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Process addictions in 2012: food, internet and gambling

Author(s): Yi Zhang, Jie Tian, Karen M von Deneen, Yijun Liu, Mark S Gold

Traditional addiction studies have focused specifically on the use of chemical substances, while more recent studies have begun to focus on behavioral processes. Process addiction is an addiction to a natural and in many cases essential behavior such as eating and sex. Acquired continued and compulsive overeating is one process addiction similar to other activities or behaviors, such as excessive video gaming, pathological gambling, hypersexuality or excessive internet use where the addict shows loss of control, an inability to stop or modify the activity, and a range of signs and symptoms that can be as debilitating as those associated with substance abuse or addiction. Individuals with process addiction would meet criteria for addiction if their substance of abuse was considered a drug. They present characteristics like other addicts, have a chronic and relapsing course and often the addiction leaves them with loss of health, happiness and a difficulty treating the disease. Gambling has been the least contentious process addiction and will appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Food and sex have been the most difficult for the field to consider as addictions. However, food may have the clearest, long-standing scientific research behind it. In this review, we provide a summary of the literature on process (behavior) addictions and a discussion of food addiction, as well as pathological gambling and internet addiction disorder


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