It’s normal for people to feel the desire to consume certain substances, like food or alcohol. But when that desire becomes uncontrollable, and when someone continues to use a substance even when it causes life challenges, they may be suffering from an addictive disorder.

Addictive disorders are serious mental illnesses that can affect anyone and the people who have them may not realize they have a problem at first. But it’s important to get help as soon as possible so they can start feeling better and living an enjoyable life again. In this article, we will discuss addictive disorders, the types, and some examples. Read on!

What is an Addictive Disorder?

Addiction is a chronic condition that causes compulsive drug-seeking and uses despite harmful consequences. It is a brain disease that alters how the brain works, so one becomes unable to control their impulses and priorities.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), addictive disorders are “a group of behavioral disorders that involve compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli.”

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Addictive disorders are a group of conditions characterized by repeated drug use that causes significant impairment or distress, such as substance dependence, substance abuse, and substance-induced disorders. Addiction has been defined as a chronic and relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.

The disease changes the brain’s structure and function. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that there are 6.5 million people in the United States who suffer from addiction to drugs or alcohol. That’s about 1 out of every 10 adults.

Addiction can occur for many different reasons. Some people have genetic predispositions to develop addictions, while others may be more vulnerable to addiction because they have experienced trauma or stress during their lives. 

Why Does Addiction Occur?

Addiction is a complex mental health condition that results from a combination of physical, psychological, social, and genetic factors. The exact cause of addiction is unclear, but experts believe it involves an interaction between biological, environmental, and social factors.

People who are addicted, often experience cravings for whatever substance or activity they are addicted to, which can lead them to use again even though it has negative consequences for their health and relationships with others. The symptoms related to addiction vary depending on the type of substance being abused or the activity being engaged in. 

For example, someone addicted to alcohol may develop problems with memory loss due to having too much alcohol in their bloodstream (alcoholism). People who become addicted to prescription medications may experience physical pain when they stop taking those medications because their bodies have become dependent on them (opioid addiction).

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Symptoms of Addiction

Addiction is a complex condition that can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms of addiction can vary by substance and may include physical, behavioral, and social changes. 

1. Physical Symptoms: Some physical symptoms of addiction include a lack of coordination, blurred vision, and slurred speech. These symptoms are often related to the use of alcohol or drugs.

2. Behavioral Symptoms: Some behavioral symptoms of addiction include a change in sleeping habits, eating habits and activity levels. Other behavioral symptoms include aggressive behavior or withdrawal from friends or family members. 

3. Social Symptoms: Some social symptoms of addiction include isolation from friends and family members, loss of interest in work or school activities, and continued use despite negative consequences such as legal problems or financial issues

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Other symptoms of addiction include:

  • Tolerance: The need for more and more of a substance to get the same effect.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Withdrawal from drugs can cause painful physical symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, muscle aches and pains, intense cravings for drugs or alcohol, sweating and shakiness
  • Reduced interest in activities that were once pleasurable
  • Loss of control over drug or alcohol use
  • Continued use even when there are negative consequences
  • Continued use despite repeated attempts to cut down or quit

Risk Factors for Addiction

The risk factors for addiction include:

  • Genetics: People with a family history of addiction are more likely to develop an addiction than people without such a history. However, only about half of those who have an addiction have a family history of it and even fewer have both parents with addictions.
  • Environment: People who grow up in an environment that promotes drinking or drug use are more likely to develop an alcohol or drug problem than people who do not. This includes having friends who use drugs or drink heavily, exposure to alcohol or drugs at home or at school, and access to drugs.
  • Brain chemistry: The brain changes when someone uses drugs regularly. This can lead to tolerance (needing higher doses) and withdrawal symptoms when stopping the use of the drug (e.g., nausea). It also makes it difficult for some people to stop using drugs even if they want to quit because they get unpleasant symptoms when attempting abstinence

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Major Characteristics & Examples of Addictive Behavior

 The major characteristics of addictive disorders are:

  1. Repeatedly using drugs or alcohol even though it is causing harm to your life and relationships (e.g., problems with work, school, or family)
  2. A strong desire to take the substance or engage in the behavior even when you know it’s causing harm
  3. Spending a great deal of time trying to obtain the substance or engage in the behavior
  4. People with this disorder also have difficulty controlling the amount of intake.
  5. Withdrawal symptoms when they stop engaging in the behavior

Types of Addiction

There are many different types of addiction, but they all have one thing in common: they can be dangerous and life-threatening. Here are some of the most common forms of addiction that you should be aware of:

Alcohol Addiction: This type of addiction occurs when a person has a physical or psychological dependence on alcohol. When someone is addicted to alcohol, they may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking or reduce their consumption.

Prescription Drug Addiction: Prescription drug addiction occurs when a person takes more than their doctor prescribed or uses drugs that were not prescribed for them. It can also occur when someone uses prescription medications without having any kind of physical or mental problem that requires such treatment.

Drug Addiction: Drugs like opioids can cause addiction because they affect the pleasure centers in your brain. They make you feel good and make it difficult for you to stop using them even after you’ve developed a physical dependence on them. It’s also possible for people who use drugs recreationally to become addicted if they take too much overtime or if their body develops tolerance (they need more and more over time).

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Heroin Addiction: Heroin is an illegal opioid drug that causes users to feel euphoric and relaxed when they use it.

Video game addiction (also known as “internet gaming disorder”) is a form of behavioral addiction that involves playing video games for extended periods of time without stopping. It can lead to poor academic performance and social isolation from friends and family members.

Sexual addiction:  involves engaging in risky sexual behaviors without concern for consequences. It can lead to unsafe sex practices such as unprotected sex or engaging with multiple partners without using protection against STIs or pregnancy. Women who have been sexually abused may be at higher risk for developing this type of problem because they have trouble trusting other people after being violated by someone they trusted with their bodies and lives.

Addiction vs. Dependence

Addiction: It is a brain disease that makes you crave drugs or alcohol, and you won’t be able to control yourself. Addiction is a condition that occurs when you engage in a behavior (alcohol, drugs, sex) that you know is unhealthy or harmful. 

You do this despite negative consequences. Addiction can be categorized as substance use disorder (SUD), behavioral addiction, and process addiction. 

People with an addictive disorder may experience tolerance (the need to increase the amount they use to achieve the desired effect), withdrawal symptoms when they stop using or doing something they have become dependent on, and negative effects on their health, relationships, and other areas of life.

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Dependence on the other hand is when you become physically and mentally dependent on drugs or alcohol so that your body needs it to function normally. When you don’t have it, you will feel sick and have withdrawal symptoms. This can last for months or years after you stop using drugs or alcohol.

What Are the Types of Addictive Disorders?

Addictive disorders are a class of mental health conditions characterized by a compulsive desire to engage in specific activities or behaviors. These behaviors can be harmful to the individual engaging in them, as well as to others around them.

Addiction is not just limited to the abuse of drugs and alcohol; there are many different kinds of addictive disorders that fall under this category. Some examples include:

  • Alcoholism: An alcohol use disorder is characterized by an inability to limit drinking despite negative consequences, including health problems and social impairment.
  • Drug addiction: A drug use disorder is characterized by an ongoing compulsion to seek and use drugs despite negative consequences.
  • Food addiction: A food use disorder is characterized by an ongoing compulsion to seek food despite negative consequences, such as weight gain or obesity.
  • Gambling disorder: A gambling use disorder is characterized by an ongoing compulsion to gamble despite negative consequences, including financial problems.

Addiction Diagnosis

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists ten different types of addictive disorders. These include alcohol use disorder; cannabis use disorder; cocaine use disorder; hallucinogen use disorder; inhalant use disorder; opioid use disorder; sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic use disorder; stimulant use disorder; tobacco smoking disorder; other (or unknown) substance use disorders.

Substance addiction is defined by the inability to stop using the substance despite having a strong desire to quit and suffering negative consequences due to use. It is possible for people with a substance addiction to develop a tolerance for their drug of choice over the time, which means that they need more of the substance in order to experience the same effects as before. 

If you believe that you or someone close to you may have an addictive disorder, it’s important that you seek professional help from qualified mental health professionals who can provide treatment options tailored specifically for your needs.

Treatment and Coping Mechanisms to Handle Addictions

There are many different forms of addiction, but they all stem from one thing: a desire for something. Whether it’s a drug or alcohol, nicotine or gambling, food or sex, the underlying cause is always the same: wanting something more than you want to be healthy and happy.

The good news is that there are treatments available for all types of addictions. For example, inpatient treatment facilities offer residential treatment programs where patients can receive detoxification care while learning how to cope with their addiction over an extended period of time.

Outpatient treatment centers offer outpatient services on an as-needed basis so that patients can continue working while receiving treatment for their addiction. With this type of program, they’ll still be able to go home every night instead of staying in a hospital or other facility overnight.

In addition to these options, there are also 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These groups provide support groups where addicts can share their experiences with others who have struggled with similar experiences. 


Addictive behaviors are often characterized by a loss of control over consumption, continuing to use despite negative consequences and an inability to stop using it. However, there are treatments and coping mechanisms available for it. It is important to seek help when you notice symptoms of this disorder in yourself or in someone you know.

  • busayo.longe
  • on 10 min read


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