We can’t wait to hear from you and help get you started on the road to recovery today. Help is out there. You can recover. Call us now.