Different Types of Addiction Defined and Explained

Different Types of Addiction Defined and Explained


What are the various types of addiction?  Certainly there is a difference between someone who smokes cigarettes every day, to someone who is addicted to gambling, to someone who is addicted to food, right?

I believe there is a difference.  In the end, the difference may not matter much, because addiction is still addiction, for the most part.  But here is how I think about addictions in my own mind, and how I think they should be classified.

Drug addictions should be separate from other addictions.  Gambling, sex, video games….these are not in the same category as drug addiction, in my opinion.  Apparently there are now treatment centers for video game addiction.  To me this is crazy; I cannot even picture such a rehab or what kinds of therapy they would offer.  (Obviously, holistic treatment and an introduction into balanced lifestyle would be a good start…but still this would be awkward, no?).

To me, the real difference when we are considering these types of addictions is to consider the effect that is produced.  Drug addiction is characterized by being intoxicated due to the addiction.  You take drugs (or alcohol) and get messed up and so you take more.  Part of the addiction is fueled by the effect that the drugs have on you.  Once you take the drug, your ability to make good decisions is compromised.  This is an important distinction, in my opinion.

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Most of these other addictions such as sex, food, gambling, and so on–they do not have this same characteristic.  Eating some food or having sex does not mess your brain up in the same way that a drug does in terms of your decision making ability.  Yes, it can and does have an effect, but not to the same extent that drugs and alcohol do.  Putting chemicals into your body seriously compromises your ability to think straight.  With these other forms of addiction, the activity only affects the brain in a much smaller way.  Yes, it still affects it.  But not nearly as much as a fifth of vodka does.

So to me, this principle is what separates the different kinds of addictions.  The so called “secondary” addictions are still addictions, don’t get me wrong. But they do not self-perpetuate as much as chemical addictions do, because they leave our mental faculties intact. Drugs and alcohol seriously compromise our mental faculties, and therefore this puts them on a whole other plane of “addictions.”  They are more severe, more limiting in some ways.

Just my 2 cents…what do you all think?

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