Addiction Model (PEMS)

This guide is structured by the PEMS addiction model. Using the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of the disease, we will explore everything we have learned to help your recovery.

The PEMS model of addiction can be described by the following diagram:

Notice that each aspect — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual — touches every other aspect. In fact, if you can imagine each area overlapping and gradually blending into each other area it would be a more accurate picture.

Physical Aspects

Physical aspects of addiction include the physical effects of drugs and other substances (whether they originate from outside or inside the body), the reality of the environment that surrounds the addict, and the addict’s actual behavior (including what is done for recovery).

Emotional Aspects

Cravings, mood swings, and other emotional factors play a part in the development of addiction and its recovery. Emotions are biochemical, and they affect and are affected by what we drink, eat, use, how we act, and how we think.

Mental Aspects

Obsession, dichotomous thinking, deprivation or diet mentality, delusion, and other forms of mental mismanagement degrade judgment and insure continuation of the addiction. Thoughts are also neurochemical processes, so whatever affects our biochemistry is likely to affect our thoughts, and vice versa.

Spiritual Aspects

Isolation from family and friends and from a Higher Power insures that this distorted judgment will proceed down the road of addictive behavior without productive guidance.

Alcoholism vs. Other Addictions

There is almost nothing we have learned about alcoholism that does not have its counterpart in every other addiction. Below each addiction’s thin but important layer of specific characteristics, all addictions are the same. The goal of recovery, in each case, is Abstinence from certain behaviors, and Moderation.


Addiction model (PEMS), see also: Abstinence, Addiction, Alcoholism, Allergies, Emotional aspects, Mental aspects, Models & concepts, Moderation, Moodifiers, PEMS model, Physical aspects, Recovery, Spiritual aspects.

Updated 4 Oct 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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