Process addictions such as gambling, food, sex and love, kleptomania are treated here at SafeHouse. These are also known as behavioural addictions, and are somewhat distinct from substance addictions like alcohol and drugs. However, both addiction groups are equally treatable utilising a similar daily program. All these addictions fall under an amended definition originally made by Doctor Martin Scott Peck in his classic treatise, The Road Less Travelled, where he states that addiction is a:
“Pathological relationship with a mood-altering substance (or behaviour) that has life threatening consequences.”
It is fairly easy to see where substances can lead to premature death, with overdoses regularly occurring on alcohol and a plethora of different narcotics. Cross use of substances, contra-indicated to augment their effects, can also produce death, while substituting one for another has been likened to changing seats on the Titanic; the ship is still going down and the concerned individual is simply in a different berth.
Some Process addictions can be envisaged fairly easily as being life threatening. Gambling debts can get one killed, compulsive sex can and has been documented as putting one’s health at risk, and is the biggest contributor to suicide of all addictions. Food disorders such as over-eating bulimia and anorexia produce powerful endogenous physiological rewards which lead to deterioration in health and death. And co-dependence, where an individual is disproportionately emotionally tied to one or more other beings, can result in stalking, violence and other crimes that threaten liberty and well-being.
Other behavioural and process addictions, some of which have been pre-empted by the modern age, are in an increasingly growing group including internet surfing, video-gaming, spending, work, exercise, cosmetic treatments (Botox), tattooing etc.
These may seem less dramatic than other substance, behavioural or process addictions, but are subtle and insidious and rob the person of their life quality. They limit their ability to be present in their own lives, and the lives of their friends and families in a robust and healthy manner.
SafeHouse uses an eclectic mix of interventions to address these including Mindfulness, the Twelve Steps, Existential, Humanistic, Gestalt and Jungian Therapy. In group and one-to-one therapies, it is not the substance, the behaviour or the process that necessarily is the key issue of empathy between addicts. Empathic responses are generated by the common associated feelings (i.e. guilt remorse and shame), the powerlessness (i.e. the inability to control), and the consequences (i.e. pain and damage to self and others) of the addiction. Peer to peer empathy, and peer to clinician between is a crucial element of treatment, which enables an overall program such as that we utilise at SafeHouse to be personally tailored to treat sufferers of behavioural and process addictions alongside substance abusers.