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Types of Addiction

Understanding different types of addiction

It is generally recognised that there are two different variations of addiction that a person can suffer. One of those is substance addiction, which involves the abuse of legal or illegal drugs and the other is behavioural addiction, which involves no substance but instead can see a person becoming addicted to destructive behaviour.

Within these two types of addiction, there are several different substances or behaviours that a person can fall victim to and each one should be treated with the same care and consideration as the next. Understanding the similarities and differences between the types of addiction can help you and others to become more aware to the dangers.

Substance Addictions

Alcohol, prescription drugs, legal highs and illegal drugs are all substances that one can become addicted too and even if a substance is not regarded as additive, it can still cause a user to become dependent. Unfortunately, there is still a large amount of stigma attached to this type of addiction and abuse and this is largely down to the way that a sufferer’s personality can change when unable to use a substance.

Those suffering from addiction need a substance in the same way that others need food and water, and the person is more likely to become vacant, irritable and even mean when addiction has taken hold. This can become very difficult for friends, family members and sometimes even those not close to a sufferer.

Personality changes are normally due to the addiction and often cannot be controlled. It is therefore important not to judge someone or see them as a ‘lost cause’ simply because of their attitude. Substance addiction can also make an individual very unwell and alongside emotional changes, there may also be some significant physical ones. These can include, weight loss, sunken eyes, yellowing of the skin and sometimes even permanent organ damage.

Behavioural Addictions

Behavioural addictions can vary and include eating disorders, sex and co-dependency, shopping, gaming and gambling. These types of addiction are often not taken seriously and can be blamed on an ‘addictive personality’ or an individual’s bad habit. However, it is extremely important that this façade is broken down so that those suffering from behavioural addictions can seek help without the fear that they might not be taken seriously.

Apart from eating disorders, behavioural addictions do not generally tend to affect a person’s physical health and can, therefore, be difficult to spot. If you’re worried about someone don’t dismiss it as a silly fad or phase, try to offer them a helping hand – your compassion could be exactly what they need.

Both types of addiction can seriously affect an individual’s ability to live a happy and normal life, and accepting or seeking out help is the first step. Rehabilitation can help to stop substance abuse and destructive behaviour, as well as find the root or cause of someone’s long-term suffering.


If you are concerned that you or someone you care about is suffering from an addiction, help is at hand. ADT Healthcare can give you help and advice about any and all addictions including alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, shopping, eating disorders, video games and many more. Please get in touch.

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