types of addiction

Understanding the Different Types of Addiction and Their Treatments

When someone says “addiction,” the usual substances come to mind: illicit drugs, alcohol, tobacco, perhaps even that morning coffee.

However, the different types of addiction can include a broad spectrum of behaviors and products, many of which are rarely considered when the term is utilized. Here, we cover 10 of the most common addictions out there. Some have only recently begun to surface.

Some you may even have yourself.

Keep reading to discover frequently seen addictions. We guarantee you know someone with at least one.


Researchers are still studying to better understand what causes addiction. However, the most cited theories concern biological oddities and rewards functions.

According to the disease theory, a biological difference propels addiction and alters the brain. This belief may also substantiate studies showing some individuals have a predisposition to addiction.

Other theories point to the rewards center in the brain, which transforms when addictive behaviors become prevalent. This area of the brain prioritizes the addiction as it would mechanisms for survival, encouraging further negative behavior.

Still, other research indicates such actions are emotional and physical coping methods. Whatever the cause, one thing is certain: addiction can have lasting effects on not only the obsessor but on the people around him or her, as well.

Never treat addiction lightly. Individuals displaying addicting behaviors should seek treatment and advice. You can discover more about where to seek help here.

10 Common Types of Addiction

From the commonly known to the behaviors we may not think about, addiction comes in a variety of forms. An individual can become addicted to anything in the world. Here are several.

1. Cell Phones

It’s impossible to disregard the fact that many people are addicted to their phones. While some cell users may scoff at this being the first on our list of addictions, its a growing issue with serious consequences.

Many cell owners feel obliged to have their phones with them wherever they go. In studies where participants gave up their cell for a day, patients exhibited “withdrawal”: increased heart rates, higher blood pressures, an inability to concentrate or perform normally on mental tasks and a profound feeling of loss.

The CDC has also been studying the issues with cells, noticing a trend between media screen activities and heightened suicide rates. The study was partially spurred because of the increased rates between 2010 to 2015, which saw suicide rates in females jump 65% and depression increase 58%.

Treatment: Self-help is currently an accepted treatment. Companies have recently released the “dumb phone,” which only allows talking and texting. Others have even produced wooden blocks made to look like cells, but they do nothing whatsoever.

Some apps can limit the amount of time you spend on your cell. For serious conditions, smartphone addiction therapy is available.

2. Social Media

Social media addiction is linked to cell phone addiction. The average adult spends two hours a day on social media websites. The average teen spends nine.

Again, recent studies are demonstrating a startling relationship between social media addicts and depression or anxiety.

Treatment: Self-treatment and behavior modifications can lessen addiction. Because this is not yet a recognizable disorder, only some facilities offer support groups or treatment.

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3. Pornography

Although porn addiction is a highly debated topic, some experts still postulate it should be added to America’s list of accepted disorders.

Studies are controversial, but many professionals agree with science educator Gary Wilson’s hypothesis: internet porn tricks the brain into believing the user can procreate with an infinite amount of men or women, which increases dopamine and chemicals necessary for the reward centers of the brain.

Eventually, addicted individuals’ brains alter to reflect these changes.

Regardless of what the studies indicate, cases of men seeking help on this issue are on the rise.

Treatment: Many schools now offer counseling for porn addiction. Individuals can also modify daily activities to lessen the chances of viewing. Spending less time alone, changing routines and environments that lead to viewing and speaking with therapists are beneficial treatment options.

Individual and group therapy, ecclesiastical support and a 12-step program may also be helpful.

4. Food

Food addiction has recently resurfaced as a health concern, especially given the recent studies demonstrating the effect of palatable foods on the brain.

These foods are typically high in sugar, fat or salt. Like drugs, they trigger the pleasure and reward centers in the brain, overriding feelings of fullness. As a result, individuals will continue to eat to feel better.

Treatment: Treatments are being studied. However, nutritionists, doctors, and psychologists encourage healthy eating behaviors and support groups are growing.

5. Gaming

When used healthily, gaming can have an innumerable amount of benefits. However, it, too, can be a source of addiction. In fact, this year WHO announced it would be listed as an official disorder.

Media coverage of neglected children may have played a part in experts recognizing the serious nature of this addiction. In 2010, a couple’s three-month-year old child died of malnutrition as a result of her parents’ addiction.

Every addiction type has profound effects on other areas of life. Gaming is only one of them.

Treatment: Treatments at clinics are the best route here, as video game addiction is hard to beat in today’s computer-obsessed world. There, individuals are put through “detox” in a similar fashion to drug treatments.

6. Prescriptions

According to Foundations for a Drug-Free World, “In the US alone, more than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs, more than the combined number who reported abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, and heroin.”

Addiction to prescription drugs has boosted overdose deaths in recent years, causing accidental injury to become the third-leading cause of death in the US.

Treatment: Prescription drug abuse should never be self-treated. Instead, users should seek professional help. Rehabilitation centers can guide individuals through behavioral treatment or provide medications. Both treatment forms are accepted.

7. Illicit Drugs

Illicit drugs are illegal to purchase, sell or use. Examples include cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogens. Almost all illicit drugs are addictive.

Different classifications have varying effects and can lead to an insistent desire for more, which may lead to overdose.

Some of the most addictive drugs include cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

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Treatment: Like prescription pill abuse, illicit drug abuse should be handled by professionals in rehabilitation facilities. Inpatient drug rehab centers are especially helpful because they place patients in a safe, drug-free environment.

8. Alcohol

Alcohol and nicotine are considered two of the five most addictive drugs.

Alcohol dependence can wreak havoc on the human body, affecting the brain, heart, liver, pancreas and immune system. It may also increase the likelihood of cancer.

Alcohol abuse affects one in eight Americans.

Treatment: A combination of medicine and behavioral therapies works best for individuals suffering from alcohol. After-rehabilitation support groups are also advised. To avoid serious repercussions of withdrawal, it is recommended medical professionals aid individuals with treatment unless the behavior is not severe.

9. Gambling

After 15 years of deliberation, gambling was also added to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).” As many as 2 million Americans are addicted to gambling, and ten times that number have a gambling habit that seriously interferes with their life.

Treatment: For unknown reasons, antidepressants may alleviate gambling addiction. Cognitive-behavior therapy is also effective. This therapy teaches gamblers to resist their habits and focus on a healthier lifestyle.

10. Shopping

Have you ever known someone who was constantly glued to the television and who would have their phone out, waiting for an infomercial’s number to appear on the screen?

This is a classic example of shopping addiction. When this occurs, shopping or even the idea of shopping consumes one’s thoughts, bank account, and life.

Unfortunately, many professionals overlook this addiction, which is why it has been deemed the “smiled-upon addiction.” Like other addictions, however, shopping obsessions also trigger the pleasure and reward centers of the brain.

Treatment: Addictive shopping is usually triggered by a personal insecurity. A great first step in treating oneself is identifying why and how the behavior became an issue. Therapy may help with this step.

Next, make a list of questions you must answer before making any purchase. All questions should aim at evaluating if the purchase is necessary.

Finally, calculate how much the habit is costing you and write down your future dreams. Will your current behavior help you get there?

Support groups are also available for this addiction.

Hacking Your Life

This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of the many types of addiction out there. You name it, someone is addicted to it: stealing, running, lying . . .

The list goes on for eternity.

However, every addiction has a cure. If you or a loved one are suffering from a disorder, it is necessary you seek help. Even addictive behavior that is not drug related can have devastating effects on individuals, relationships, jobs and more.

Numerous addictions are rooted in coping with real-world anxiety. We may be able to help there!

There is a multitude of hacks that can reduce or even eliminate your anxiety. Check out more here.

We have only one life to live. Filling voids with addicting behaviors is not the way to live it, so let’s work together to find a stress-free, addiction-free path.