Addiction is a complicated term that is hard to define for many people, including medical professionals. A lot of scientific research into this field has helped us get a much better understanding of the issue. Extensive research has led addiction tobe classifiedas a disease. It is a disorder that affects the brain and is notmerelya person unable to control themselves.

When one hears the term addiction, they usually associate it with substance addiction, traditionally related to alcohol or drugs. But that is not the case. Addiction can be of different types. Today, most experts have agreed to classify addiction into two major categories.

Types of Addiction

As mentioned earlier, addiction can be broadly classified into two types. Here's a look at each in detail.

Chemical addiction

This involves a person becoming dependent on substances such as alcohol, weed, or other hard drugs.The person must undergo addiction treatment, including medication and substance withdrawal plans, to get over the addiction.

Symptoms of chemical addiction include:

  • Having intense cravings about the dependent substance, which hampers day-to-day life
  • Experiencing anxiety, uneasiness, and discomfort if the person can't get access and use the substance
  • Having trouble maintaining social relationships due to substance dependence
  • Unable to control cravings for a long time
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit

Some addictive substances that people develop an addiction to include:

  • Alcohol
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine

Some substances on the list are less harmful than others.But, developing an addiction to any substance is bad for the individual's physical and mental health.

Treatment methods

Chemical addiction or substance addiction is challenging to give up on your own. The individual generally requires emotional support and medical help to overcome their addiction. Some common treatment methods for chemical addiction are:


Generally, two therapy methods, psychotherapyand addiction counseling,are usedto treat individuals. The medical professional will explore the reasons behind the addiction. They will then develop strategies that can help cope with these issues. This can reduce the dependency on the substance and the individual quitting it.

Support Groups

There are various organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous that help people with addiction recovery. They have developed self-help treatment programs involving support from similar recovering individuals.


In some cases, the individual may be prescribed medication to overcome their substance addiction. A medication also proves to be a faster way to overcome substance addiction in most cases. They help reduce the person's cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Behavioral addiction

This involves a person exhibiting specific compulsive behavior towards a particular thing, subject, or topic. For example, the person may be addicted to gambling, sex, shopping, or eating a specific food item. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, recognizes only two types of behavioral addiction. They are gambling addiction and internet gaming disorder. It doesn't include the other forms of behavioral addiction, citing a lack of scientific evidence.

Symptoms of behavioral addiction include:

  • Having difficulty in avoiding or controlling the behavior.
  • Compelled to continue exhibiting the behavior even if it affects daily life.
  • Irritation, anxiety, or depression when trying to control behavior.
  • Spending a large amount of time exhibiting the same behavior.

Apart from the behavioral addictions listed in the DSM-5, some other common types of behavioral addiction include:

  • Addiction in physical intimacy
  • Social media addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Diet addiction

Treatment methods

Similar to substance addiction, various factors can lead to people having behavioral addiction. Different treatment methods can be sought depending upon the root cause of the addiction. The commonly used methods include:


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has proven to be the most useful treatment method for people suffering from behavioral addiction. It focuses on paying attention to the person's thoughts, leading them to get addicted to the behavior. In addition to CBT, other forms of therapy may be used, depending upon the condition.

Support Groups

Support groups, too, can help people recover from behavioral addiction similar to substance addiction. They are generally used in combination with therapy to generate faster results.


Certain medications, including Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), have proven to be an effective treatment method against behavioral addiction. They are, basically, antidepressants that help control the addictive behavior of the individual.

There is still a lot to uncover about addiction. However, the current research has helped discover various aspects regarding addiction. Having a better understanding of different types of addiction can help remove the stigma associated with it. It will also help provide better support and faster recovery for a person undergoing addiction treatment.

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