Types of Addiction

Types of Addiction

Types of Addiction

Who gets
addicted? Sounds like a silly question,
but it’s an important one. What is your
addiction? Is it a substance like
alcohol or double cheeseburgers? Is it
gambling, or professional success? Is it athletic activities, or is it
indulging in some creature comfort?

All of us are Body,
Mind, and Spirit

To understand types
of addiction, we need to accept the fact we are all body, mind and spirit, and all
three aspects of the human condition come into play when discussing the subject
of addiction. If you accept that fact,
then you can understand that addiction is as much about the spirit as it is
about the mind and body.

That is why
Alcoholics Anonymous came to the conclusion in the 1930’s that a spiritual
solution was necessary to overcome the addiction to alcohol. Addiction is a chronic condition, a disease
of the brain, which manifests itself in a variety of physical ways to be sure,
but there is no cure. Other chronic
diseases have their own physical characteristics, but addiction really does
involve the entire person.

Brain is tricked

In order for
addiction to develop, the brain has to be tricked into thinking that it needs a
substance in order to function “normally,” and the absence of that substance is
cause for alarm. For example, one of the
criteria for addiction is dependence.

Something might not necessarily be physically addictive, but
psychologically addictive. That is the
brain wanting the drug. You’ve often
heard someone say, “I need a drink,” in response to a difficult situation. That’s an example. They think they need the drink in order to
calm themselves and collect their thoughts. Some types of addiction trick the brain more than others.

That would also serve as an example of drug abuse, which is making a
conscious decision to use a drug inappropriately. While it is not uncommon for people to take a
drink, if that drink becomes “necessary” or if taking the drink is a
prerequisite to action, that’s abuse.
You should be able to cope with stress and solve your problems without
the drug.

What is abuse?

Let’s back up
for a second. Abuse is using the drug
for something other than its intended legal or medicinal purpose. Having a drink is fine, getting drunk is not
a good choice. Taking Vicodin as
prescribed by your physician will help you deal with pain, but taking too many
pills, or taking them too often, is abuse.

Addiction, on the other hand, is not being able to make that choice
whether or not to take the drug. Addicts
must take the drug. They might say they
can quit, they might even claim they are cutting down, but in truth they

So, abuse is making a bad
choice. Addiction is when you lose the
ability to choose. That is why addicts
can literally use until they overdose, or until their bodies quit. My friend Joe Herzanek, author of “Why Don’t
They Just Quit?” calls it suicide by the installment plan.Many types of addiction lead death.

withdrawal, using more than intended

Regardless of
the type of addiction, three or more of the following must be in play for the
person to be considered “addicted”: tolerance, withdrawal, using the substance
for longer periods and in amounts greater than intended, much time spent trying
to obtain the substance, sacrifice of social or recreational or occupational
activities in order to use the drug, continued use despite knowing problems
caused by the substance, inability to stop.

Need more and more of the drug

When people take
a drug over a period of time they can develop a tolerance to it, meaning that
they will need to use more to achieve the same effect. This
brain dis-regulation clouds judgment and accounts for why addicts can’t stop
“cold turkey” on their own without help.

Types of addiction that cause physical
addiction is when the body needs the drug to feel “normal” and if the person
does not get the drug, they suffer withdrawal symptoms. An alcoholic might need to take a drink the
first thing in the morning, because they feel “sick.” Cocaine addicts crave
their drug of choice, a desire so intense that they will sometimes do whatever
is necessary to get it, regardless of the consequences. They can’t just quit, they need to use their

Addictions can be impulsive

Some addictions
are compulsive behaviors. They don’t
require a substance. For example,
gambling, or computer games, or pornography or “shop till you drop.” Granted, some of these are regular behaviors,
but people will always push the limits of any behavior, so they suddenly find
themselves in trouble and can’t quit.

Treatment does help!

Regardless of
type, addictions can be treated and there are treatment centers for just about
any condition. The sad reality is that
addicts may not want treatment. They may
think they can control their behaviors, or offer their own solutions, or they
just don’t think they have a problem at all. Because we are body, mind and
spirit, and because we are all inter connected, addiction is a family

Think of it, addiction impacts
every member of the family and because of that all members of the family need
treatment, not just the addict. In order
to recover, addicts need not only treatment, but the right kind of support to
help them live a healthy and productive life.

There is always hope.

Whether it is a
psychological addiction, or a physical addiction, there is treatment and
hope. People do recover and enjoy life regardless of the types of addiction.

That completes our section on Types of Addiction; visit our home page for more information.

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“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
– Matthew 7:7-8

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