Taking behavioural and process addictions seriously
Not all addictions stem from drug abuse and more often than not, those suffering with behavioural addictions are stigmatised even more so than those with substance abuse problems. Many do not fully understand the seriousness of mental illness and the different forms it can take, but by accepting that a loved one is suffering with an addiction, no matter how silly it may seem, you could help someone take their first step towards a better future.
Remove the stigma
It’s important to remember that behavioural and process addictions can be just as damaging as substance addictions. Just because a sufferer is not always damaging their body physically, does not mean there is no damage at all. Behavioural addictions tend to cause serious mental harm and are sometimes more difficult to spot than alcohol or drug abuse, as the addiction may at first just seem like a personality quirk.
Bulimia, gaming, shopping, sex and co-dependency are just some of the behavioural and process addictions that one may fall victim to and must be treated with the same care and understanding that substance addiction receives. Many people still do not believe that these types of addictions are really addictions at all and that can be extremely damaging for someone who is trying to deal with the illness. Try to be there for a loved one and direct those who need it towards the right kind of help – no one should have to go through it alone.
Look for the signs
There are several warning signs that a loved one may be suffering from an addiction, such as partaking in an activity more often than is socially accepted or feeling restless and irritable when unable to engage in their addiction or self-destructive behaviour. However, one of the most damaging warning signs is the inability to focus on anything other than the addiction itself. Academia, career, family – all of these important life events take a back seat when someone has behavioural and process addictions.
Professional addiction rehabilitation paired with addiction counselling is the best way to combat the issues and can help to give someone their life back. Although behavioural and process addictions are often associated with those who already have underlying mental health issues, this does not mean that others cannot be affected. Addiction can become an issue for anyone and can be ‘triggered’ by certain life events, just like substance addiction. This is another reason why counselling is such an important part of treatment, because without fixing the root of the problem you cannot fully cure the addiction.