Process addictions, also called behavioral addictions, involve actions and behaviors as opposed to substances like drugs or alcohol. These types of addiction are incredibly common and may be just as dangerous as a substance addiction. The internet has unfortunately become a common means for people to feed their process addictions. The availability of virtually anything over the internet makes it a frequent component in these addictions. Those suffering from the process addictions of eating disorders, for example, may use the internet to strengthen their motivation to partake in harmful addicting actions. Those with sex addictions and video game addictions, however, directly partake in their addicted behaviors through the use of the internet.
Over time, eating disorders have come to be more readily recognized as process addictions, largely due to the addictive behaviors associated with them. Binge eating disorder (BED), anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) are common types of eating disorders that each present with different addictive behaviors.
Increasing use of the internet plays a considerable role in the development and maintenance of these addictions. In the case of anorexia, bulimia, and EDNOS, certain forums and social media websites potentially feed a person’s addiction to food restriction or purging. There are many websites present on the internet that act as pro-anorexia, pro-bulimia, and pro-eating disorder sites. These communities provide encouragement for those with eating disorders to continue the addictive behaviors that are ultimately causing a great deal of harm. In addition, many blogs and social media sites are filled with images referred to as “thinspo.” This term is used to describe images that those with eating disorders use as personal motivation to starve themselves or purge.
Video game addiction is another form of addiction that has largely increased through the development of the internet. Most common in school-aged adolescents, video game addictions can be incredibly destructive to a person’s life. This addiction can result in sleep deprivation, poor personal hygiene, seclusion, depression, and unhealthy eating habits. In addition, excessive video game use can lead to vision damage and poor posture from constant computer use.
Though video games are often used without the need for internet, there are several games that require the internet for use. Massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, for example, are incredibly addictive, allowing for social interaction across the internet. As many as 50 percent of MMO game players would consider themselves addicted to gaming, based on being unable to successfully quit playing despite meaningful attempts. Games like these are not only addictive in the form of entertainment, but also become increasingly addictive when a person believes that others are relying on him or her in the game. They may feel obligated to continue playing so that they do not let others down.
Many people are hesitant to seek help for process addictions, as they may not recognize the addiction as an illness. However, untreated process addictions can lead to both physical and mental health damage. If you or a loved one suffers from a process addiction, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatment for process addictions.