Jul 1, 2024

Types of Addiction – Understanding Various Addiction Types

Addiction is a disease that can manifest in different ways. Many people see addiction as being related only to substance use, but it’s a disease that extends beyond this, including various types of behavioral addictions – such as food or technology addictions. 

At Massachusetts Center for Addiction, we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to seek treatment for their addiction. Our professional staff is here to answer your call 24/7 at 844-486-0671.

Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a comprehensive resource on their website for individuals who are struggling with addiction and for those who care about them. 

Let’s take a look at the different types of addiction and how they can affect a person’s life. 

Substance Addiction Types 

It’s estimated that more than 20 million adults in the United States have at least one type of addiction to drugs or alcohol. This number doesn’t factor in nicotine addiction, which is estimated to affect more than 23 million people in the US aged twelve and older. 

The overwhelming majority of people with a substance use disorder never receive treatment, increasing the impact on their lives and the lives of those around them. 

Substance addiction is also sometimes referred to as chemical or physical addiction because the body becomes physically dependent. Types of substance addiction include drugs (prescription, recreational, and illicit), alcohol, and nicotine. 

Drug Addiction 

Drug addiction is an umbrella term for the various types of pharmaceutical and illicit drug substance use disorders. This addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate, but the environment and lifestyle may influence the type of substances used. 

For example, individuals who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods may be at a greater risk of illicit drug addiction, such as heroin or cocaine. A university student may be more prone to developing a stimulant addiction to Adderall or Ritalin, as these drugs are more common on college campuses. 

However, the environment isn’t the only factor, and being part of a certain environment isn’t a guarantee of drug use. 

Illicit Drug Addiction

Illicit drug addiction refers to the uncontrollable use of illegal drugs. These include drugs such as cocaine, crack, heroin, methamphetamines, hallucinogens, MDMA, illegal fentanyl, and marijuana in locations where it hasn’t been legalized.  

The impact of illicit drug addiction can be two-fold. Not only is the individual struggling with addiction and its effects on their lives, but they are also placing themselves in a vulnerable position from a legal standpoint. Even being caught with a small amount of illegal substances on one’s person can result in serious legal consequences. 

There’s also an elevated level of danger with illicit drugs, as there’s no way of accounting for the purity, or lack thereof. In 2023, there were more than 74,000 known overdose deaths related to fentanyl, many of which were due to unknowingly taking lethal doses. 

Prescription Drug Addiction 

Prescription drugs, primarily opioids, are a common cause of addiction. The use of medications, including opioids for pain relief, sedatives, and certain ADHD medications, must be closely monitored by a healthcare professional due to their high risk of misuse. 

Prescription drug addiction can develop in several ways. It might be that the person prescribed the medication uses it in ways other than how it was intended to be taken. For example, taking higher than prescribed doses of a pain medication or taking it more frequently than prescribed. 

This can also include requesting a refill of a prescription even though it is no longer needed. 

Prescription drugs may also be misused by those who have not been prescribed the medication. Sometimes, the individual to whom the medication was prescribed is aware of this. Other times, the medication is taken from them without their knowledge. 

Prescription drug addiction can be just as devastating as illegal substance use disorders, and it’s an ever-growing problem in the United States. Prescription drugs may be viewed as more accessible, especially for teens who might begin taking them out of curiosity. 

When someone begins misusing a prescription drug, they might not automatically recognize the potential for addiction. Drugs that are prescribed can feel “safer”, although they can be as dangerously addictive as illicit drugs. 

Alcohol Addiction 

Alcohol is among the most widely used addictive substances. The majority of adults of legal drinking age have had at least one drink in the past year. An occasional drink for a person without alcohol use disorder doesn’t pose a risk of addiction, but this is part of what makes alcohol so dangerous. It’s a socially acceptable drug, leading to misuse and misinformation about the risks. 

Alcohol use disorder typically develops over time. A single night of binge drinking doesn’t mean that a person is addicted. However, a pattern of binge drinking, not feeling in control of alcohol consumption, and a noticeable increase in tolerance are all signs of AUD. 

Alcoholism can be just as devastating to an individual’s life and health as other types of addiction, and recovery can be just as challenging. 

Withdrawal from alcohol can produce severe and dangerous symptoms. Those who are working towards recovery from AUD, should seek treatment and undergo supervised detox in an inpatient addiction treatment center. 

Common Behavioral Addiction Types 

Behavioral addiction is different from drug or alcohol addiction. With behavioral addiction, there isn’t a chemical dependence that changes brain structure and function. Instead, these types of addictions trigger a pleasurable response. In some cases, the pleasure response might also be connected to a feeling of relief. 

For example, someone who turns to food, shopping, or sex to relieve symptoms of anxiety or depression, could become addicted to these activities, not only for the pleasure response but also because of the temporary relief they feel from their mental health condition. 

Behavioral addiction can be devastating in many ways. Those with behavioral addiction may be putting themselves or their family at financial risk, for example. Certain types of behavioral addiction come with an elevated risk of health issues, such as food or sex addiction. 

Even though withdrawal from behavioral addiction doesn’t come with the same symptoms and risks as withdrawal from drugs, it can be an extremely challenging time. Those with behavioral addictions should seek help to overcome their addiction and develop healthy coping strategies. 

A few examples of behavioral addictions include:

  • Gambling Addiction 
  • Food Addiction 
  • Sex Addiction 
  • Shopping Addiction
  • Video Game Addiction
  • Technology Addiction 
  • Plastic Surgery Addiction

Finding Help for Addiction in Massachusetts

Addiction can take many different forms, but help is available when you need it. At Massachusetts Center for Addiction, we offer a holistic, evidence-based approach to addiction treatment that focuses on the individual. We encourage you to reach out to us today at 844-486-0671 and take the first steps toward a life of healing and freedom from addiction. 

MCA Staff
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