Addiction isn’t a choice, and people suffering from it need help to recover. The disease is caused by a variety of factors and leads to long-term negative consequences that could be deadly. Effective treatment for drug addiction and behavioral addictions exists to help addicts recover.

Types of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that induces compulsive activity, despite health, social and legal consequences. A person may seem to make a voluntary choice to try a drug or begin a type of behavior, but a variety of genetic and environmental factors influence those decisions. Those factors increase or decrease the likelihood of an individual becoming addicted to that substance or behavior.

The disease of addiction can occur after ingesting drugs or alcohol or engaging in activities that stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain. It is exemplified by continued compulsive behavior that compromises a person’s health, career and relationships.

The brain of an addict physically changes when he or she continues the behavior driving their addiction, especially when the addiction involves drugs or alcohol. However, any stimulating behavior can cause changes that lead to addiction.

Addiction, whether in the form of substance use or other behavior, usually begins with a positive experience. However, the high that drugs give a drug user or the thrill that compulsive behavior gives an addict eventually result in negative long-term consequences that outweigh any short-term benefit.

Dr. Glen Hanson, director of the Utah Addiction Center, asserts, “Most drugs start off being rewarding. That gets the person interested in them… As the addiction proceeds, then some of that shifts. It goes from the reward being the attraction to a compulsive behavior. Compulsive behaviors aren’t necessarily rewarding behaviors.”

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What Are the Different Types of Addiction?

Addiction can be either behavioral or substance related. An intense feeling of emotional need or physical craving characterizes them both. Both types of addiction carry a number of other similarities, but behavioral addiction does not possess the same physical symptoms that accompany drug addiction. Experts disagree on the similarities and differences between the symptoms and consequences of the types of addictions.

Addiction can be either behavioral or substance related. An intense feeling of emotional need or physical craving characterizes them both. Both types of addiction carry a number of other similarities, but behavioral addiction does not possess the same physical symptoms that accompany drug addiction. Experts disagree on the similarities and differences between the symptoms and consequences of the types of addictions.
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Stimulants, such as tobacco, cocaine or prescription amphetamines, stimulate the brain and nervous system, causing increased alertness. Depressants, such as alcohol, marijuana and opioid painkillers, slow activity in the brain and nervous system, causing relaxation. Hallucinogens, such as LSD and PCP, drastically disrupt the way the brain and nervous system communicate, causing hallucinations.

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Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is often referred to as alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. It’s one of the most common addictions in the United States, with an estimated 16.6 million suffering from the disease. Alcohol addiction occurs when regular, excess drinking causes harm or distress.

  • Alcohol dependency and alcohol abuse: once categorized as separate disorders, now commonly referred to as an alcohol use disorder.
  • Binge drinking: occurs when an individual consumes a high amount of alcohol, between four and five drinks, in a single day.
  • Heavy drinking: occurs when an individual consumes five or more drinks on five different occasions in a single month.
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llicit Drug Addiction

Illicit drugs are outlawed substances consumed by individuals trying to obtain a high, altered perception of reality or feelings of relaxation and happiness. The drugs cause desired short-term disruptions in the brain, but they also cause undesirable long-term changes to the brain and other vital organs in the body, leading to drug addiction.

Common drug addictions include:

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine/crack
  • Synthetic drugs such as bath salts and spice
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Stimulants, such as tobacco, cocaine or prescription amphetamines, stimulate the brain and nervous system, causing increased alertness. Depressants, such as alcohol, marijuana and opioid painkillers, slow activity in the brain and nervous system, causing relaxation. Hallucinogens, such as LSD and PCP, drastically disrupt the way the brain and nervous system communicate, causing hallucinations.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death
in the United States; alcohol is the third.

What Are the Different Types of Addiction?

Addiction can be either behavioral or substance related. An intense feeling of emotional need or physical craving characterizes them both. Both types of addiction carry a number of other similarities, but behavioral addiction does not possess the same physical symptoms that accompany drug addiction. Experts disagree on the similarities and differences between the symptoms and consequences of the types of addictions.

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How Is Addiction Treated?

Addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders can be effectively treated at rehabilitation clinics and other health care facilities. Personalized treatment plans help ease symptoms of withdrawal, teach individuals to live without their addictions and prepare for the rest of their lives.

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Treatment

Addiction treatment almost always begins with supervised detox and medical treatment for co-occurring disorders. It transitions into counseling and behavioral therapy, and often involves 12-step programs or other forms of peer support.

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Recovery

Recovery is a lifelong effort for most addicts. It begins with a transition back to normal life via sober houses or transitional living facilities. Former addicts may continue to take medications to ease symptoms of withdrawal and attend support group meetings.