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3 Different Types of Addictions and How They Work

Almost everyone in the world has directly experienced—or had a friend or family member who has dealt with—one of the many different types of addictions that exist.

Here are a few of the different types of addictions:

  • Alcohol/drug addiction
  • Social media/video game addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Gambling addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Adrenaline addiction

Addiction can destroy people’s lives, end relationships, cause severe health problems, or even cause people who are not necessarily criminals to start breaking the law.

Before we delve into some of the most common types of addiction, it is important to explain something that is known as the reward center in your brain.

Everyone has one. It’s what gets you going, essentially, when you take certain actions.

Maybe you love going on Facebook, or maybe you just love opening a bottle of wine, or having sex.

When you do these things, you feel good because your brain’s reward center is activated, and you get a spike of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.

This spike in dopamine is a result of actions or activities that we find pleasing in any way. This cycle of releasing dopamine plays a huge role in the formation of addictions.

One addiction that’s becoming more and more common in the modern age is social media/screen addiction.

A Type of Addiction You Might Not Have Considered — Social Media and Screen Addiction

Being born in 1990, I was fortunate to have a childhood where we went outside to play all the time. I didn’t have a phone till I was 16. I remember the development of social media and the first time my parents got a desktop computer with Windows XP.

That was such a huge deal back then. You had to have it in order to be able to have access to what I would call the precursor of social media: AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).

When I had my first real girlfriend, I’d get AIM taken away when I’d get grounded.

Around the time I was 13, I had a Xanga account, and I remember the feeling I would get when I saw that people liked what I posted. It was like a “high.”

When Myspace came into the picture, I was around 15, and that high was taken to a whole new level. By the time Facebook came along, I think I was fully addicted to social media at this point along with many teenagers in my generation.

When you take a look at social media now, or even just smartphone usage alone (which goes hand and hand with social media use) it’s almost unheard of for a kid to not have a smartphone by the time they hit middle school.

Most of the time when people are staring at their screen, they are scrolling for likes and feeding that reward center. I think it won’t be long before we see treatment centers solely designed to treat social media and smartphone addiction.

The Deadliest Addiction — Drug Addiction

There are other addictions that have a lot more intense consequences right off the bat than this uprise in “tech addiction.”

One of those is drug addiction.

Drug addiction is a major type of addiction that has infiltrated almost every family in the United States. Almost every person in the Western World has been touched or knows at least one person who suffers from Alcoholism or Substance Use Disorder.

I have personal experience with this one. The good news is that there is a solution for treating addiction.

The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I learned that after I followed the suggestion of getting a sponsor and actually working ALL of the 12 steps. They changed my life and worked until I stopped working them.

Sometimes you fall, but I’ve found that there is always a person who’s been willing to help me back up.

If you are a loved one need help with alcoholism or drug addiction, find a meeting close to you by searching on Google for a local AA Meeting.

I know that it can feel a little scary or make you feel vulnerable, but if I can do it, you can do it. 

Trust me on that!

The Most Difficult Type of Addiction — Food Addiction

One of the most difficult types of addictions to overcome is the addiction to food.

Why is it so hard?

Food is something that you simply can’t live without.

But a lot of people immediately minimize this addiction, failing to realize that, unlike drugs, or porn, or gambling, someone can’t just stop eating.

Imagine being a heroin addict, and your treatment is just to take a little bit of heroin each day for the rest of your life.

Imagine being a gambling addict and being told you must gamble a little every day—just don’t let it get out of hand.

Imagine being a sex addict and being told that you can only look at porn once a day.

If you have dealt with any of those addictions, then you know that something we call “the phenomenon of craving” will be so intense from having just a little bit of your addiction of choice that you won’t be able to resist having more.

It’s almost a tease each day that barely satisfies that deep yearning to use or drink or gamble or watch porn or play video games or get on social media.

My hat truly goes off to food addicts. I can’t imagine how hard it would be trying to control myself while knowing that I still have to eat every day.

Food addicts have to stick to a very strict regimen and focus a lot of energy on portion control and daily accountability.

There Are Many Different Types of Addictions — If You Have An Addiction, Don’t Be Ashamed

I could go on for hours about all the different types of addictions and how they manifest. So many things in our lives stimulate a dopamine response, and some of us or just more genetically prone to becoming addicted to others.

We become addicted to the dopamine spike, and it can be hard to get off.

Do not feel ashamed if you meet the criteria that I have discussed. You are SO not alone. We truly are never alone because I can guarantee that there is always someone willing to help or reach their hand out when we simply ask.

Are you struggling with an addiction right now? Tell me about it. I want to hear your story, and I want to help.

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1 year ago

Thank you for posting this. I’m a few years older than you and I can completely relate to everything you’ve said here. Esp the subs part. Wasn’t til now I decided to look online for help. This and blue light has made me feel somehow less ashamed. I’m also a 2 decade bulimic and 12 years of on and off opioid abuse. To see someone share this info really has given me hope

Adam Fout
1 year ago
Reply to  Selena

So glad you’re looking for help and so glad I was able to give you some!

1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Fout

Wow surprised you’re up I just actually emailed you and posted numerous comments like a psycho lol

Adam Fout
1 year ago
Reply to  Selena

Ha yeah I tend to stay up pretty late but I fell asleep not long after I replied.


Ryan Henderson

Ryan Henderson is a magician and mental health advocate.

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