Types of Addictions

Table of Contents
-Physical Addictions
-Behavioral Addictions
-Signs of Addiction

What is addiction?

The answer to this question is more complex than you might expect.

Addiction can be either physical or behavioral, and often they go hand in hand. Though alcohol and tobacco are commonly recognized types of addiction, there are actually hundreds of types of medically and scientifically recognized addictions.

On the surface, addiction means someone repeatedly participates in behavior that has negative and often unhealthy consequences. When you look closer, it becomes clear that the cycle of addiction is caused by dysfunction in the brain, linked to genetic and environmental factors.

The brain creates a compulsive craving for a specific substance or behavior, and one gets stuck in the cycle of seeking the reward that follows indulging that addiction, regardless of the outcome.

Cravings, compulsions, inability to stop, and lifestyle dysfunction all point to the existence of some type of addiction. A person can be addicted to behaviors just as seriously as one can be addicted to substances such as alcohol or hard drugs.

The addictive behaviors that result from both types of addiction can have serious negative consequences though, from all that comes with a substance use disorder to the perils of a gambling addiction, or even compulsive shopping and sexual behavior to an unhealthy degree.

Addiction is a complex disease. The type of addiction doesn’t really matter as much as the underlying issue causing the patient to chase that pleasurable feeling while incurring adverse consequences.

These adverse effects with the development of addiction can include financial issues, destructive behavior, relationship issues, family conflict, and the negative feelings that come up as a result of these things.

Types of Addiction

Most addictions can fit within three categories, which  follow:

  • Behavioral addiction: Primarily addiction is associated solely with substances, like alcohol or drugs; but one can also be addicted to specific behaviors. Common addictive behaviors include shopping, sex, gambling and video gaming. The compulsive behavior gives the user a rush or high similar to what those addicted to a substance experience.
  • Substance addiction: Substance addiction creates a physical dependence on a specific chemical. People can be addicted to prescription medication, such as opioids, or illicit drugs, such as crystal meth, heroin or cocaine and Alcohol which is the most common type of substance addiction.
  • Impulse addiction: Impulse control lack can lead to impulse addiction. Someone with an impulse control disorder struggles to manage their emotions and actions. This disorder may make someone prone to theft, emotional outbursts like crying or anger or destructive behavior. Approximately 10.5% of people have an impulse control disorder, according to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Behaviors that arise with impulse control disorders can become addictive as in providing the person with some kind of release/fix. If you have an impulse control disorder, you are especially susceptible to the compulsive behavior that could lead to a severe addiction. Similarly, mental health issues or mental disorders can exacerbate the risk for both a substance use disorder and a behavioral addiction.

Addictions can also be categorized as follows:

Physical Addictions

Physical addictions are the ones that are generally better known. These are addictions to substances that are ingested or otherwise put into a person’s body. Some common physical addictions include:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Opioids
  • Prescription drugs
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamines
  • Hallucinogens
  • Inhalants
  • PCP

Physical addictions can generally be grouped into three categories: alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs.

  • Alcohol addiction is arguably among the most common. It manifests in the form of alcohol dependency, binge drinking, or regular heavy drinking. Alcohol addiction often starts with social drinking and then progresses further and further until one finds him or herself dealing with an unbreakable addiction.
  • Illicit drug addiction is an addiction to illegal substances that cause short-term disruptions in the brain resulting in an altered perception of reality. Illegal drugs cause long-term changes to the brain and other organs, leading to severe addiction.
  • Prescription drug addiction is using approved medications in any way that has not been prescribed by a doctor. This is becoming increasingly problematic in the United States today.

Addiction, whether physical or behavioral, impacts many parts of a person’s life. Repeated use of substances or repeated behaviors results in physical brain changes, leading to impaired learning, decision-making, memory and judgment. Over time, addiction causes organ damage and increases risk of contracting a communicable disease. Addiction is known to cause depression and/or suicide and affects relationships with family and friends. Legal problems and financial woes are also common issues that result from addiction.

Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral addiction is classified as any time that one loses control of their actions in order to engage in behaviors that result in brief feelings of happiness. That person becomes dependent on the pleasurable feelings that come as a result of certain behaviors and begins to compulsively act on that behavior.

Some common behavioral addictions include:

  • Eating/Food Addiction
  • Sex Addiction
  • Internet Addiction
  • Pornography Addiction
  • Using computers and/or cell phones
  • Video Game Addiction
  • Work Addiction
  • Exercise Addiction
  • Spiritual obsession (not to be confused with religious devotion)
  • Seeking pain
  • Cutting
  • Shopping Addiction
  • Gambling Addiction

Physical and behavioral addictions are often linked. Over half of those suffering from addiction to one substance are also using other substances. Additionally, those battling substance abuse disorders often suffer from behavioral addictions as well.

There are many similarities between substance addiction and behavioral addiction. Some of the similarities include the excitement or “high” resulting from use or behavior, craving the “high”, development of tolerance leading to increased use or repeated behavior, loss of control, and psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms.

Dependency is when a person needs something in order to function normally and is often accompanied by increased tolerance and symptoms of withdrawal when the drug or behavior is no longer present. It is a gateway to addiction. A person can be dependent without being addicted if it does not cause a person to engage in compulsive or harmful behavior. If you find yourself or a loved one becoming dependent on any substance or behavior, it is important to seek help as soon as possible to avoid getting to the point of addiction, which is even more difficult to overcome.


Both genetic and environmental factors influence decisions and circumstances that lead to addiction. It is a confusing and challenging path to travel, not only for the person suffering but also for their friends and family members. It’s important to know that no addiction, regardless of what it is to, is un-treatable. Professionals can effectively treat addictions of all types, both physical and behavioral. Personalized treatment plans allow people suffering from addiction to ease through withdrawal and learn to live without their addictions.

It is possible to return to a healthy life with the help of the appropriate behavioral therapies, medication assisted treatment, exercise, and a sense of community. There are a variety of treatment options available and our compassionate treatment team is here to help with your substance abuse disorder, whether you choose residential treatment or outpatient. We do dual diagnoses of co-occurring disorders so we can get to the root of the addiction. Often, addiction is indicative of other underlying issues and is a way to self-medicate for the patient. We can provide the proper medical treatment to alleviate both.

Zorba Wellness is one of the best rehabilitation centre in Chennai and Rehabilitation Centre in Kolkata.

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