A handful of cigarrettes

Most Common Addictions

An addiction is a condition that results from a substance or activity that is pleasurable at first but eventually begins to interfere with your everyday life. There are many different types of addictions. Here are some of the most common.

Substance Addictions

Also known as substance abuse disorder, a drug addiction is a dependence on a legal or illegal drug or medication. Even though alcohol and nicotine are legal substances, they are still considered drugs that are highly addictive. Here are some of the most common substance addictions:

  • Alcohol Addiction: There are approximately 18 million people addicted to drinking alcohol in the United States. Because alcohol is so socially acceptable, sometimes it can be difficult to notice when someone has become addicted. However, this does not make alcohol addiction any less dangerous. Besides the health risks of liver disease and alcohol overdose, drunk driving kills thousands of people every year as well.

  • Nicotine Addiction: There are over 40 million people addicted to nicotine in the United States. Since tobacco products are legal and easy to obtain, smokers will usually not realize the risks of their addiction until it is too late. Once you are addicted to nicotine, it is one of the hardest addictions to break, even when you know the effect tobacco is having on your health.

  • Prescription Drug Addiction: There are many different prescription drugs that are highly addictive, including painkillers, benzodiazepines, stimulants, and sedatives. Addiction to prescription drugs currently claims about 3 million victims in the United States alone.

  • Illegal Drug Addiction: Cocaine, heroin, and meth are all illegal drugs that people commonly become addicted to. This type of addiction can be very dangerous because these drugs can be extremely harmful to your health and are very expensive addictions to maintain. Several million Americans are currently suffering from an addiction to an illegal drug.  

Behavioral Addictions

While addictions are typically associated with dependence on a substance, there are also many dangerous addictions to certain behaviors or activities. Just like substance addictions, behavioral addictions cause the addict to seek the “high” that comes from these experiences no matter what the negative consequences may be. Some common behavioral addictions include:

  • Gambling Addiction: This behavioral addiction most closely resembles an addiction to drugs or alcohol. This is because studies show that people with a gambling addiction will activate the same areas of the brain as someone with a drug addiction, and treatment for a gambling addiction is usually very similar to treating a drug addiction as well.

  • Sex Addiction: While it is not formally classified as an addiction, the symptoms of sex addiction are very similar to traditional addictions, including loss of control and disregard for risks and consequences of behavior. Additionally, treating a sex addiction is typically very similar to treating a drug addiction as well, using programs such the 12-step program Sex Addicts Anonymous.  

  • Shopping Addiction: Studies show that compulsive shopping affects women more than it does men, and it can lead to severe personal and financial problems. This type of addiction is typically involves purchasing items to avoid feeling sad, but then immediately feeling guilty afterwards, which results in a closet full of clothes that still have the price tags on them. Treatment for this addiction will generally include counseling and behavioral therapy.

  • Video Game Addiction: This type of addiction is most common in boys and men, with as many as 1 in 19 video game players between the ages of 8 and 18 classified as “out-of-control gamers.” Someone with a video game addiction may begin to feel like the world of their game is more of a reality than a fantasy. This type of addiction is also treated with counseling and behavioral therapy.