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Has Digital Media Affected Process Addictions?

Has Digital Media Affected Process Addictions?

Digital media may affect process addictions

Digital media has advanced at breathtaking speeds over the last few years. As recently as a decade ago, most people had never streamed a movie, searched for an image, downloaded a song or e-book or spent a single dollar online. However, today most people carry a powerful computer with access to digital media in their pockets via a smart phone. While there is a great advantage to having a universe of information at our fingertips, there is also a great risk, especially for people suffering from process addiction.

What Is A Process Addiction?

Certain behaviors are every bit as addictive as drugs or alcohol, because pleasure is all processed in one part of the brain. Any activity that produces excitement, risk or physical pleasure does so as a result of stimulating the pleasure center in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that manages impulse control, emotional regulation, the formation of habits and even the formation and recollection of memories, which means all of these actions can eventually serve addiction. Drugs and alcohol increase substances in the brain that promote wellbeing, but so do the following behaviors:

  • Sex
  • Gambling
  • Stealing
  • Lying
  • Spending money
  • Collecting
  • Eating
  • Exercise
  • Physical pain
  • Rage
  • Weeping

The resulting thrill or pleasure from these activities can actually medicate underlying anxiety, depression, fear or other psychological distress. Thus, many people unwittingly self-medicate co-occurring pain with compulsive behaviors the way drug addicts or alcoholics medicate their problems with chemical substances.

The term “process addiction” comes from the following process of becoming addicted to a behavior:

  • Psychological or emotional pain
  • Desperately desiring relief
  • Obsession or preoccupation with a substance or behavior that provides relief
  • Using drugs, alcohol or a behavior to relieve the pain
  • Fleeting relief from the pain is achieved
  • Negative consequences arise from the behavior
  • Guilt, shame, depression and hopelessness form
  • Psychological or emotional pain forms (repeat)

Some sufferers stick to one means of self-medication, while others move from one behavior to another and another. A cascading effect is also possible: people suffering from compulsive behavior, such as gambling or sex addiction, may turn to drugs or alcohol to treat pain further. Unfortunately, this kind of drug abuse only exacerbates the problem.

Digital Media and Addiction

While compulsive behaviors have affected people for quite some time, the advent of 24 hour access to so much stimuli through the Internet is new and worrisome. Over 90% of Americans have instant access to all of the following things:

  • Hardcore pornography
  • Virtual gambling with real money
  • Video games
  • Bargain shopping
  • Collecting / hoarding
  • Intensely violent images, films and etc.
  • Anonymous interpersonal contact
  • Constant social connections (texting, Facebook and etc.)

On the other hand, digital media can also provide resources for recovery. Recovering addicts can use their digital devices for instant contact with sobriety coaches and family members. In fact, digital devices can aid addiction recovery in many ways, but addicts and their loved ones must understand the potential pitfalls that this technology allows.

Help Treating Process Addiction

If you struggle with a life-controlling process addiction, then please call our confidential, toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now for personal care and access to the most effective treatment programs available. Our admissions coordinators can help you break the process of pain, self-medication, shame and relapse; call now for instant support.

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