How Does the Internet Affect Process Addictions?

How Does the Internet Affect Process Addictions?Process addictions are addictions to behaviors such as gambling, sex, and gaming. Their classification has been controversial, as they were not always viewed as addictions. Engaging compulsively in harmful behaviors was once considered an impulse control disorder, yet scientists now see how addiction and impulse control overlap. Process addictions develop like substance addictions and share many causes and contributors, such as genetics and environment. An environmental risk factor that can contribute to process addictions is access to the Internet.

The Internet and Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a group of process addictions that includes anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. These compulsive behaviors are strongly influenced by the Internet. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) explains that when individuals with eating disorders begin to isolate themselves, they may turn to online communities. These communities often promote the very thought patterns and behaviors an individual needs to avoid in order to overcome these process addictions. A study shared by ANAD “exposed healthy college girls with no history of eating disorders to 1.5 hours of pro-ED sites and they showed decreased caloric intake the week following their exposure.” Even individuals with healthy mindsets are negatively affected by websites that promote disordered eating behavior.

The Internet and Problem Gambling

The Herald Sun article, “Online Gamblers More at Risk of Addiction,” states that risks for gambling addiction development nearly double when comparing online gambling to traditional gambling. The article also explains that one of the biggest risk factors for developing an addiction is being young, and the Internet allows individuals who may not even be 18 to gamble illegally. All states except Utah and Hawaii allow gambling, but the Internet allows anyone to gamble regardless of location and broadens the availability of and access to gambling options. The Independent explains that problem gambling rates are increasing across the board and among new populations, such as women. The article states, “the proliferation of online gambling has brought into the home an activity that was historically male-dominated.” The Internet makes it easier for individuals to gamble and broadens the demographics at risk for addiction.

Process Addiction Help

While the Internet can contribute to process addiction development, it can also be a powerful resource for recovery. It provides information, support, and access to resources. Call our toll-free helpline to learn more about treatment for process addictions and how you can help yourself or a loved one put problematic behaviors in the past. We are here 24 hours a day, so there is no wrong time to call.