Can You Really Be Addicted to Chocolate?
Good God, no.
Anyone who is a self-described "chocoholic" is either applying the term "addiction" flippantly or colloquially, or they have no idea what a true clinical addiction is like. Likely, it is a bit of both.
There's no doubt that chocolate contains some ingredients that are very biologically active and which can alter a person's behaviors and even their psychological responses—in some ways that seem to mirror the experience of an actual drug addict. Research suggests that self-described "chocoholics" experience cravings for chocolate, that they salivate when they learn chocolate is on the way, and that, in some instances, the desire for chocolate can negatively affect their day.
Chocolate 'Addiction' vs Drug Addiction
One could argue that, in these instances, chocolate is a mood-altering substance, but this can just as easily be applied to any number of other foods, including very healthy ones. Furthermore, someone who can't control their compulsive desire to eat chocolate may act as though they're desperate for chocolate and will do anything for it, but those people are not desperate because they fear the symptoms of withdrawal that an absence of chocolate will induce—because it doesn't induce true withdrawal symptoms.
Any drug addict who has experienced true withdrawals—severe anxiety, tremors, cramping, gooseflesh, muscle twitching, hypertension, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, watery eyes, increased respiratory rate, and rapid heart rate, among other symptoms, ones that can last for 7-10 straight days—knows full well that a chocolate addiction is, in the wider scheme of things, laughable compared to real addiction, the really dangerous behaviors caused by a real addiction, and the incredible challenges faced by true addicts.
We see chocoholics—and they tend to see themselves—as being people who love chocolate so much that it is a euphoric experience to consume it, and even an activity that is somehow against convention or 'sinful.' It may be euphoric and it may seem sinful, but it doesn't even come close to registering as a real addiction. To assert as much is to give far too much weight to what is really little more than a minor, controllable compulsion—not a clinical addiction.
Addiction is a chronic, neurobiologic disease influenced by genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors and manifests itself by an inability to control one's drug use; compulsiveness with regard to drug use; continued drug use despite evident personal harm, and drug seeking behaviors.
Can you really say that about a hungry person and a Hershey bar?