Types of Addiction:

Chemical & Behavioral

Table of Contents

Did you know that it’s possible to develop an addiction to just about anything?

Most people who drink a daily cup of coffee might not think that they’re addicted. But when they’re deprived of their coffee, they’re likely to feel grumpy and aloof. This is because they’re experiencing withdrawals from an addiction. 

Addictions can take many forms and some kinds are more harmful than others. By knowing about the different types of addictions and what their symptoms are, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not it’s a good idea to get treatment.

The Different Types of Addiction

There are two different ways that addiction can present itself in your life: as a chemical addiction, and as a behavioral addiction. 

The most common things that people get chemically addicted to are alcohol, tobacco, narcotics, and prescription drugs. Even though every substance interacts with the user’s body and mind in a different way, they all have one thing in common: they mimic your natural brain chemicals.

In doing this, addictive substances sometimes overstimulate the brain’s reward system. This is why so many people, against their better judgment, will make such huge life sacrifices to feed their addictions.

The Types of Addiction: Physical and Behavioral different types of addiction

Ways to Tell if Somebody Close to You Has a Chemical Addiction

It’s usually the case that friends and loved ones will notice changes in an addicted family member’s behavior. They’ll probably start distancing themselves from those they care about and will have challenges at home, school, and work. 

You can also know that a friend or family member is chemically dependent if they habitually use a drug. It’s also likely you’ll notice their behavior change at times when they’re experiencing withdrawals. They will also probably be willing to do anything to satisfy their addiction, including engaging in high-risk behaviors. 

The Types of Addiction: Physical and Behavioral alcohol addiction
The Types of Addiction: Physical and Behavioral gaming addiction 2

Ways to Tell if Somebody Close to You Has a Behavioral Addiction

It is oftentimes more difficult to identify a behavioral addiction. All human beings, at one level or another, have behavioral addictions.

Everybody has foods that they love to eat despite how unhealthy they are. Even athletes have addictions. This is why so many people seek out activities that give them an adrenaline rush. 

An activity becomes addictive for somebody when they repeatedly engage in it despite the negative consequences it has on their lives.

If you have a friend or family member who you feel is using a certain behavior to avoid their negative feelings, they might have a behavioral addiction.

Common Substance Addictions

There are many different kinds of substance addictions. People can abuse alcohol, amphetamines, opioids, and prescription drugs.

Many people don’t know they’re addicted to a substance until it is too late. The user might start trying a drug out because they’re curious about its effects. If it makes them feel good, they might want to try it again.

What people often don’t realize is that a drug’s effects are short-lived. The more that you use a drug, the more addicted you’ll be to it. It’s common for people to not think that their dependency on a drug is a problem until their lives become too difficult.

The more that you use a drug, the more tolerance you build up from its effects.

This means that you need to use more of a drug in order to experience its desired effects. In seeking to get high, many drug addicts overdose. Some people live from overdoses and some people die. 

Here are some of the most common substances for people to become addicted to. 

Tobacco Addiction

Those with tobacco addictions are dependent on tobacco products such as cigars, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. Tobacco contains nicotine, a chemical that produces dopamine in a user’s brain. This stimulates the reward center of their brain and makes them feel good.  

Since tobacco is the world’s leading cause of preventable disease, it is something to be concerned about if you feel that you or somebody you love has a tobacco addiction.

Caffeine Addiction

Since so many people around the world are addicted to caffeine, it’s easy to think that this is not an addiction to be worried about. It’s true, unlike other kinds of chemical addiction, caffeine addicts won’t usually destroy their lives in seeking caffeine, but it still has negative consequences. 

People who drink a cup of coffee every morning don’t often think that they’re addicted. But if they can’t have their coffee in the morning, they often will be irritable because they’re experiencing withdrawals. Thankfully physical withdrawal symptoms from a caffeine addiction will pass within three or four days.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is one of the most prominent and destructive types of chemical addiction.  A physical dependence on alcohol can be incredibly detrimental to a person’s health as well as their personal and professional relationships. 

Alcohol addiction is characterized by not being able to stop drinking or limit the number of alcoholic drinks that a person takes despite a desire to do so or consequences that would deter a typical person.

Whether a person is an everyday drinker or engages in binge drinking (drinking over 5 drinks in a few hours) they may qualify for a diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorder.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) involves a medically-supervised detoxification phase to safely remove a person’s physical dependence on alcohol and then a treatment phase (either inpatient or outpatient) to work on the psychological component of the disorder.

Addiction to Perscription Drugs

There are many different kinds of prescription drugs that somebody can be addicted to. This includes things like pain relievers, anxiety medications, and sleeping pills. 

There are many ways that people get addicted to prescription drugs. For some people, their addiction begins innocently.

It’s common for people to start using narcotics, such as various painkillers, to treat conditions such as pain or inflammation. If the user has an addictive personality, they might start using the medication for the wrong reasons. This can quickly lead to an addiction that destroys the user’s life. 

Even though you need to have a prescription to get prescription medications, it’s easy to get them from family and friends. Teenagers can easily get them from parents who aren’t keeping track of their medications. 

Opioid Addiction

Opioids are substances found in certain prescription pain medications and illegal drugs like heroin.  The prevalence of addictive chemical derivatives from the opium poppy has led to a pandemic of opioid addiction across the globe.  Because of the inconsistencies in the strength and concentration of heroin and synthetic variations like fentanyl, accidental opiate overdose is all too common.

Opioids are used to treat pain. But opiate users will develop a tolerance to them over time, causing the pain-relieving effects to lessen. A person will also develop a physical dependence on opiates, which leads to withdrawal symptoms if a person attempts to stop taking the drugs. The combination of tolerance and dependence leads many people to take more of these drugs than prescribed or begin using illegal opioids or fentanyl.

Methamphetamine Addiction

Methamphetamine abuse has been skyrocketing during the past few decades. This stimulant drug can be smoked, snorted, injected, or swallowed. It’s a schedule II drug, meaning that it has a high potential for addiction and abuse. 

Most meth that people use in the United States comes from “superlabs,” where highly organized teams of people manufacture the drug. These labs are mostly located on the border between The United States and Mexico.  

People who are addicted to meth often struggle to get clean. It’s common for users to go in and out of rehab centers. In order to get clean, users must go through painful withdrawals. This is why so many people refuse to get treatment for their addiction, even if they deeply want to be clean. 

There are some mental healthcare practitioners who reject the all-or-nothing approach to addiction treatment. For example, practitioners sometimes use the harm reduction model in order to inform their addiction treatment strategies.

This model is helpful for those who want to help addicts by meeting them where they need to be met. The goal is to offer addicts access to wellness and safety programs before they’re at rock-bottom. 

Common Behavioral Addictions

People have behavioral addictions (also known as process addictions) if they often lose control of themselves in order to engage in behaviors that make them feel happy. The person gets addicted to the enjoyable feelings that this behavior brings to them. 

There are many similarities between behavioral and chemical addictions. Those who suffer from both of these addictions find themselves endlessly seeking a “high”.

Both types of addicts develop a tolerance after repeatedly using a substance or engaging in the behavior. Both types of addicts also have symptoms of withdrawal when they can’t calm their addiction. The brains of both types of addicts also function in similar ways at times when they’re in the middle of an addiction.

There are many types of behavioral addictions such as gambling, pornography, sex, cutting/self-harm, and video games. With this being said, you can get addicted to almost any type of behavior. For example, there are many people who are addicted to exercise. 

Gambling Addiction

If you have a gambling addiction, you’ll be obsessed with making sports bets, playing slot machines, poker, and buying lottery tickets. You’ll choose to gamble despite how much money you’re throwing away. 

It’s often the feeling of hitting a jackpot or winning it big that drives people into gambling addictions. If you’re addicted, it’s easy to put everything you have into your addiction in hopes of digging yourself out of the hole that you’ve dug. 

Gambling addicts are frequently in debt and searching for a way out.

Surprisingly, gambling addiction is the only type of behavioral addiction listed in the authoritative guide to mental health disorders, known as The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).  

Eating Disorders

Those who have eating disorders have an irrational relationship to eating that has negative consequences on their lives. Some people with eating disorders can’t stop themselves from eating all of the time.

They have no limits to what they want to eat. They also struggle to have the self-control to not satisfy their cravings. This leads many people to obesity. Because of the health consequences related to obesity, it is the cause of many premature deaths

Other types of eating disorders include anorexia and bulimia. Both of these eating disorders affect people who have distorted body images.

Many people who are anorexic are already very skinny. Despite the anorexic person will choose to eat very little because they want to lose weight. 

Those who are bulimic will eat a large amount of food in a short amount of time before forcing themselves to vomit. Most people who are bulimic do this because they want to lose weight. 

Gaming Addiction

If you’re addicted to video games, you’ll have a tough time putting your video game down. You might choose to play video games rather than work, even if you’re in debt. It’s also likely that you’ll harm your relationships because of your addiction. 

Gaming addicts usually isolate themselves from others. This is why many friends and family members of gambling addicts don’t always know.

Sex Addiction

Sex addicts often lose control over their sexual behavior. They let their sexual thoughts, impulses, and urges get the best of them. Their addiction oftentimes gets in the way of their relationships and their ability to hold stable jobs. 

If you have a sex addiction, you might feel the constant need to be sexually stimulated. It’s possible that you’ll feel the need to engage in several sexual acts every day. If you can’t meet this need, you’re likely to experience withdrawals. 

There are many people with sex addictions who are addicted to pornography. Because of the growth of the internet, this is a much bigger problem in the world than it used to be.

You might have a pornography addiction if you struggle not to look at porn on a daily basis. You might choose to watch pornography at high-risk places such as at work and while spending time with friends. It’s an addiction that can have negative consequences on your relationships. 

Treatment Options for Addiction

There are many different types of addiction. Those who are addicted either have a behavioral addiction or a chemical addiction. Those with a behavioral addiction are addicted to certain behaviors such as sex, gambling, or eating. Those with chemical addictions are addicted to substances such as cocaine, prescription drugs, and methamphetamines. 

When you or somebody you love is struggling with addiction, it’s easy to feel powerless. What you might not know is that there are ways to get better.

If you need help we’re here for you. As one of Southern California’s top addiction treatment facilities, Sober Partners is here to support you to get clean. If you’re ready to get help now, please contact us to schedule a call. 

Different types of addictions