Are Process Addictions Medically Recognized?

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Are Process Addictions Medically Recognized?

Compulsive shopping is an irresistible urge to buy unnecessary, typically expensive items

Whether or not the medical community recognizes process addictions depends on the type of process and the particular treatment program. According to the American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), not all process addictions are recognized. For instance, conditions like excessive video game use can be considered a process addiction, but the DSM does not currently list it as a disorder. However, the DSM does list video gaming disorder as an area that requires more research. Gambling disorder is the only process addiction that the DSM currently recognizes as a behavioral addiction, and it is listed alongside other substance disorders and addictions.

The DSM lists the following issues as impulse control disorders, even though some people consider the following problems process addictions:

  • Pyromania – Urges to set things on fire, which typical in adolescent and teenage boys. It is estimated that approximately 3.5 percent of people in the US struggle with pyromania.
  • Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) – Characterized by an abnormal and recurring aggressive outbursts that are not proportionate to the stressor. The aggression is not premeditated and typically escalates to the point of rage. In many cases, the perceived stressor may not actually exist, but it is estimated that more than 16 million Americans experience IED in their lives.
  • Kleptomania – The urge to steal purely out of a sense of pleasure or gratification rather than for monetary gain. About 6 out of every 1,000 Americans struggle with kleptomania, and it accounts for about 5% of annual shoplifting.
  • Sexual compulsion – An increased urge for sexual behavior and thought processes that typically lead to numerous consequences in interpersonal life. The prevalence of sexual compulsion disorders is often difficult to determine due to its secretive nature.
  • Problematic Internet use – An excessive and damaging amount of time spent on the Internet through social media, shopping, gambling or porn viewing
  • Compulsive shopping – An irresistible urge to buy unnecessary, typically expensive items through the Internet or in person. Up to 8% of Americans struggles with compulsive shopping with an estimated 90% of those people being female in their late teens to early twenties.

People may see other disorders as process addictions, but the DSM commonly categorizes them as separate issues. For instance, food addiction is categorized as a general feeding and eating disorder within the DSM, but for other process addictions to be recognized they need further research. Fortunately, people who struggle with rarer process addictions still have treatment options available to them. Because some process addictions are not recognized, it can make it difficult for people to receive adequate treatment, and it may be more difficult for people too attend treatment if they lack insurance. We can help.

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If you or someone you know struggles with a process addiction and needs help finding treatment, then call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day to help you find treatment that will work for you. Break free from addiction and call us today.