What are the 3 Types of Addiction?

types of addiction
What are the 3 Types of Addiction? annie spratt 5xYoebAZokc unsplash

What exactly is addiction? The answer is more complicated than you might expect. On the surface, addiction implies that someone engages in behavior that has negative and often unhealthy consequences on a regular basis. When you look closely, you can see that the cycle of addiction is caused by brain dysfunction, which is linked to genetic and environmental factors.

The brain creates a compulsive craving for a specific substance or behavior, and you become trapped in a cycle of seeking the reward that comes with indulging that addiction, regardless of the outcome.

Addiction is a disease that can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Which of the following are the most common types of addiction? We will go over them in detail below.

Types of Addiction

Many addictions can fit into three categories, which include the following:

Substance addiction: Many people associate addiction with substances such as alcohol or drugs. However, you can become addicted to specific behaviors. Shopping, sex, gambling, and video gaming are all examples of common addictive behaviors. The compulsive behavior provides the user with a rush or high similar to that experienced by those addicted to a substance.

Substance Abuse: Substance abuse causes a physical dependence on a specific chemical. Prescription medications, such as opioids, or illicit drugs, such as crystal meth, heroin, or cocaine, can lead to addiction. Alcoholism is also considered a type of substance addiction.

Addiction to impulses: Impulse control disorders can lead to addiction to impulses. Someone suffering from an impulse control disorder has difficulty controlling their emotions and actions. This disorder can lead to theft, emotional outbursts, or destructive behavior. According to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, approximately 10.5% of people have an impulse control disorder. Behaviors associated with impulse control disorders have the potential to become addictive. Other mental health issues, such as substance abuse, can coexist with impulse addiction.

The following are examples of specific types of addiction disorders.


Alcoholism is a common addiction, with over 14 million adults in the United States suffering from an alcohol use disorder. Recognizing alcohol addiction can be more difficult than other substance use disorders. Alcohol is legal for adults over the age of 21, and binge drinking is acceptable in many social groups and settings. While it is possible to consume and enjoy alcohol responsibly, addiction can have serious consequences.

Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to cognitive impairment and health problems such as liver disease. Abuse of this substance can also result in alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.

Tobacco Addiction

Tobacco is widely recognized as an addictive substance. This substance contains nicotine, whether in cigarettes or chewing tobacco. Most tobacco users begin at a young age — nine out of ten smokers begin before the age of 18 — and it is a difficult addiction to break. Nicotine elevates adrenaline and dopamine levels, resulting in a pleasurable smoking experience. However, smoking has serious health consequences.

Tobacco use is a leading preventable cause of death. Tobacco use kills millions of people each year. While the dangers of tobacco use are well known, users frequently experience withdrawal symptoms, both physical and mental, when attempting to quit.

Sex Addiction

Although sex is a healthy part of many people’s lives, it can develop into a behavioral addiction. Compulsive sexual behavior characterizes this addiction. For some, this means excessive pornographic or masturbatory consumption. For others, sex addiction means engaging in sexual behavior with partners. Whatever form the addiction takes, it usually comes at the expense of your relationships — and possibly your health.

Sex addiction is not included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which makes it somewhat controversial. However, this dependency is still frequently discussed. The inability to control sexual thoughts and behaviors may indicate that addiction should be discussed.

Drug Addiction

When people think of addiction, one of the first things that comes to mind is drugs. Addiction can occur to a wide range of drugs, and the cycle of addiction can be difficult to break. Cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine use can quickly lead to addiction. Addicts exhibit compulsive drug-seeking behavior and struggle to balance their addiction with their other responsibilities.

Addiction to drugs can lead to health problems, difficulties at school or work, financial problems, and the deterioration of relationships with friends, family, and coworkers. While drug addiction is often stigmatized, it is important to recognize that there are numerous contributing factors. Addiction is a disease caused by a mix of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors.

Video Game Addiction

Gaming is a common form of behavioral addiction. While this activity can be a fun way to relax or spend time with friends, it can also become an unhealthy addiction. A video game addict places gaming above relationships and other activities. This addiction, like many others, can obstruct responsibilities such as education and work. It can also lead to financial problems. Despite not having the money, some people will continue to buy games or upgrade their gaming experience.

Because video game addiction does not have as many obvious consequences, it can be more difficult to recognize and seek help for. It is not physically addictive or harmful in the same way that alcohol or drugs are, but the consequences are still very real.

Internet Addiction

The internet is a tool that is practically everywhere. We use it for school, work, and leisure. The internet is almost always a tap or click away on smartphones, tablets, and computers. This has made life easier in many ways. We can quickly find the answer to almost any question. We can communicate with friends and family from all over the world.

On the other hand, the internet and its associated screen time have drawbacks. Many of us spend hours mindlessly scrolling through our social media feeds. Despite the fact that internet addiction is not yet officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, research indicates that it is a widespread problem.

Addiction to video games and online gambling can both be classified as internet addiction.

Shopping Addiction

The term “retail therapy” is commonly used. When you are down, you go out and buy something new. If you indulge in it on a regular basis, it is a relatively harmless outlet for negative emotions. However, shopping, like any other behavior, can become compulsive. Approximately 18 million Americans are addicted to shopping. The negative consequences of this dependence are largely financial.

Some people who are addicted to shopping may go out of their way to feed their addiction. They keep buying even though they do not need or want more items. This may result in credit card debt and the opening of new credit cards. A shopping addict may face a negative impact on their relationships as their financial burden grows, especially if they share finances with a partner or spouse. 

Gambling Addiction

Gambling and other behavioral addictions have negative financial consequences. Compulsive gambling, like other addictions, is motivated by the sense of reward that comes from placing bets. No matter how many losses you suffer, the compulsion drives you to keep going. Gambling addicts can deplete their savings, destroy relationships, and even steal to fund their addiction.

Tolerance, like other addictions, can build up over time. You may find that you need to place larger bets more frequently to achieve the same sensation. Some people prefer a single game, such as online poker, whereas others prefer multiple outlets, such as casino table games, slots, and online betting forums.

Food Addiction

Food addiction can have serious physical and psychological consequences. Obesity, chronic pain, anxiety symptoms, and depression are all possible side effects of food addiction. This addiction may be a way of coping with difficult emotions, such as stress. Food, particularly food high in fat, sugar and salt, can trigger the brain’s reward system. You may find yourself compulsively eating even if you’re not hungry.

While food addiction can involve eating a variety of foods, certain foods are thought to be triggers for this dependency. Ice cream, candy, pasta, and chips are frequently associated with compulsive eating.

When Do Addictions Need to Be Treated?

Addiction is a complicated condition caused by a number of factors. In some cases, people can recognize their addiction and break the cycle on their own. Most people require assistance. There are trained treatment providers available who can assist you in regaining control of your addiction so that it no longer harms you.

If your addiction is affecting your quality of life, you should seek treatment. Addiction treatment can help you move forward, whether the negative consequences are physical, emotional, social, financial, or any combination of these. Treatment may be a one-time event or a lifelong process. Treatment is recommended if you are struggling or failing to stop using a substance or engaging in a particular activity.

Start the Recovery Process

Opus Health focuses on your recovery by offering a personalized treatment plan. We provide comprehensive addiction treatment programs that include both counseling and medication to assist you in dealing with and managing your addiction. Everyone’s story is unique, and we tailor our care to you. If you recognize that you require assistance, you have already taken an important step toward recovery. Make an appointment with us today to get started on your recovery and your life.

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