Different Types of Addiction: A Brief Overview

Addiction can often be a challenging topic for people to discuss and even more difficult to experience.

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics released a recent report stating 8.1 million people in the United States currently live with a substance use disorder. 14.8 million live with an alcohol use disorder. If you or a loved one is experiencing the signs and symptoms of addiction, please know you are not alone.

Learning about addiction is an excellent first step toward seeking recovery for yourself and your loved one. To begin, addiction is often categorized into types: chemical and behavioral. Understanding these two categories provides a solid foundation for identifying signs and symptoms within yourself or a loved one.

Let’s dig in.


Chemical addiction involves using substances, a few common examples being:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Opioids
  • Methamphetamines
  • Amphetamines
  • Prescription drugs
  • Intravenous drugs

This list is not exhaustive, as many substances can lead to addiction.


A substance use disorder can be complicated to identify, as many people who suffer from a chemical addiction frequently attempt to shield or hide their symptoms.

If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms, it might be time to seek professional help:

  • You feel as though you need a particular substance to function.
  • Your intake levels increase over time.
  • You are spending large amounts of money on the substance and are neglecting other financial obligations.
  • You experience withdrawal without the substance.
  • You notice negative changes in your appearance.
  • Your use of the substance is negatively affecting your work performance.
  • Your social and familial relationships face challenges due to substance use.


There are several treatment options available for substance use disorders. Inpatient programs, rehabilitation, outpatient therapy, or group therapy, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, are all ways to treat chemical addiction.

If you’d like to learn more about available treatment options, please do not hesitate to reach out today.


Behavioral addiction may be less commonly discussed than chemical addiction, but it affects many people.

Behavioral addiction is generally thought of as a behavior pattern that causes significant issues in your life. It is still an underdeveloped and under-researched concept, and only two types of behavioral addictions are formally recognized by the DSM-5: gambling and internet gambling.

That said, many experts believe behaviors related to sex or eating can lead to behavioral addictions.


A few common signs or symptoms of behavioral addiction are:

  • You are unable to refrain from the behavior.
  • You use the behavior as a coping mechanism.
  • You engage in the behavior despite adverse outcomes.
  • You frequently lie about the behavior.
  • Your relationships are negatively impacted by it.
  • You feel irritable, restless, or depressed when trying to stop.

Once again, this is not an exhaustive list of symptoms. If a habitual behavior causes significant problems in your life, it may be time to seek professional help.


Because research on behavioral addiction is ongoing, treatment interventions are not as clearly defined. However, that does not mean treatment options are nonexistent. For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to address behavioral addiction is one of the most effective modalities used by therapists today. There are also support groups and potentially some medications that can help you manage challenging behaviors.

Addiction is a serious and complex topic that should not be ignored. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, know that you are not alone. Please do not hesitate to reach out today to learn how we can partner together on your journey toward healing.





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