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What Are the Different Types of Addiction?

What Are the Different Types of Addiction?
Raul Haro
July 10, 2023
When people think of addiction, they often don't realize that there are several types of addiction. Most people think about chemical or physical addictions. These are indeed the most common addiction type, but someone can also develop an addiction in other ways. The other types of addiction are psychological addictions and behavioral addictions. Addictions are […]
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What Are the Different Types of Addiction?

When people think of addiction, they often don't realize that there are several types of addiction. Most people think about chemical or physical addictions. These are indeed the most common addiction type, but someone can also develop an addiction in other ways. The other types of addiction are psychological addictions and behavioral addictions. Addictions are often the result of substance use disorder (SUD), self-medicating behaviors, and factors beyond someone's control. Other factors include race, gender identity, sex, culture, environment, family history,  economic status, genetics, and peer pressure. 

Each of these types of addiction requires specialized care to help someone achieve recovery. As a result, some mental health care facilities will specialize in one addiction type or more.  

Pathways Wellness Center specializes in chemical and psychological addiction treatment. Chemical addictions require medical oversight to help someone detox and overcome withdrawal symptoms. Pathways employs medical personnel on staff to oversee the medical needs of our clients. Having such personnel and treatment options ensures clients can recover from addiction in a safe and comforting environment.

Understanding what types of addiction exist and the signs of each helps de-stigmatize addiction. With more education, more people are encouraged to seek help.

The 3 Types of Addiction

Addiction can be broken down into three different types of addiction. These are chemical, psychological, and behavioral addictions. 

Chemical: This type of addiction, also known as a physical addiction, is categorized by the development of a chemical dependence on a drug or substance. The brain relies on a delicate network of chemical signals to keep the body running. When the brain is subjected to being repeatedly bathed in mind-altering foreign chemicals, it can cause the brain to form a dependence on said chemicals. 

If the brain cannot get these chemicals, it causes withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms vary depending on the particular drug or substance, but they can cause headaches, nausea, tremors, and even medical emergencies in severe cases. Chemical addictions require supervised detox and sometimes even medical intervention to fully recover. 

Psychological: This type of addiction is caused when someone begins to psychologically depend on a substance, drug, or behavior. They often feel as though they need a drug, substance, or behavior to function normally. Usually, someone battles a psychological addiction alongside a chemical or behavioral one. For example, someone may genuinely believe that they need alcohol to sleep without nightmares. Someone may be afraid of facing negative feelings and memories without the use of a drug, substance, or behavior. It can cause a powerful psychological addiction that can make it difficult for someone to want to recover. Careful treatment is needed to help someone form healthy coping skills. Only then can someone recover from a psychological addiction.

Behavioral: This is when someone is addicted to specific behaviors that elicit an emotional or physical response. Sometimes it can be both. Many behaviors associated with behavioral addiction can be risky or harmful. Examples include gambling, food, sex, and thrill-seeking. Someone may also become addicted to behaviors such as internet browsing, shopping, and playing video games. 

People become addicted to the physical pleasurable act of the behavior (such as eating) and the chemical rush of dopamine (such as winning a risky hand in poker). Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is known as the “feel good” chemical. Eventually, the brain becomes used to this. It then requires increasing the elevation of risky behavior to get the same "rush" as before.

All types of addictions can cause an intrusive feeling of want and longing, known as cravings. Cravings can be difficult to ignore and can occur even when in recovery. 

Understanding the Warning Signs of Addiction

Though the types of addiction are different in how they form and how they affect the body, there are some warning signs that the public should be aware of. Knowing what to look for can be important in helping someone get treatment as soon as possible.

Perhaps the biggest warning sign for all types of addiction is how you feel when you don't have access to a substance, drug, or behavior. Feelings of panic and dread are not normal and can denote the existence of an addiction. Do you constantly and obsessively think about that drug, substance, or behavior? Would you do anything to get it or engage in that behavior? Causing physical, emotional, financial, social, and harm to yourself and others out of desperation to obtain a drug/substance, or engage in a behavior is a sign of addiction.

Control is also another indicator of addiction. Do you feel as though you can no longer control yourself, or that you feel like a different person entirely until you get that drug/substance or participate in that behavior? Sometimes people with an addiction may become irritable or struggle with mood swings, especially when dealing with withdrawal symptoms. Many times people will vow to change, only to find themselves once again engaging in substance use or participating in risky behavior. 

Sometimes people will recognize these signs but hide their addiction from others out of shame and fear. Remember that everyone is worthy of help, and no mental health care professional would judge you for needing it. Places like Pathways Wellness Center strive to offer a safe, and non-judgmental space for their clients to heal and recover from their addictions.

When someone develops an addiction, it doesn't always mean an addiction to a substance or drug. Many different types of addictions can affect an individual. Someone can even have several types of addiction at the same time. It can sometimes make treatment complicated, but it's not impossible. Here at Pathways Wellness Center in Glendora, California, we work to educate the public and our clients about addiction and its treatment. Clients choosing Pathways can expect expert-level care with compassionate, understanding staff. The journey to recovery can be long, but anything is possible with the right support, understanding, and desire to change. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call us at (888) 771-0966 today.

About the Author

Raul Haro
Raul Haro is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with sixteen years of experience working in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. As an LMFT, He has trained in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. Raul has furthered his training in the drug and alcohol field by obtaining a Masters in Drug and Alcohol Counseling through CCAPP. Raul has a background in nursing where he has been an LVN for over 25 years. Recently, he has returned to school to complete a degree in Registered Nursing. Future plans are for Raul are to eventually complete a degree as a Nurse Practitioner combining his therapy practice with his nursing skills.

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