If there’s something you just can’t stop doing and it’s taking over your life, you may be struggling with a process addiction.

All of us have certain activities that give us satisfaction, joy and purpose. For example, we may love our work. We may adore fashion and enjoy the time we spend shopping for new styles. We may even find that sex and romance hold a special place in our lives – and that we feel most alive when we’re sharing an intimate moment with someone.

However, there are times when something that might have been a positive part of our lives becomes an unhealthy focus. It seems we simply can’t stop. Before long, we begin to hurt our partners, families and friends as our compulsive behaviors take over.

Mental health experts refer to this pattern as process addiction, or behavioral addiction. We know that this form of addiction affects hundreds of thousands of people, and that many end up losing careers, homes and relationships to behaviors they can’t control.

If you are worried that you someone you know is suffering from process addiction, now is the time to seek out the help you need.


Experts say that process addiction begins with a strong motivation to do something we find pleasurable or rewarding. For most of us, these activities are simply part of everyday life. But some people feel an overwhelming urge to spend more and more time with their favorite activity. Along the way they neglect friends and family, often emptying their bank accounts as they become more and more absorbed in the activity they seem to love above all else.

Researchers believe that almost anything we find stimulating can turn into an addiction. It turns out that these behaviorally based addictions have a lot in common with drug and alcohol addiction. Symptoms may be similar, and the impact on our lives can be just as devastating.

Here are some activities that, for some people, can turn into addictions:

• Exercise
• Sex and love


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Here are a few of the signs that you or someone you care about is suffering from process addiction.

• Most of your time is spent with the behavior you love most. You can’t stop doing it, thinking about it, planning it or recovering from it.

• You use this behavior to cope with difficult emotions or to feel better about yourself.

• You keep doing what you’re doing, even if it’s clear that you’re hurting your mental or physical health.

• You’ve tried to stop or slow down, but you can’t.

• You are neglecting other parts of your life so you can devote more time to your favorite activity.

• When you try to cut back or stop altogether, you suffer symptoms of withdrawal. For example, you feel irritable, sad or agitated – which may trigger the urge to go back to what you were doing.

• When people call you on your behavior, you get angry and defensive, deny there’s a problem or tell lies to cover your tracks.

• You try to hide or minimize the effects of your behavior. For example, if you’re suffering from compulsive shopping, you might stash shopping bags at the back of your closet where you hope no one will notice them, or use a secret credit card to pay for your purchases.


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Extensive research has confirmed that addiction is a brain-based disease, as real as any other kind of health problem. This means that any form of addiction calls for professional treatment. Even though we do not know exactly what causes addictive behaviors, we do know that:

• People may inherit the tendency to suffer from process addiction.

• People who grew up with adults who had process addictions may be more likely to develop their own addictions later in life.

• People who have suffered trauma such as violence, abuse, serious accidents, assault, rape or war may be more likely to suffer changes in brain function that may lead to process addictions.

• Acute stress such as losing a loved one or surviving a terrible disaster may lead people to focus on one behavior as a coping mechanism. This can lead to process addiction.


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Yes, you can. Millions of people have faced their addictions and, with the right treatment and support, found the strength to rebuild their lives.

The SunCloud Health team has successfully treated thousands of men and women who are seeking help in overcoming a wide variety of process addictions. We are ready to work with you and your loved ones to help you lay the foundation for a brand new life.

Our addiction experts know that no two people struggling with process addiction are exactly the same. We follow a highly personalized approach that sees you as a whole individual with a unique life story. You will always be treated as a full partner in your care and work with a team of professionals who are fully focused on helping you recover.

There are many advantages to receiving care in an outpatient setting. SunCloud Health offers you a range of outpatient options, including intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) at our Chicago and suburban locations.


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The SunCloud Health team will seek to understand the patterns of your addiction and any other mental health conditions you may be facing. It is not uncommon for people to be dealing with more than one issue at the same time – for example, exercise addiction and an eating disorder. If you are dealing with more than one mental health issue, you may have heard the terms dual diagnosis, co-occurring condition or co-morbid condition used to describe your situation.

Once we understand more about your life story and your current needs, our addiction experts will recommend a personalized course of treatment. Your integrated care plan may include:

• Immediate help with withdrawal symptoms such as sleeplessness, agitation, panic, anger and headaches

• Counseling or “talk therapy” that focuses on your unique needs. This may involve cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) or other forms of therapy.

• Family and social support to surround you with encouragement and resources for recovery.

• Group therapy that shows you that you’re not alone – and taps the tremendous power of peer support in helping you recover.

• Education that helps you understand your addiction in context and empowers you with new skills and abilities.

• Medications, if appropriate, that will help manage your symptoms and enable you to participate more fully in the recovery process.

• Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques that can help you manage day-to-day stress and feel healthier.


Find effective treatment now
(866) 729-1012 Or click here to send a secure message.


Your journey toward wellness is an ongoing process of growth and insight. As you move into treatment for your process addiction, you will see that recovery does not move in a straight line. There will be challenges along the way – but with the support of your care team, family and friends, you will make steady progress.

Your SunCloud Health care team will walk the road with you, providing ongoing treatment and support to help you achieve a healthy, balanced, satisfying lifestyle. We will provide continuing care and resources to help you live in wellness.


For yourself or someone you know
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Emily Long discusses how patients benefit from an integrative treatment approach and how that contributes to a more effective treatment experience at SunCloud Health.


As an outpatient treatment center, SunCloud Health is in an ideal position to support you for as long as you agree our services are useful to you. With multiple levels of outpatient care, you may decide to stay connected through one of our aftercare outpatient groups – or you may want to continue seeing one of our individual therapists.  We are here to provide continuous, caring support for your recovery journey.
Though we understand fully that you don’t want to spend your life in treatment, we also know from experience that a lifetime commitment to wellness is the foundation of your well-being over the long term. We will work with you to maintain a healthy outlook, which means achieving balance, honesty, and health — physical, emotional and spiritual. Our goal is to create a care plan that you can take with you forever, wherever you may go.


Dr. Marcia Nickow, Psy.D., CADC, CGP shares her thoughts on hope for recovery at SunCloud Health.

The treatment team at SunCloud gets it. They practice what they preach, they are compassionate and they are true professionals.  They all understand what I am going through and they have guided me from a hopeless place of disease to recovery and a life worth living.  Most importantly they have helped me realize that I am worth something and that I don’t have to use in order to cope with life and all that comes with it.  Recovery can be amazing.  Trust me.  The work is not easy and it is totally worth it!   Today I am alive.

~ SCH patient