Different Types Of Addiction

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Shorter Version

Est. Reading Time: 1 Minute

Approximately 16% of drug and alcohol addicts suffer from multiple types of addiction.

Studies suggest that addiction involves a combination of biological, psychological, behavioral, and environmental factors. All addictions are characterized by continuous cravings, non-stop compulsive behaviors, and an inability to stop doing certain acts, such as abusing drugs, drinking alcohol, overeating, gambling, lying, stealing, etc.

The solution?

Fortunately, there are a number of treatments (i.e. medications, stress-management techniques, self-help exercises, support groups, and therapy) available for addicts, who want to “get clean.” There are also many ways you can encourage a loved one to seek treatment for his/her dependency problem (addiction).

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Longer Version

Est. Reading Time: 5 Minutes

It’s important to understand that addiction is a chronic condition or disease – just like asthma, hypertension (high blood pressure), depression, anxiety, kidney disease, arthritis, and high cholesterol. It’s defined as a psychological and physical inability to stop using or abusing certain drugs (i.e. heroin and cocaine), chemicals, substances, or activities. Addiction involves a continuous cycle of starting (relapsing) and stopping (remission) unhealthy behaviors.

There are various types of addiction

Types of addiction include gambling, eating, sex, stealing, porn, drug, alcohol, lying, prescription drug/opioid, working, etc. Note that some addictions are behavioral (i.e. gambling, eating, porn, sex, etc.), drug and alcohol-based, or a combo of both.

For all types of addiction, people who are addicted are unable to control how much they use a drug, chemical, or substance, and how much they engage in a particular activity. Although most addicts admit their usage or activity was initially voluntary, over time their cravings increased. Then the addiction led to a loss of control. After that, they were unable to stop.

The good news is…

There are numerous treatments to help an addict successfully manage all types of addiction. The most common addiction treatments are inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation, drug and alcohol detox programs, therapy (cognitive-behavioral, addiction, family, couples/marriage, group, and/or individual), sober living homes, prescription medications (benzodiazepines, clonidine, and anti-depressants), and support groups like the 12-Step Program, AA (Alcoholic Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), OA (Overeaters Anonymous), GA (Gamblers Anonymous), SA (Sexaholics Anonymous), etc.

But, what should I do if I think my friend or loved one has an addiction?

How can I help? Fortunately, there are also many self-help tools available if you feel your loved one is struggling with dependency issues or addiction. This article highlights tips to help you respectfully and calmly talk to your friend or loved one about their addiction.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that approximately 130 people, in the United States, die from drug addictions (i.e. opioid, heroin, cocaine/crack, etc.) each day.

~ Psychologist Note

Specific types of addiction

There are many different types of addiction, such as:

  • Alcohol Addiction                 
  • OxyContin Addiction
  • Amphetamines Addiction                              
  • Food Addiction          
  • Porn Addiction
  • Benzodiazepine Addiction    
  • Gambling Addiction   
  • Gaming Addiction      
  • Nicotine Addiction
  • Prescription Drug/Opioid Addiction
  • Heroin Addiction       
  • Ritalin Addiction
  • Cocaine/Crack Addiction                   
  • Sex Addiction
  • Codeine/Morphine Addiction
  • Inhalant Addiction     
  • Compulsive Overeating Addiction
  • Internet Addiction     
  • Shopping Addiction
  • Crystal Meth Addiction        
  • Steroid Addiction                   
  • Methadone Addiction
  • Ecstasy Addiction     
  • Methamphetamine Addiction
  • Energy Drink Addiction        

What is alcohol addiction?

Alcohol is a legal substance that is highly addictive. Those who abuse alcohol are in danger of developing a physical and psychological dependence on it. If someone becomes addicted to alcohol, they will continue to drink, even though doing so may lead to harmful consequences.

Common examples

Abuse of wine coolers, liquor, beer, mixed drinks, etc. It also includes binge drinking and heavy drinking.

What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction can occur after consuming illegal substances, prescription drugs, opioids, heroin, crack/cocaine, etc. Basically, any drug that stimulates the amygdala, the pleasure region in your brain, can lead to drug addiction. The amygdala controls and regulates emotions. Drug addiction can negatively affect your relationships, self-esteem and self-confidence, job performance, and physical and mental health.

When you’re a drug addict, your money primarily goes towards purchasing drugs – legally or illegally. As a result, you may be unable to pay your bills, increasing your risk of losing your home.  When you abuse drugs, your brain physically changes, causing you to crave them – and do whatever you can to obtain them.

At first, the drugs are appealing because of the “high” associated with them, but over time, they become less rewarding and more compulsive. In other words, it takes stronger drugs to get the same “high,” and even when that is accomplished, the negative consequences of the drug abuse typically outweigh the benefits. At this point, it is no longer in your hands – the drug has taken over.

Note: While some people can use or abuse drugs and never develop an addiction, others who are more vulnerable to drugs because of a genetic predisposition, may use or abuse drugs a few times and become addicted.

Common examples

Cocaine, amphetamines, meth, hallucinogens, bath salts, inhalants, phencyclidine (PCP or “Angel Dust”), heroin, and opioids.

Approximately 16% of Americans, over the age of 12, are addicted to drugs (nicotine, crack/cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, etc.).

~ Psychologist’s Note

What is prescription drug addiction?

Prescription drug addiction, also referred to as “opioid addiction,” is most common in those who suffer from chronic, severe, and/or debilitating pain. Because these drugs are so strong and addictive, they should never be taken for long periods of time, or abused – although it happens frequently.

Abusing prescription drugs can lead to an unrelenting addiction that may be extremely hard to break. You may initially receive a prescription for a painkiller (narcotic/opioid) from your doctor. Then you may take it as prescribed but become dependent on it after anyway.

Common examples

Abuse of muscle relaxants, sedatives and sleep medications, codeine and morphine, amphetamines, OxyContin, Percocet, barbiturates, Vicodin, Lortab, and Hydrocodone.

What is behavioral addiction?

Behavioral addiction is anything that temporarily causes you to feel extremely happy, light, and carefree. The thing that keeps a behavioral addiction going is the intense feeling of euphoria associated with it. However, some long-term behaviors can cause a person to lose control of their actions.

Similar to alcohol, drug, and prescription drug addictions, a behavioral addiction can cause you to experience continuous cravings. These cause an escalating tolerance to the behavior, impulsivity, compulsions, withdrawal symptoms, and cycles of relapse and remission.

Common examples

Abuse of gambling, porn, sex, eating, internet, shopping, gaming, etc.

Certain behaviors, especially if they are long-term, can cause you to lose control of your actions, leading to a behavioral addiction.

~ Psychologist’s Note

How can I help a loved one who is struggling with addiction?

The truth is, helping a loved one who is struggling with addiction can be really hard. It can also be long and heart-breaking, especially if they don’t think they want help or have a “problem.” Because this disease is so taxing for everyone involved, many people simply “act” as if nothing is wrong. Then they don’t have to deal with everything that goes with the addiction.

The problem is, if you don’t try to help your loved one, it can destroy them along with you, other family members, and even their friends. In other words, it’ll destroy your loved one’s relationships, lower his/her self-esteem and self-confidence, and/or possibly lead to overdoses and death. It’s important you encourage your loved one to get help – even if it’s hard for you.

Actionable Steps


Educate yourself about addiction

The first thing to do to help your loved one is educate yourself about addiction. Fortunately, there are resources available that can help you, friends, and other family members better understand dependency and addiction. Resources that can help identify their accompanying signs and symptoms, causes, treatment options, and the physical, emotional, and psychological effects – on you and your loved one.
Resources that can help you learn more about addiction include: I Want to Change My Life: How to Overcome Anxiety, Depression and Addiction,”Real People Real Recovery: Overcoming Addiction in Modern America,”Deciphering the Addicted Brain: A Guide to Understanding and Helping a Loved One Towards Recovery,” and “STOP – Things You MUST Know Before Trying To Help Someone With Addiction.”
You can also find information about addiction on the following accredited websites: “National Institute on Drug Abuse,” “Addiction Resource,” and “Center on Addiction.” If you need to speak with a trained addiction professional you can find licensed addiction therapists on the following sites: Psychology Today and American Psychology Association.
If you understand addiction, you’ll be better equipped to help your loved one seek treatment for it.


Be supportive

The best thing you can do is be supportive towards your loved one. So, cautiously talk to them about your concerns. Don’t come across as critical or judgmental. It will cause them to shut down on you. If your loved one quits talking to you, you may lose your chance to help him/her get the help he/she needs. Calmly tell him/her your concerns, but don’t push too hard.
Let your loved one know you are there if they need you and that you’ll support them 100% if they decide to seek treatment. Print out addiction resources, and leave them with your loved one. But don’t keep nagging about them. Allow your loved one to look at them when they feel ready – and be there when they call you.
You can be supportive of your loved one without making excuses for their behavior or ignoring their addiction. If you allow your loved one to experience the consequences of having an addiction, they will be more likely to seek help for it.


Take care of yourself

You can’t help your loved one if you don’t care of yourself. Understand that making sure your needs are met doesn’t make you selfish, self-absorbed, inconsiderate, or uncaring. If you aren’t in a “good place,” you can’t help your loved one who is struggling with addiction make good decisions about their own health and well-being.
So, ramp up on healthy foods, exercise on a regular basis, and get enough “Zzz” to feel rested and restored every morning. Also, practice stress-management/relaxation exercises, such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation. And, if need be – go to an AA (Al-Non) or NA (Nar-Non) support group for families and/or talk to an addiction therapist about what you’re experiencing. Remember, you matter too.
Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your loved one who is in the midst of addiction.


Set an example

Lastly, set an example. Be optimistic! Be encouraging! If you are a “Debby Downer” in front of your loved one who is dealing with addition, it will cause them to stop trying to “get clean.” More specifically, it will make your loved one feel as though they’re a lost cause. We know that isn’t true, but that is how they will most likely feel.
If you set an example (i.e. stop smoking, exercise more, eat healthier foods, take a class, etc.), your loved one may follow your lead. Reassure your loved one that even if they “fall off the sobriety wagon,” it’s not a failure. Rather, it’s just a part of the recovery process. Remind your loved one that they can and will beat the addiction.
If your loved one sees you working to improve yourself and/or “getting healthy,” they may be prompted to do the same.

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About the Author

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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