Process addictions, or addictions in which a person becomes dependent on a behavior, are very different from substance addictions but equally destructive to a woman’s mental health. Process addictions include gambling, shopping, the internet and sex addiction.
Behaviors offer stimulation that can become addictive. Frequently, women become addicted to a behavior because it fills a void caused by emotional breakage. Addictive behaviors can relieve feelings of emptiness, worthlessness and anxiety. However, the signs of behavioral addiction can be harder to spot than those of substance abuse.
The emotional rewards of addicting behavior cannot truly heal the wounds of anxiety, depression, anger or trauma. They can only provide a momentary reprieve. Beneath the addiction lies the real issue waiting to rear its head again, worse and more painful than before.
When women create an unhealthy life to avoid pain, they further harm themselves by not living their own truth. The lie demands the perpetuation of behaviors that harm mental health and prevent women from reaching their full potential. At best, unhappiness will always linger around the edges of a woman’s life. At worst, mental illness destroys her potential for happiness.
Residential treatment programs enable women to face this truth in a safe environment. Once women accept and understand the fractures that drive their behaviors, hope, joy and a life worth living become possible.