Types Of Addiction

Types of addiction

Verified by World Mental Healthcare Association

Addiction is a complex and multifaceted mental health condition that can take many different forms. All types of addiction can be broadly categorized as substance addiction, behavioral addiction, process addiction, dual diagnosis addiction, and cross-addiction. It’s important to note that these categories are not always mutually exclusive, and individuals may struggle with multiple types of addiction simultaneously.

What Are The Different Types Of Addiction?

All types of addiction are:

I. Substance addictions

Substance addiction or substance use disorder (SUD) 1 is the persistent and obsessive use of substances (like alcohol and drugs) that cause mental, physical, and behavioral problems. Common SUDs, according to the DSM-5 2, include:

1. Alcohol use disorder (AUD)

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) 3 is a chronic condition characterized by excessive and compulsive alcohol consumption. It is also marked by a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.

Read More About Alcoholism Here

2. Caffeine use disorder

Caffeine use disorder 4 is a recognized condition characterized by a problematic pattern of caffeine consumption, leading to significant impairment or distress.

Read More About Caffeine Use Disorder Here

3. Cannabis use disorder

Cannabis use disorder 5 (CUD) is characterized by a problematic pattern of cannabis consumption such as-abusing marijuana. It is one of the most common types of addiction.

4. Phencyclidine use disorder and other hallucinogen use disorder

Phencyclidine use disorder 6 is a mental health condition marked by addiction to a group of drugs known as phencyclidines. People with this condition can also get addicted to other forms of hallucinogens (like psychedelics, dissociatives, or deliriants).

5. Inhalant use disorder

Inhalant use disorder 7 is a problematic pattern of inhaling hydrocarbon-based fumes, such as those found in solvents or paints, with the aim of altering a person’s mental state.

6. Opioid use disorder

Opioid use disorder 8 is an addiction to a class of chemicals that activate the body’s opioid receptors. It can develop from prescription opioid use or illicit opioid use, such as heroin.

7. Sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder

Sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder 9 is a problematic pattern of using prescription medications (such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or other sedatives) to induce a calming or sedative effect, leading to significant clinical impairment.

8. Stimulant use disorder

Stimulant use disorder 10 is a problematic pattern of using stimulant drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, or prescription stimulants like Adderall, leading to significant clinical impairment.

9. Tobacco use disorder

Tobacco use disorder 11 is a mental health condition characterized by a dependence on nicotine that causes significant impairment and distress.

Read More About Tobacco-Related Disorders Here

II. Non-substance or behavioral addictions

Non-substance types of addiction involve indulging in certain unhealthy behaviors. These behaviors are common in people with impulse control disorders 12 or who experience chronic difficulty in resisting the temptation of certain impulsive behaviors. It is also known as behavioral addiction 13 to things like:

1. Kleptomania or compulsive stealing

Kleptomania 14 is an impulse control disorder in which a person experiences a persistent and frequent urge to steal.

Read More About Kleptomania Here

2. Pyromania or compulsive setting of fires

Pyromania 15 is a type of impulse control disorder in which a person experiences a compulsive urge to start fires and participate in arson-related activities.

Read More About Pyromania Here

3. Gambling

Gambling disorder 16 is the compulsive urge to engage in gambling activities, such as sports or horse betting, poker, number or casino table games, etc. It is a progressive impulse-control disorder.

Read More About Gambling Disorder Here

4. Compulsive buying disorder

Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) 17 is a mental health condition in which a person experiences the persistent, frequent, and uncontrollable urge to purchase material possessions.

Read More About Compulsive Buying Disorder Here

5. Chronic hoarding

Hoarding disorder (HD) 18 is a mental health condition in which a person experiences a compulsive urge to acquire and accumulate material possessions, along with difficulty in discarding excessive clutter.

6. Sex addiction

Sex addiction 19 is a behavioral and impulse control disorder in which a person experiences the compulsive urge to engage in sexual activities.

7. Food addiction

Addiction to food 20 is characterized by a tendency to consume highly processed foods (such as those rich in sugar, fat, or salt), which have addictive properties such as cravings, reward sensitivity, etc.

8. Video-gaming addiction

Video game addiction (VGA) 21 is defined as the problematic and compulsive dependence on engaging in video games.

Read More About Video Game Addiction Here

9. Internet use disorder

This type of addiction 22 is marked by problematic internet use or pathological internet use. Common types of internet addiction include social media addiction, addiction to pornography, doom-scrolling, etc.

III. Process addictions

This type of addiction involves repetitive behaviors that activate the reward centers in the brain 23, leading to compulsive behaviors that are difficult to control. The different types of addiction related to specific processes include:

1. Eating disorders

An eating disorder 24 is a mental health disorder characterized by abnormal eating patterns and habits that negatively affect a person’s physical or mental health. Anorexia and bulimia nervosa are common examples of eating disorders.

Read More About Eating Disorders Here

2. Workaholism or work addiction

Workaholism 25 is popularly known as the addiction to work. A workaholic is someone who is extremely involved in his/her work and finds it difficult to detach himself/herself from work psychologically and emotionally.

Read More About Workaholic Here

3. Exercise addiction

Exercise addiction 26 is marked by an unhealthy obsession with physical fitness and exercise.

4. Spiritual addiction

Spiritual addiction 27 involves an obsessive and compulsive quest for spiritual fulfillment or piety. This involves a persistent and frequent engagement with religious rituals, pilgrimages, substance use for attaining states of escapism 28, etc.

IV. Dual diagnosis addictions

This type of addiction involves the co-occurrence of substance use disorders with mental health disorders 29. This is a common occurrence, as people who struggle with substance abuse often have underlying mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.

Similarly, people who have mental health disorders may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate and cope with their symptoms.

V. Cross-addictions

Cross-addiction 30 refers to the development of a new addiction after a person substitutes it for an older addiction or has already achieved recovery from a previous addiction. For instance, a person who has an addiction to alcohol or other drugs may also have an addiction to food, gambling, sex, gaming, or other compulsive behavior.

Difference Between Substance Use, Misuse, And Abuse

Substance use, misuse, and abuse are terms that are often used interchangeably. The key difference lies in the different intent and levels of involvement 31 with a substance, such as alcohol or drugs.

Substance use refers to the use of a substance as intended, in a healthy manner that does not result in harm or negative consequences. Substance misuse refers to the use of a substance in a way that is not intended or recommended, but that does not necessarily result in negative consequences.

Contrarily, substance abuse refers to the persistent and obsessive indulgence in harmful substances, non-substances, or behaviors that cause mental, physical, and behavioral problems. This condition mandates immediate medical help. Substance abuse, almost always, marks the onset of addiction or substance use disorder (SUD).

Addiction Treatment And Recovery

Addiction treatment typically involves a comprehensive, individualized approach that combines several medical, behavioral, and psychological interventions. The first step involves detoxification or the process of removing the substance from the body while managing withdrawal symptoms.

This is followed up with behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication to help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with addiction. The recovery process 32 is made better and surer by availing support group interventions and holistic therapy approaches (such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture).


Different types of addiction can be influenced by a wide range of factors. Genetics, environment, and life experiences can all play a role in the development of addictive disorders. Therefore, understanding the unique factors that contribute to each individual’s addiction is critical for effective treatment and recovery. It’s essential to seek professional help and social support to address addiction comprehensively and holistically.

At A Glance

  1. Types of addiction refer to various forms of addiction.
  2. All types of addiction can be broadly categorized as substance addiction, behavioral addiction, process addiction, dual diagnosis addiction, and cross-addiction.
  3. Each of these types of addiction has its own symptoms—including the phase of withdrawal and relapse.
  4. Addiction is a complex issue and many individuals may struggle with multiple types of addiction at the same time.
  5. Each of these addictions can be treated with therapy, pharmacotherapy, and self-help coping strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the true nature of addiction?

Addiction is a multifaceted phenomenon that typically involves an intense craving for a substance or behavior, a loss of control over its use, and continued engagement with it despite the negative consequences that may arise.

2. Can you have an addiction to food?

Yes, it is possible to have an addiction to food or food addiction. Also known as compulsive overeating, it is marked by uncontrollable cravings for certain types of foods, especially those high in sugar, fat, or salt.

3. How addictive is caffeine?

Regular use of caffeine causes mild physical dependence because it stimulates the central nervous system. But, unlike addictive drugs, caffeine does not pose a threat to a person’s physical, social, or economic health.

4. What is the power of addiction?

An addict seems to risk his/her own survival with his/her indulgence in the addiction of substances, non-substances, or harmful behaviors. Addiction becomes an involuntary behavior when the emotional and physical “need” to do so overcomes any natural drive for food or sex.

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