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Behavioural Addiction Treatment Programs

What is Behavioural (Process) Addiction? 

A process addiction is when a person compulsively returns to a certain behaviour or set of behaviours despite the negative consequences.  Just as an addictive drug can cause a change in chemical signals in the body this can happen with certain behaviours such as over-eating, shopping, gambling, and compulsive sex.

What impacts does behavioural addiction have?

A behaviour may be problematic when the person continues to engage in an activity or behaviour even though it continues to have a negative impact on their physical and mental health, finances, relationships with family and friends, problems in employment, and legal concerns.  The consequences may continue to build, and the person continues to engage in these behaviours despite the consequences.  Sometimes the person may try to stop for a while but struggle to maintain periods of abstinence from that behaviour and find themselves returning to the process addiction.


When an individual chronically overeats, it is known as compulsive overeating or binge eating.  Some characteristics of over-eating may be eating large amounts of food, eating to the point of discomfort, eating alone and in secret, and continuing to eat even when the person no longer feels hungry. Individuals who compulsively overeat may be trying to numb feelings, such as anxiety, depression, or cope with low self-esteem.  There are several medical risks of overeating such as joint problems, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease, sleep-related breathing disorders, etc.


Shopping addiction is when an individual uses compulsive buying to improve their mood and reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, and boredom. The individual may become preoccupied with thinking about shopping and planning shopping trips or time to spend online shopping.  A person may experience a temporary “high” while they are shopping but it quickly depletes and leaves feelings of regret and shame.  The person may feel disappointed with the amount of time that they spent as well as the amount of money expended on these shopping trips.


Gambling is defined whenever an individual “takes a chance of losing money or belongings, and when winning or losing is decided mostly by chance” (CAMH, 2012).  Gambling examples may include – betting on card games, bingo, slot machines, lottery tickets, casino games, Internet gambling.  Gambling may have become problematic for an individual if they bet more than they can afford to lose, spending more and more to get the same excitement, others have criticized their gambling, they borrow money or sell possessions to gamble or they experience guilt around the way that they engage in gambling.


Sexual addiction is defined as “any sexually-related compulsive behaviour which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment” (Carnes, 2013) and “a pathological relationship to a mood-altering experience (sex) that the individual continues to engage in despite adverse consequences” (Carnes, 2016).  Sometimes an individual may use substances (such as cocaine and methamphetamine) to heighten the sexual experience.  Substances may also sometimes be used after the sexual experience to decrease shame and guilt over the behaviour.  A person may feel out of control with regard to their sexual behaviour and unsure of how to reach out for support and treatment.

Behavioural Addiction Treatment Programs

How We Treat Behavioural Addiction

Canadian Health Recovery Centre (CHRC) challenges traditional treatment models found in most addiction treatment centres in Ontario. We provide Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) as well as psycho-educational counselling to help our clients understand why they engage in process addictions, and how to develop out of those patterns and behaviours.  We embrace the Stages of Change model to meet the person where they are at and to coach them to take the next step in their recovery process. With an approach that recognizes neuroplasticity, or the brains ability to change and “rewire” itself, process addictions can be examined and treated making change possible and lasting.

At CHRC, we understand that counselling alone cannot treat process addiction and that nutritional therapies and support are needed to aid in the healing of ones physical and mental state. On a neurochemical level, our nutritional program offers clients the building blocks needed to rebalance their systems in a way not offered by any other treatment centres in Ontario. Our holistic treatment model addresses the person in their entirety by caring for the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual self. Taking care of the whole person is a hallmark of our treatment program, however we also recognize that families and loved ones have been affected too. We aim to serve all who process addiction has impacted through our Family Matters program which consists of a workshop and individual counselling.


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2225 Lansdowne St West 
Peterborough ON K9J 0G5