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What is the difference between Chemical and Process Addictions?

People can become emotionally, psychologically and physically addicted to both substances and behaviors. Even thought processes such as fantasy can take on an addictive quality when it becomes so obsessive that it interferes with responsibilities and relationships.

Chemical addictions include:

  1. Cannabis compounds (marijuana and hash)
  2. Depressants (barbiturates and benzodiazepines)
  3. Stimulants (amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine, Ritalin)
  4. Hallucinogens (LSD, PCP, Ketimine, psilocybin, and synthetic compounds such as Ecstasy that is both hallucinogenic and amphetamine-like)
  5. Inhalants (glue, paint solvents, nitrous oxide)
  6. Opiods (narcotics such as heroin, morphine, codeine, methadone, oxicodone)
  7. Nicotine and Alcohol (both stimulant and depressant)


Process addictions include:

  1. Sexual addiction 
  2. Sexual anorexia (compulsive avoidance of sexual experiences)
  3. Relationship compulsivity (seeking, avoidant or dependent)
  4. Disordered eating (binge/purge, anorexia, overeating)
  5. Gambling (casinos, financial risk taking, race tracks)
  6. Work (long hours at the office, busyness)
  7. Money (spending, debting, hoarding)
  8. Exercise (to the exclusion of relationships or to the point of injury)
  9. Internet use (gaming, chat rooms, etc)


Compulsive chemical use and behaviors as well as obsessive thought processes cause chemical and physiological changes in the brain's ability to function (now detectable through brain imagery).  Behaviors and thought processes, when they become addictive, are just as hard to interrupt as chemical addictions and withdrawal symptoms are similar.  


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