Addiction is a challenging condition that affects people of all ages, all over the world. There are many different types of addiction, all of which don’t discriminate by race, gender or any other factor. Just about anyone can fall victim to addiction in their lives. It can be very difficult to recover, especially if you try to do it on your own. Here’s an overview of some of the most common types of addiction and the most effective treatment options.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a physical or mental condition that drives a person to engage in substance abuse or problematic behaviors. A person in the throes of addiction will continue to engage in these behaviors, even when they know how harmful the consequences of their actions can be to their health and other areas of their life. Over time, the person loses their ability to control their actions and their entire way of life may begin to revolve around their addiction.
Both substance and behavioral addictions can have severe consequences in your daily life, ranging from physical complications and mental disorders to legal and financial issues. Because of this, it is in your best interest to address your addiction as quickly as possible. This way, you’ll have a chance to regain control over your life so you can work towards becoming happy and fulfilled without your addiction.
When most people hear the term “addiction,” substance addiction is often the first thing to come to mind. Many people have known others who have abused alcohol or drugs to the point of addiction or have experienced it themselves. This can apply to both legal substances, like prescription medications and cigarettes, and illicit drugs, like methamphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin and more.
With substance addiction, also called chemical addiction, you will have incredible difficulty controlling your use or giving up the substance. Two of the most predominant factors that lead to substance addiction are tolerance and dependence.
When ingesting a substance, legal or otherwise, it impacts your body and mind, often in ways that seem positive at first, like pain relief and anxiety reduction. However, over time, the same dosage will have less of an effect, forcing you to consume even more of the substance to get the same results. As your tolerance continues to increase over time, you’ll have to take more and more of the substance, fueling your addiction even further.
Dependence can refer to both physical and mental aspects of addiction. Many addictive substances will have positive effects while you are taking them. When the amount of the substance in your body begins to drop, though, there can be negative side effects, in some cases severe enough to lead to hospitalization or even death. As the substance wears off, you’ll likely experience physical cravings, making you feel the need to take more to mitigate the side effects. This is the effect of physical dependence and is known as withdrawal.
Mental dependence is a bit more difficult to identify and treat as the effects aren’t necessarily visible. You may find yourself feeling anxious when you are close to running out of your preferred substance. You may also turn down opportunities to spend time with your friends in order to use instead. You’ll likely have difficulty disassociating substance use with certain activities, like always smoking a cigarette after a meal, even if your body isn’t really craving one. With mental dependence, it is more about breaking the habit than allowing your body to detoxify.
There are many different substances that can lead to addiction, though some are more likely to become addictive than others, typically due to the physical withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol and cigarettes are common, legal substances to which you can become addicted, as are prescription medications, like sleeping pills, pain killers, anti-anxiety medications and more. Though these medications can be beneficial in the short term, they can have serious long-term consequences if you don’t take them as directed by your doctor.
Many illegal drugs are highly addictive, especially heroin, crack, cocaine and methamphetamines. Even seemingly innocuous drugs like marijuana, which is legal in several states, can lead to addiction over time if you aren’t careful.
Behavioral addiction, also called process addiction, isn’t as widely recognized as substance addiction, but it is still entirely possible for a person to become addicted to a particular action or pattern of behavior. Many behaviors can have positive effects like drugs do, and you can become addicted to those effects, driving you to continue to perform the behavior that delivered them.
This type of addiction results in a loss of self-control over your behavior, even if it is negatively affecting your career or personal relationships. Some common behaviors that can be addictive include:
- Sex, masturbation and pornography
- Social media
- Playing video games
Of course, there are many other actions that can lead to a behavioral addiction but those are some of the most prevalent.
With behavioral addictions, the addiction is more mental than physical. Behavioral addictions don’t typically result in physical withdrawal symptoms but you can definitely experience mental withdrawal. Just because there is no physical withdrawal, though, doesn’t mean that process addictions are any less serious than substance addictions. A behavioral addiction can still have a severe impact on your daily life.
It is also possible to experience multiple addictions at the same time in what is known as a co-occurring addiction. You can be addicted to multiple substances at once, multiple behaviors or even a combination of the two. For example, you could suffer from a gambling addiction while also being addicted to cigarettes if you chain-smoke while you play poker. In some cases, the co-occurring addictions are somehow related to one another, like in the previous example, but it is also possible for them to be entirely unrelated, like if you have a shopping addiction and also abuse prescription pills when you are at home.
The reason that co-occurrence of addiction is so common is that both behavioral and substance addictions target your brain’s pleasure center, triggering positive feelings. No matter how you get those positive feelings, you can become addicted to them over time.
Consequences of Addiction
Whether you are addicted to watching television or can’t get through a day without using cocaine, the consequences of your addiction can affect virtually all areas of your life. While engaging in substance abuse or addictive behaviors, your mind is so focused on feeding your addiction that you may lose your ability to make sound decisions. Your addiction takes over, running your life rather than allowing your brain to judge how you should behave.
Chemical addictions can result in a variety of physical complications, including organ damage, brain changes, weight loss or gain, stumbles and falls, and even thoughts of suicide. There is also the possibility of overdosing, which could result in death if you aren’t able to get medical attention in time to save you. You may also engage in risky behaviors like having unprotected sex or sharing needles, putting you at risk of a variety of diseases and infections.
You may also experience problems at work. Your performance on the job may suffer as a result of substance abuse or behavioral addictions, and you might miss days to engage in your addictive behaviors. This could result in the loss of your job, which could put your financial stability at risk. Spending a lot of money on drugs or alcohol can also negatively affect your finances.
Your addiction can also cause issues in your personal life. You may find that you lose your relationships with close friends and family members as a result of your addiction. If you have children, you may also lose custody of them as the other parent tries to protect the kids from your addictive behaviors.
Finally, you could find yourself in trouble with the law, especially with addictions to illegal substances. A court case will likely cost you a lot of money in legal fees and court-ordered fines, and you could even wind up in jail, particularly if this isn’t your first offense. Jail time can have major ramifications for the rest of your life, possibly preventing you from finding employment or regaining custody of your children.
Common Treatments for Addiction
Although there are many different types of addiction, treatment generally follows one of two paths: medical treatment or behavioral treatment. It is also common to use a combination of the two, especially in cases of substance addiction.
If you are seeking treatment for a chemical addiction, the first step will be to rid your body of the substance to which you are addicted. Depending on your drug of choice, this can be quite a difficult and dangerous process. As your body progresses through stages of withdrawal, you may require medical intervention to keep you alive. Heroin addiction, in particular, can have an especially risky detoxification process.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is another option for substance addictions. With this method, you’ll take a different, less addictive medication to help reduce your cravings and mitigate withdrawal symptoms. This method is most commonly used in cases of opioid addiction, including many prescription medications. Your doctor or addiction specialist will carefully monitor the dosage in MAT, reducing your dose over time to wean you off the substance.
Behavioral treatment is used to treat just about every type of addiction. This style of treatment involves retraining your brain to avoid the addictive substance or behavior. You’ll learn a variety of tools and coping mechanisms to help you make smarter choices and replace your addiction with healthier behaviors.
While in treatment, you’ll likely go through several therapy sessions to help you learn how to combat your addiction. These sessions can take place in both individual and group settings. Individual sessions will help you get to the root of the underlying issues that drove you to addiction in the first place. This way, you and your therapist can carefully evaluate the various components of your life to identify areas for improvement.
In group sessions, you’ll have the chance to share your story with others while also hearing about their experiences with addiction. This can help you build the support group you need to have the best chance at success in your recovery. Hearing from others in similar situations to your own can help you feel like you are not alone. Knowing that there are others out there going through the same feelings and emotions you are can give you encouragement to push forward, even on difficult days.
Many treatment centers provide a combination of individual and group therapy, giving you the chance to reap the benefits of both methods. This way, you can tackle your addiction from all sides. Once you have left the treatment facility, you’ll be armed with a variety of tools and techniques to help prevent you from relapsing in the future.
Get the Help You Need to Overcome Your Addiction
Acknowledging that you have a problem with addiction is the first step towards recovery so congratulations for recognizing that you need help. Here at Recovery Oasis, we can help you battle a variety of substance and behavioral addictions. We’ll work closely with you in group and individual therapy sessions to help you uncover the causes of your addiction so you can work through them.
If you are addicted to opioids or illicit drugs, we provide medication-assisted treatment as well, helping you to rid your body of the harmful substance while minimizing the effects of the withdrawal period. Our medical director has more than 17 years of experience in this area so you can have confidence that you made the right choice in coming to us for help.
We welcome you to get in touch with us to learn more about our addiction rehabilitation services. Our associates will be happy to answer any questions you have about how our program works. We’ll set you up with a free consultation to learn more. Call now to get started.