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Types of Addiction

Addiction can be both chemical and behavioural. The key aspects of any addiction is tolerance (a need for more and more) and withdrawal (physical or psychological symptoms that are felt when you aren’t able to have your ‘addiction’). As the addiction becomes stronger it becomes more important than other aspects of your life and you may go to great lengths to keep your habit. This is often to the detriment of relationships, work, school, or even self-care.

The American Psychiatric Association has certain criteria for determining a diagnosis of addiction. At least three of the following must be present in the individual (these are adapted from the DSM IV-R):

  • The substance is used in larger quantities or more often than intended;

  • There have been unsuccessful attempts to stop use;

  • There is an inordinate focus on obtaining, using, or recovering from the substance;

  • It disrupts the person’s life;

  • The person continues despite awareness of negative consequences;

  • There is an increase in tolerance (the person needs more to get the same effect – this can reverse in late stages of addiction);

  • There are identifiable withdrawal symptoms;

  • The substance is used to avoid withdrawal.

So what are common types of addiction:

Chemical Addiction



Opioids (like heroin)

Prescription drugs (sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics like sleeping pills and tranquilizers)


Cannabis (marijuana)

Amphetamines (like methamphetamine, known as meth)



Phencyclidine (known as PCP or Angeldust)

Other unspecified substances

Behavioural addictions

Food (eating)


Pornography (attaining, viewing)

Using computers / the internet

Playing video games

Self development

Social media

Technological usage

Self Development



Spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion)

Pain (seeking)



Co-dependent relationships

Addiction is a massive problem in our society and is often a symptom of a greater problem in the persons life or family system. Addictions may stem from poor coping mechanisms and a lack of support. We need to see addiction as a symptom of this greater problem when considering treatment.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction please contact us for assistance.

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