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Is Chaos Addiction Affecting Your Life? Time To Get It Under Control
chaos addiction
Mental Health

Is Chaos Addiction Affecting Your Life? Time To Get It Under Control

Uncomfortable with peace?

When you hear the term "addiction," dependencies on substances like alcohol or drugs may come to mind. However, behavioral addiction, or the need to repeat actions that yield feelings of pleasure, comfort or excitement, can be just as hard to break free from.

Chaos, to some degree, is part of life. Whether starting a new demanding job, becoming a first-time parent or suffering an unexpected setback, aspects of life can be inevitably chaotic even when we don't want them to be.

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However, those suffering from chaos addiction seek out life disruptions to shake things up and break free from the norm. They may feel that having novel or difficult situations to navigate makes them feel more alive and crave novelty even when it's detrimental to certain areas of their lives, like relationships with others.

This article will explore the definition of chaos addiction – what it means, who is at risk, the signs of chaos addiction and how to seek help.

What Is Chaos Addiction?

chaotic sidewalk sunny day
(Photo by Scott Evans on Unsplash)

Chaos addiction is a fairly new term, as it's an addiction that's hard to quantify due to its abstract nature. Chaos addiction occurs when individuals actively seek opportunities to live in a perpetual state of turmoil. 

This can mean engaging in behaviors that perpetuate a state of chaos, such as overworking, job-hopping, overspending or even purposely starting feuds with friends, family members and romantic partners. 

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Though these behaviors have negative consequences in the person's life, these behaviors provide a burst of adrenaline that the person equates with excitement. 

What Are the Signs of Chaos Addiction? 

couple in a fight silhouette
(Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash)

Those suffering from chaos addiction may feel uncomfortable or uneasy when things are harmonious. Here are a few signs to look out for that may indicate a chaos addiction. 

You're busy at all times – to the point of exhaustion. People addicted to chaos often choose careers and hobbies that keep them so engaged that they don't have time for anything else. 

There's always at least one unresolved problem in your life. Those addicted to chaos need to have turmoil happening, to the point that they may pick unnecessary fights or cause issues amongst their peers just to have something happening.

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You start fights that could be resolved peacefully. People with chaos addiction not only look for issues to cause conflict over but an apology or de-escalation of the situation from other parties involved is usually met with more conflict, adding fuel to the fire to exacerbate the problem rather than looking for a peaceful solution. 

You feel uncomfortable when things are peaceful. Whether in personal relationships, work or other areas of life, those with chaos addiction feel uncomfortable when things are calm. This may cause people with chaos addiction to leave healthy and stable relationships to pursue ones with more drama or conflict. Chaos addiction can also lead to patterns of choosing romantic partners who exhibit harmful behavior. 

Who Is at Risk for Chaos Addiction?

drug addiction man with joint
(Photo by Reza Mehrad on Unsplash)

While anyone can develop chaos addiction, some risk factors may increase the chance of someone becoming addicted to chaos. 

Being raised in a chaotic environment. Many people who experience chaos addiction were raised in chaotic and unstable environments. Because of this, they equate chaos with the norm and don't feel comfortable when things are calm. A parent may have raised them with a substance abuse problem or addiction or in a verbally or emotionally abusive environment.

Present or past substance abuse. People who have experienced dependency, addiction to drugs or alcohol, or other behavioral addictions such as gambling may become addicted to the chaos these behaviors bring. Experiencing chaos addiction can be a common experience for those in recovery – where even after they've stopped using drugs or alcohol, they find themselves craving the rush of adrenaline that the conflict surrounding the dependency used to offer.

Traumatic experiences or events. People who have had a traumatic event or experience happen to them may gravitate toward chaos to avoid thinking about or processing trauma. This can be recent trauma or something that happened in childhood that continues to come back up in adulthood. 

How to Manage Chaos Addiction

woman reflects at sunset atop a mountain
(Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash)

Like with any addiction, breaking away from the need for chaos can take time to achieve. Here are a few tips for controlling chaos addiction.

Identify the source of the addiction. Take time to evaluate the things in your life contributing to the chaos. This may be personal relationships, work, living environment, or behaviors you regularly engage in that cause turmoil. 

Determine what would need to change in these areas to avoid chaos. This step can be challenging for those who suffer from chaos addiction. It's possible that giving up a certain way of life or leaving a relationship for a more stable, calm life may not seem appealing to someone addicted to chaos. However, it's important to establish goals for changing the behavior.

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Get clear on your motivation for seeking chaos. With many addictions, these behaviors start as a way to escape unpleasant circumstances, emotions or experiences that may have happened that we don't want to process or work through. When you find yourself engaging in chaotic behavior, pause and ask yourself what it is that you're truly trying to avoid by causing chaos at that moment. 

Learn to quell anxiety. Those with chaos addiction feel anxious and uneasy when things are calm in life and can experience anxiety when working toward a more stable lifestyle. When managing chaos addiction, it's important to have coping mechanisms to utilize when anxiety inevitably starts to occur as things become calmer. Deep breathing, meditation and even regular exercise are all tools that can help alleviate anxiety on the recovery journey. 

Seek help from a professional. Like with any addiction, overcoming these patterns may be hard to do alone. If you're having trouble moving past chaotic behavior, need help identifying the causes, or just need additional support, working with a mental health professional specializing in behavioral addiction can be a huge help. 


young woman reflecting looks in mirror
(Photo by Elisa Photography on Unsplash)

Like any addiction, being addicted to chaos can be hard to overcome. The first step to ending chaos addiction is to identify the issues, behaviors and motivations fueling the addiction and cultivate a desire to stop them and work toward permanent change. Working with a mental health professional can help pave the way toward recovery if you or someone you know is suffering from chaos addiction.

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