A person can become addicted to a process or behavior in much the same way they become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Process addiction is becoming more and more common, but not many people understand it or are able to treat it successfully. At The Beach Rehab we are fortunate to have a skilled team of professionals that are explicitly trained in the treatment of process addictions, including one of the only Certified Sex Addictions Therapists in the whole of Asia.

What is Process Addiction

Process addiction includes gambling addiction, gaming addiction, cyber addiction, and sex addiction. From a physiological perspective, process addiction is a lot like substance addiction. The behavior that the person engages in – be it gambling, gaming, or sex – triggers the brain’s reward system and delivers a release of the neurochemical dopamine. When the process gets repeated, more and more dopamine is supplied to the brain, tolerance increases, and the person is encouraged to continue the behavior with greater intensity and without regard to consequences.

The effects of process addiction can be just as devastating as those of drugs or alcohol addiction. Process addictions can lead to job loss, financial problems, and dissolution of personal relationships including marriages. Process addiction even result in serious health problems as a result of engaging in high-risk behaviors or remaining sedentary for extended periods of time in front of a screen.

Types of Process Addiction


Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is when a person is unable to stop gambling even though they are suffering negative consequences like accumulating large debts, missing work, neglecting or abandoning relationships, and more. Initially, the potential financial rewards of gambling can propel addiction, but as the addiction continues to progress, even is the person experiences great losses as a result of their gambling, they will still be unable to stop. A person may gamble through a variety of channels including online or in-person, sports or events gambling, card games, or on the popular ‘pokie’ machines.

Gaming Addiction

Gaming addiction is when someone loses the ability to control their use of online or console games. Due to widespread use of the internet and technology, gaming addiction is gaining in momentum, and the trend will only continue to escalate.

Adolescent males are particularly vulnerable to gaming addiction, but like all addition, gaming addiction does not discriminate. As gaming addiction progresses, the person may experience severe consequences including: complete isolation, loss of employment, dropping out of school, or even suffer adverse health effects like weight loss from refusing to eat.

Games console handset
woman is addicted to mobile device

Cyber addiction

Cyber addiction includes ‘screen addiction,’ addiction to social media, or mindless internet surfing, and often co-occurs with gaming addiction. Since the use of technology is so pervasive in our society, cyber addiction can be difficult for some people to recognize, and even more difficult to treat. Nonetheless, like all other addictions, cyber addiction can have devastating effects on one’s life, namely isolation and withdrawal, disassociation, and in extreme cases can lead one to completely disconnect from reality in an attempt to mask underlying emotional or psychological issues.

Sex addiction

Sex addiction is when a person has lost control over their sexual urges, fantasies, and behaviors. Sex addiction ruins relationships, careers, finances, and mental health, and often co-occurs with drug or alcohol addiction. Much like other addictions, sex addiction involves a preoccupation or obsession with sex and an inability to control, moderate or manage sexual behavior. Sex addiction can also result in physical withdrawal symptoms, internal conflict, and intense feelings of shame.

Treatment of Process Addictions

In many ways, process addictions are a lot like substance addictions, but they also differ in some regards. For cyber and sex addiction, an abstinence-based model is not practical, so we first educate the client about what is going on in their brains and then work over a long period of time to regulate the behaviors. The client will work with their counselor to determine when and how to reintroduce the behavior in a healthy and controlled way.

As is true for all addiction treatment, group therapy is incredibly helpful for clients with process addictions. When it comes to process addiction, many people are initially unaware that they are actually suffering from the disease of addiction. They have hidden and isolated themselves, thinking that they are alone in their struggle, but this is not the case.

Upon entering treatment at The Beach, clients immediately begin engaging in group therapy and are able to relate to and connect with others who have had similar experience and challenges. This can be a truly awakening moment that allows the client to begin addressing their addiction and working through the process of recovery.

As with substance addiction, an initial detox and ‘cooling down period’ is prescribed in treating process addictions. At The Beach Rehab Thailand, we offer the Dopamine Diet and innovative Nutraceutical Therapy, which are ideal for providing those with process addictions a chance to cool down their systems and nourish themselves with a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients. After an initial stabilization period, a client can then commence with more intensive psychotherapy to begin tackling the core of their addiction.

The missing piece

Process addictions like gaming, gambling, or cyber addiction can lead a person to isolate or remain sedentary in front of a screen for long periods of time. With a balanced diet and active participation in our Outdoor Therapy program, clients are able to reenage with nature and regain physical fitness, strength, and confidence that they have been lacking for years.