Addiction is the term given to a pattern of behaviour that causes negative consequences for the individual. Most people assume that addiction refers only to those who have a compulsive need for a particular substance such as alcohol or drugs. However, in reality, it is possible to become addicted to almost anything. To be clear, this condition occurs when a person continues to do something despite knowing that it will have an adverse impact on his or her life. Because of the various causes and triggers, there are many different types of addictions.
The most common are alcohol and drug addiction, but people do not just become addicted to illegal drugs. In fact, prescription drug addiction has been a growing problem for some time – and in all parts of the world.
Then there are those addicted to specific activities such as gambling, shopping, or sex. And, with the growth of the internet, social media and mobile devices, experts are warning about the increase in cases of people addicted to gaming, online pornography, and social media. Below are a few examples of the many types of addiction that individuals around the world are struggling with every day.
Alcohol is a legal substance that is widely used by people the world over. Nevertheless, it is also a highly addictive substance and one that can cause a number of health problems. Those who abuse alcohol are in danger of developing a physical and psychological dependence that will mean they continue to drink even though doing so has harmful consequences. The government advises that men and women should drink no more than fourteen units of alcohol per week, having a number of alcohol-free days during the week, as well.
While some individuals can use drugs such as cannabis and cocaine recreationally, there are others for whom drugs become an obsession. The powerful effects of drugs such as heroin and cocaine often lead to addiction, with those affected being unable to control their urge to take the substance. Drug addiction often leads to the breakdown of relationships, job losses, financial struggles, and homelessness. It can have a devastating effect on family members and can result in a host of mental and physical health issues.
Prescription medication is typically given to those who suffer from conditions such as chronic pain. Nonetheless, these medications must only be taken in the short term and should never be abused. Abuse of prescription painkillers can lead to devastating addictions that can be very hard to break.
Those who are affected by a gambling addiction often become addicted to the thrill of gambling. They may start out gambling in the hope of securing a ‘big win’, but as time goes by, they become obsessed with the thoughts of gambling and the anticipation of winning. Gambling addiction is often referred to as a ‘hidden’ addiction because of the fact that there are no outward physical signs. In most cases, the loved ones of gambling addicts do not realise the problem exists until it is very far advanced and the addict is in serious financial trouble. Gambling addiction can lead to devastating consequences for the entire family as many of those affected will run up massive debts while some will even resort to crime in order to get their hands on the money they need to continue gambling.
Eating disorders are also known as food addictions, and they can destroy the lives of those affected. The most common eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. Eating disorders are classed as an unhealthy or abnormal attitude towards food. Those who suffer from anorexia tend to severely restrict the number of calories they consume, which can lead to devastating health consequences. Bulimia sufferers will binge eat and then purge themselves or exercise excessively to burn off the calories consumed. Eating disorders are mental health issues and are notoriously difficult to treat.
Many teenagers spend much of their time these days living in a virtual world. They socialise through the internet and find it difficult to interact with people on a face-to-face basis. Online gaming becomes a problem when it begins to affect the lives of those who take part in it. It is something that tends to affect teenagers and can result in them becoming socially withdrawn and isolated. It can also have a negative effect on lifestyle as those with severe gaming addictions may neglect other responsibilities such as personal hygiene and school work. Many gaming addicts will spend hours at a time playing online and will forego sleep, which can result in health problems.
An addiction to pornography or sex may have comical undertones for a number of people, but it is a very real problem for those affected; and one that can destroy their lives. In fact, the spouses of those with a diagnosed sex or pornography addiction often say it is the worst type of addiction one could have. They feel betrayed and devastated, and it can place an enormous strain on their relationship. Pornography addicts spend much of their time watching porn or thinking about it. As time goes by, they feel the need to watch more and more graphic images and material. Some pornography addicts find it difficult to enjoy sex with a partner, and it can have an adverse impact on many areas of their lives.
The above are just a few of the various types of addiction that people can be affected by. One thing they all have in common is the fact that they have harmful consequences for those affected. Addiction is an illness that can be treated with professional help. For substance addiction, it is generally necessary for the person to undergo a programme of detoxification. Recovering substance addicts will then need to abstain from this substance in order to maintain their recovery.
However, for those who are addicted to social media, the internet or who have an eating disorder, it is not possible to abstain from the thing to which they are addicted. They must, therefore, learn how to manage their addictive behaviour. Professional counsellors and therapists use a variety of treatments to help those with addiction overcome their illnesses. These include 12-step work, cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, group therapy and alternative therapies.