Three Different Types of Addictions

What are 3 Different Types of Addictions?

Addiction is one of the most common health conditions in the US. Believe it or not, 1 in 10 Americans will suffer from addiction at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, this is a sharp increase from recent decades.

It is likely that you or someone that you know is suffering from substance use disorder. The first tool in your arsenal of recovery is to educate yourself on the nature of the disease and how to identify if you or someone you love has a problem.

Let’s discuss the different types of addictions and how to find help.

The Different Types of Addictions

The term “addiction” covers a wide variety of conditions. Addiction is defined by a habitual and compulsive desire to utilize a particular substance, thing, or activity, despite the negative impact.

In other words, when someone is addicted, the brain has become hardwired to “need” this substance to function. There are different levels of addiction. We will distinguish them into three categories, each with its own subcategories.

Understanding addiction may seem daunting, but we are here to guide you through it step by step.

1. Physical Addictions

Physical addictions form when a substance alters your brain chemistry creating a biological dependency. This is the most well-known form of addiction. Physical addiction is commonly seen concerning alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and nicotine. Physical addictions are the ones associated with detox and withdrawal.

Unlike other forms of addiction, there is more than emotional discomfort and distress once use is suspended. Seizures, dehydration, hallucinations, and death can result from the withdrawal of some physical addictions.

Working with a medical professional is essential to detox from this form of addiction safely.

2. Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral and physical addiction is different, although they can function similarly in your brain. You can become physically addicted to a particular behavior. The key difference is that instead of the dependency forming from the use of a chemical, your body produces the substances that cause the addiction. The reward and pleasure centers of the brain are being stimulated by actions rather than external substances.

For example, when someone is addicted to social media, their brain is flooded with the neurotransmitter dopamine or the “pleasure hormone.” This can cause your brain to become dependent on this stimulus to feel pleasure.

Behavioral addiction applies to other neurotransmitters, endorphins, and hormones that may release during certain activities. Some common behavioral addictions include:

  • Eating
  • Sex
  • Exercise
  • Gambling
  • Pornography
  • Self-harm
  • Video games
  • Work
  • Shopping
  • Social media

While these addictions are not given the same emphasis as drug and alcohol abuse, they can negatively similarly impact lives. In many cases, treatment for behavioral and physical addiction is similar.

3. Psychological Addictions

Psychological addictions are arguably the most powerful type of addiction. Psychological dependence can take hold for anything, including behaviors, substances, and people.

For example, marijuana may not be physically addictive in the same way as cocaine, but in some cases, it may be harder to quit.

If someone is addicted to cocaine but doesn’t believe that they need it, they may be able to quit quickly.

Conversely, if someone truly believes they need marijuana to function, the extreme stress and anxiety of removing the substance may be too much to handle.

In this scenario, cocaine is less addictive than marijuana because of the user’s mindset.

Anybody can develop a psychological dependence, which is much harder to change than a physical addiction. Essentially, if you don’t believe that you can quit, you may not be able.

Types of Physical Addictions

Before we jump in, it’s important to note that physical addictions are treated with roughly the same methods. If you or a loved one is addicted to any of the following substances, it is critical to get help.

Alcohol Addiction

Make no mistake, alcohol is a drug, and alcoholism is a form of substance use disorder. It has its own category because it is legal and widely consumed. American culture is synonymous with drinking, so it is no surprise that as many as 1 in 6 US adults binge drink, with 25% doing so weekly.

Alcohol is ingrained in our culture. It’s hard to find a town, city, or television show that does not include a liquor store, bar, or alcohol advertisement. Just because alcohol is a part of our culture, in no way, shape, or form does that make it safe.

Some people are fortunate enough to drink on the weekends without any issues. However, even that practice is a slippery slope into addiction for many.

Alcohol is a dangerous drug that can lead to serious health complications. Withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous, even fatal. It is critical to have the proper medical attention when detoxing from alcohol.

If you or a loved one suffers from alcoholism, seek help immediately.

Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction has become extremely common in the United States. Left untreated, it often leads to the consumption of unregulated street drugs. Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs include:

  • Benzodiazepines (Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, etc.)
  • Opiates (Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, etc.)
  • Stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin, etc.)
  • Sleep aids like barbiturates
  • CNS depressants (Sedatives, Tranquilizers, hypnotics, etc.)
  • Anti-depressants

These medications can be highly effective for various conditions when taken in moderate doses as prescribed. Conversely, they can lead to serious health complications and addiction when abused.

Drug Addiction

Obviously, alcohol and prescription medications are classified as drugs. The term “drug addiction” typically connotes heroin or another opioid addiction.

Addiction to illicit street drugs is included in this category. Examples include heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, hallucinogens, ecstasy, meth, and more. Treatment for street drug addiction is critical for a user’s safety and health.

Signs of Addiction

The signs of addiction can vary between the substance used and the afflicted individual. However, behavioral and physical addictions tend to be the easiest to notice. The most common signs include:

  • Overspending (on pornography, shopping, etc.)
  • Overt overconsumption (of social media, food, etc.)
  • Defensiveness when confronted about consumption
  • Missing work or personal obligations

For substance abuse, signs can be a little more challenging to read. Behavioral indicators include lying about whereabouts, hanging with the “wrong crowd,” defensiveness, and others. For physical signs, look for:

  • Red eyes
  • Regular sickness
  • Tremors
  • Dilated pupils
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Sleep issues
  • Slurred speech

If you notice these signs in a loved one, the best thing you can do is plan an intervention for them. It’s difficult for many of us to recognize when we have a serious problem, but a nudge in the right direction can make a world of difference in our lives.

Finding Treatment

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, time is of the essence. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to stop. Below we will discuss different treatment options for the three categories of addiction.

Substance Abuse

Whether it’s alcohol, prescription medication, or street drugs, treatment is roughly the same. It’s nearly impossible to overcome these addictions on your own. Participating in a comprehensive treatment program is the most effective course of action.

We understand that not everybody can commit 30-90 days at an inpatient facility. Unfortunately, we cannot recommend outpatient treatment for substance abuse in the early days of recovery. Unlike psychological dependence and behavioral addictions, substance use disorders can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms, health complications, death, or relapse with a greater risk of overdose.

For these reasons, when classic inpatient treatment is not feasible, we recommend an intensive outpatient program (IOP) or partial hospitalization program (PHP). With these programs, you can continue fulfilling your obligations at home or work while receiving the care you need to succeed. 

Behavioral Addictions

Although it is easy to spot a behavioral addiction, it is not always clear if treatment is necessary. For example, someone who overuses social media may not experience extreme consequences. However, someone who overeats to the point of health problems should get help as soon as possible.

If behavioral addiction is getting to the point where it’s interfering with your health or personal life, it is time to consider treatment.

For behavioral addictions, we recommend starting with cognitive behavioral therapy. That may be enough support in and of itself; if not, your support team can adjust your treatment plan to include additional healing modalities.

Often addiction comes from some emotional disturbance in the past. If that is the case, you may consider trauma therapy, dual diagnosis treatment, or other specialized therapies.

Psychological Dependence

Treating a psychological dependence will involve similar tactics to treating behavioral addiction. We recommend overcoming this dependence with therapy services that reflect the nature of the addiction. To begin this process, we recommend a consultation with a respected rehabilitation facility to assess your needs and refer you to the right services.

Get the Help You Need Today

Now that you know the different types of addictions, their risks, and how to find treatment, it is time to take action. Sunshine Care Centers has a suite of specialists with over 30 years of experience in drug and alcohol rehabilitation to assist you on the road to recovery. We pride ourselves on our clean, compassionate, and secure environment. We use evidence-based addiction treatment with flexible programs that cater to your needs. 

Don’t wait to receive the help you deserve. 

Speak to a specialist at Sunshine Care Centers by calling 883-597-CARE or message us today! 


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