What Are The Different Types of Addictions?

Addictive behaviors come in many forms. Find out different types of addictions and treatment options here.

What Are The Different Types of Addictions?

There are two addiction types: physical addiction is based on a substance. Behavioral addiction stems from an activity.1 

Addiction is a complex condition that can be difficult to understand and treat. There are many different types of addictions, and each one can have a unique set of causes and effects. Understanding the different types of addictions can help you or a loved one get the treatment they need. This article will discuss identifying types of addictions, the effects of addiction disorder on the brain, and treatments for the most common addictions.

Types of Addictions


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How Do Habits Become An Addiction?

Behavioral science researchers propose that addictions develop when a habit transitions into an obligation. 1 

How To Identify An Addiction

If you or someone you care about is struggling with physical or behavioral addictions, it’s vital to learn how to identify the behavioral signs of addiction. The following sections will explore the characteristics of drug addiction.

Priority Shift

If a person has an addiction disorder, they may begin displaying behavioral warning signs, for instance, neglecting their relationships, work responsibilities, or children. Unusual changes in social activities, friends, or hobbies can also signify that someone is physically addicted to a substance. 2 

Lack of Control

Individuals with addiction disorders cannot often control their addiction. For example, someone with an alcohol use disorder may agree to only drink on weekends but cannot control how much they consume. 2 

Increased Tolerance

Increased tolerance or the need to use more of a substance to achieve the same effect is a sign of chemical addiction. 2 

Increased Risk-Taking Behavior

If someone has a behavioral or physical addiction, they may begin participating in risky behaviors such as driving under the influence or engaging in unprotected sex. 2 


Withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, depression, nausea, and anxiety can all be signs of an addiction disorder. 2 

Physical Addiction

There are many different addiction types or substance use disorders regarding physical addiction. Keep reading to learn more about the most common addictions.


Alcohol use disorder is a chemical addiction recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 3 


Tobacco or nicotine use disorder is one of the most common addictions in the United States. 3 


Addiction to prescription pain relievers or heroin falls under opiate use disorder. 3 

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs can include pain relievers, sedatives, tranquilizers, and stimulants. Addiction types vary based on the prescription drugs being abused. 3 


In terms of types of substance abuse, cocaine is considered a stimulant disorder under the DSM-5. 3 


Marijuana or cannabis use disorder is one of the types of substance abuse that will benefit from additional behavioral health research. Behavioral experts have suggested that extensive research is needed regarding cannabis cravings, withdrawals, and addiction. 3 


Methamphetamine addiction, and cocaine and crack, fall under stimulant use disorders. 3 


Phencyclidine and hallucinogen use disorders are physical addictions to substances such as MDMA, LSD, and mushrooms. 3 


If a person is diagnosed with an inhalant use disorder, they are likely inhaling solvents, aerosol sprays, gases, or nitrates for their psychoactive properties. Common inhalants include paint thinner, glue, spray paint, whipped cream aerosol (whippets), nitrous oxide, etc. 4 

Behavioral Addictions

Non-substance addictions such as an addiction to television or computer games can be passive or active. Even though a mind-altering substance is not involved, the psychology of addictive behaviors can be applied to many non-substance addictions.1  The following sections will explore the most common non-drug addictions.

Food Addiction

What is the difference between addiction and habit when it comes to food? Like binge eating disorders, food addiction involves eating more than the body requires to achieve feelings of pleasure. 5 

Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is a broad category that can include pornography, visiting prostitutes, masturbation, or sex with a partner. Individuals struggling with sex addiction often feel out of control and cannot manage their urges despite the negative consequences. 6 

Internet Addiction

According to the National Library of Medicine, “internet addiction is characterized by excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges or behaviors regarding computer use and internet access that lead to impairment or distress”. 7 

Video Game Addiction

A video game addiction is a compulsive behavior addiction characterized by a lack of control over gaming. Following the psychology of addictive behaviors, a person’s gaming will escalate regardless of negative consequences. 8 

Work Addiction

Although rarely studied, work addiction is a behavioral health condition that affects many people. Researchers believe work addiction is based on an intense need for approval and success, regardless of burnout or poor health. 9 

Exercise Addiction

How can someone differentiate between obsession vs. addiction? In contrast to gym enthusiasts and people who exercise regularly, exercise addiction is classified by lack of control, time spent exercising, tolerance, withdrawal, reduction in other activities, and continuing to exercise regardless of problems that may result from it.10 

Spiritual Obsession

When studying the process of addiction, it’s essential to recognize that a person can become addicted to anything that alters their mood. Therefore, a religion or spiritual addiction is possible. 11 

Seeking Pain

According to the process of addiction, seeking pain or self-harming is considered by many behavioral health researchers to be a behavioral addiction.12 


Like drug addiction behavior, exercise addiction is a compulsive behavioral addiction. In this case, the person is addicted to exercising.

Gambling Addiction

If a person is gambling extensively, how can someone differentiate between obsession vs. addiction? According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), a gambling disorder involves ongoing, problematic gambling behavior. 13 

How Does Addiction Affect The Brain?

Physical and behavioral addictions affect the brain stem, limbic system, and cerebral cortex. 14 

When Do Addictions Need to Be Treated?

If a person is displaying behavioral or drug addiction behavior, it is time to look into types of addiction treatment. 14 

Treatments for Substance Use Disorder

There are many forms of treatment for drug addiction behavior. Read to learn about residential treatment, therapy, medication, and sober support groups.

Residential Treatment

Inpatient or residential treatment helps clients address unhealthy behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, and values in a highly structured environment. 15 


Therapies including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and assertive community treatment (ACT) are effective treatments in group and individual settings. 15 


Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs are commonly available to treat nicotine, alcohol, and opiate use disorders. 15 

Support Groups

Social support networks are integral to any recovery plan. 15 

Treatments for Behavioral Addictions

Treatments for Behavioural Therapy
Behavioral addictions can be treated using therapeutic interventions and medication management. Continue reading to learn more about these treatment options.


Evidence-based therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), are helpful for behavioral addictions. 16 

SSRI Antidepressants

According to behavioral health researchers, medications including SSRI antidepressants, opioid antagonists, and anticonvulsants show promise in treating behavioral addictions. 17