Whenever someone does something compulsively or cannot stop a behavior, there is a chance that they have an addiction or dependency. It’s important to determine what kind they’re dealing with to make sure they get the right help.

Addictions come in two main categories: Behavioral or physical. Sometimes, these kinds of addictions go hand in hand. Other times they happen independently.

Addictions often coincide with cravings, difficulty stopping troublesome behavior, and compulsions to continue using drugs, drinking alcohol, or performing a specific act. There is also a risk of withdrawal symptoms if the behaviors or substances are stopped suddenly.

Since thedifferent types of addictioncan all lead to cravings, tolerances, withdrawal, and a cycle of negative, harmful behavior, it’s necessary to seek support to break the cycle and move forward.

How Many Types of Addiction Are There?

Interestingly, there are hundreds ofdifferent types of addiction, but they can all be grouped into two categories: Behavioral (process) addictions and physical (substance/chemical) addictions.

Chemical Addictions

Chemical addictions, also called physical or substance addictions, are addictions involving substances of some kind.

Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral, or process, addictions, involve compulsive behaviors that are persistent or repeated despite negative outcomes or a lack of benefit.

Every kind of addiction, whether it’s a food addiction or addiction to drugs and alcohol, will fall under one of these two categories.

What Are Physical Addictions?

Physical addictions are addictions to drugs, alcohol, or other substances. Some of the most commonly recognized addictions include addictions to:

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Inhalants
  • PCP
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription medications
  • Opioids
  • Cocaine
  • Tobacco

Physical addictions occur when a substance interferes with the normal function of the brain. In particular, the substance may impact the reward center of the brain, releasing dopamine and other neurotransmitters that reward the brain for using the substance. The release of dopamine reinforces the association between the substance and a positive outcome of some kind (such as pleasure or euphoria) and results in cravings for the substance as time passes.

Unfortunately, the brain quickly gets used to the impact substances have on it. Over time, someone may need to increase how often they’re drinking or taking drugs to get the same results. Thanks to the body’s tolerance, the same amount of use won’t trigger the same dopamine release. The brain will seek a larger or more frequent “dosage” to get the original feel-good feelings back.

Tolerance and cravings may lead to a loss of control. In that case, the person living with an addiction may need professional help to start weaning off or detoxing from the substance to avoid withdrawal (the negative physical or mental effects caused by reduced intake of a substance).

What Are Behavioral Addictions?

A behavioral addiction (also known as a process addiction) is similar to a physical addiction to a substance except for the fact that no substance is involved. Behavioral addictions usually involve specific actions instead.

For example, someone with a behavioral addiction may show signs of one of these common addiction types:

  • Video game addiction
  • Gambling addiction
  • Internet addiction
  • Exercise addiction
  • Work addiction
  • Food addiction

There are dozens of other kinds of process addictions, too.

In terms of how the brain is affected, behavioral addictions work similarly to physical addictions. The primary difference is the lack of a substance that affects the body. Instead, behavioral addictions present as negative behavior patterns.

A behavioral addiction starts by experiencing something that causes euphoria or happiness. Then, over time, the brain gets used to the activities and becomes less euphoric (this is called a tolerance). The person has to do the behaviors more often or in a different way to achieve a “high,” which leads to a cycle of behavioral addiction and dependency.

When they don’t get to do the behavior, they may suffer from withdrawal symptoms like apathy or irritation. To avoid those feelings, they may spend most or all of their time on the activity.

What’s interesting to note about behavioral addictions is that while many are recognized informally, only two have formal recognition.

Gambling and internet gaming addictions are the only two behavioral addictions recognized in the DSM-5.

Get Help for Addictions With Assistance From First Step Behavioral Health

There are several methods of addressing addictions. Some of the treatment options include inpatient, outpatient, residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment. From individual counseling to support through peer groups, there are many opportunities to seek and receive help.

Regardless of the kind of addiction someone is dealing with, it’s important to get to know the options to help get back control. Contact 1st Step Behavioral Health or call (855) 425-4846 to speak to an admissions counselor who can help you get the help you need.

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