When most people think of addiction, they think of dependence to substances such as alcohol or drugs. This is likely due to the fact that there’s an estimated 23.1 million Americans over the age of 12 who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). However, while substance abuse disorders make up a significant part of the addiction that is faced by people the world over, there are many other types of addiction, specifically behavioral addictions, that are also dangerous and detrimental to one’s well-being.
What is Addiction?
By definition, addiction is a primary, chronic disease that affects the reward, motivation, and related systems in the brain, causing profound psychological, social, biological, and even spiritual impairment. Unless treated, addicts will experience continuous relapse as the individual is unable to control or resist the impulse behavior and struggles to make rational choices, even when facing negative consequences. While there are some who can engage in addictive behaviors without them becoming problematic, for most, addiction causes daily hardship that can range from trivial to life-threatening.
Types of Addiction
Addiction to alcohol and drugs are the most publicized types of addiction due to the intoxicating, mind-altering effects of alcohol and drugs. However, there are many other things to which a person can be addicted, many of which are behavioral. Many of these behaviors are addictive because they provide a rewarding, pleasurable feeling each time the behavior is repeated, which causes individuals to engage in the behavior compulsively. Here are some of the most common types of addiction from which many individuals the world over are suffering from today:
Of all the types of addiction that a person could have, addiction to gambling is considered the one that’s most similar to alcohol and drug addiction. In fact, gambling addiction so closely resembles alcoholism and drug addiction that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reclassified gambling addiction from an impulse control disorder to an addictive disorder. In scans of the brain, gambling activates almost the exact same areas of the brain as the abuse of alcohol and drugs, which has led many addiction programs to include treatment of gambling addiction alongside addiction to alcohol and drugs.
Since an individual must be an adult in order to gamble, gambling addiction has affected many families. Particularly, one or both parents who have a gambling problem will often have periods in which they lose control over their addiction, leaving their children to feel neglected and forgotten. Gambling addiction causes rapid and profound financial destitution, which has led to foreclosure and loss of homes, repossessed cars, astronomical debt, loss of employment, and so on.
Although whether it’s officially considered one of the types of addiction or not, the American Psychiatric Association recently considered officially recognizing sex addiction as “hypersexual behavior disorder.” Part of the difficulty inherent in defining and diagnosing sex addiction is because it takes different forms and manifests a breadth of symptoms from one addict to the next.
However, among the most effective and common treatments for hyperactive and impulsive sexual behavior is the traditional 12-step program such as Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), which has shown to alleviate the symptoms more than almost any other form of treatment available.
Of the many different forms of sex addiction that have been identified, some include being addicted to the romantic component of sexuality, porn addiction, sex addiction marked by exhibitionism or voyeurism, sex with anonymous strangers, and sadistic and/or masochistic sex. While many of these types of sexual intercourse aren’t unhealthy in moderation, the sex addict has become addicted to the pleasure or euphoria that are part of the sexual experience, requiring so much more sexual activity that it negatively affects other areas of the individual’s life.
Spending or Shopping Addiction
It’s normal for people to enjoy going shopping on occasion; however, when the need to spend becomes a persistent, compulsive urge, the individual could be suffering from shopping addiction. Rather than being considered one of the types of addiction, the compulsive need to shop and spend money is actually identified as an impulse control disorder as it is most often used to self-medicate, covering up feelings of sadness, guilt, disappointment, fear, and so on.
Shopping addicts will often experience feelings of guilt afterward, but this guilt isn’t stronger than the relief that the initial spending provided from negative or unpleasant thoughts and feelings. The most successful treatments for shopping addiction has shown to be both group and individual counseling as well as cognitive behavioral therapy.
Food has been called the “drug of choice” for those who suffer from certain eating disorders. It’s true that some individuals, especially those who have been diagnosed with binge eating disorder, respond to food in much the same way that an addict would respond to alcohol or drugs. These individuals enjoy the good feelings they get when they eat, which causes them to continue eating even when they aren’t hungry.
This conditions them to respond to food in a certain way, using food as a means to feel better, happier, more content and at ease. As such, these individuals will often gain huge amounts of weight due to requiring so much food in order to deal with any unpleasant thoughts and feelings.
Despite being compared to a drug, food addiction is not considered one of the types of addiction. The opinion of experts is that binge eating is more closely associated with depression or having been raised to associate food with placating sadness or anger—parents will sometimes give a child a snack when they’re crying because the food might distract them from their tantrum—rather than being an actual addiction. Most so-called food addicts respond most strongly to behavioral therapy.
Addiction is a Disease
As you can see, there are many types of addiction, some of which is closely associated with impulse controls disorders. However, it’s important to remember that addiction is a disease. Individuals who suffer from addiction are helpless against that to which they are addicted and, without treatment, may potentially die as a result of the condition.
Fortunately, addiction is a treatable disease. Drug Treatment Center Finder was created with the goal of helping individuals who suffer from the disease of addiction find the addiction treatment programs that they need to get their lives back. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, don’t let this disease take another life. Call us and let one of our specialists begin a journey toward recovery and health for you or your loved one today.