The term 'addiction' is thrown around a lot in today's world, but it can be difficult to understand exactly what it means. Addiction can take many forms—from drugs and alcohol to gambling and overeating. If you're addicted to something, the road to recovery can be long and hard.
Here are some of the most common types of addictive disorders and their treatments.
1. Drug Addiction
Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by an uncontrollable urge to seek and use drugs despite their detrimental effects. People addicted to drugs show a range of symptoms, depending on the kind of drug they're using. Symptoms may include:
Inability to stop using drugs even when there are problems at home, work, or school
Continuing to use drugs even when it's causing health problems
Withdrawal symptoms with discontinued drug use
Difficulty controlling drug intake
Taking risks to obtain and use drugs
The most effective treatment for this type of addiction is a combination of therapy and medications administered at behavioral health facilities like the Alvarado Parkway Institute. Medications can help reduce cravings for drugs, temporarily relieving your symptoms. But on its own, medication won’t help you cope with triggers or other stressors.
Behavioral therapy complements medications because it teaches you to avoid the situations that trigger your craving for drugs so that you can live a life free from chemical dependence.
2. Gambling Disorder
A gambling disorder is a mental health condition wherein people have problems controlling the amount of time and money they spend on gambling. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, people with a gambling disorder have trouble stopping themselves from engaging in certain types of behavior even when it causes them to suffer personal, professional, or financial problems.
Treatment for gambling disorders usually involves both medication and psychotherapy. Medication may be used to treat co-occurring depression or anxiety disorders. Therapy can help you understand the triggers that lead to your gambling behavior and how you can manage those triggers in the future.
You'll also learn relapse prevention strategies so that you don't return to your old patterns when tempted by gambling urges.
3. Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol is a powerful drug and can be addictive. Alcohol addiction treatment is necessary to prevent the repercussions of alcohol abuse and dependence.
Alcohol addiction treatment includes both inpatient and outpatient programs. Inpatient treatment offers intensive care for those who require medically supervised detoxification followed by behavioral therapy, relapse prevention training, and aftercare planning.
Alcoholism treatment typically includes a combination of the following therapies:
Behavioral Therapy: Behavioral therapy teaches individuals how to change their behavior by changing how they think and feel about themselves, their situation, and their relationships with others. Cognitive therapy helps individuals understand how thoughts affect feelings and behaviors. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people change the way they think about drinking, which may help reduce cravings and improve motivation to stop drinking.
Group Counseling: Group counseling provides opportunities for recovering individuals to develop social skills while learning more about alcoholism and other addictions from experts in the field. Group counselors also assist in helping participants develop a sober support network during recovery from alcohol addiction or other substance use disorders (SUDs).
Outpatient programs provide less intensive care for those who don't need as much supervision or monitoring during treatment but require an environment that promotes recovery from alcohol addiction.
4. Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are severe mental illnesses that affect millions of people. Most people with eating disorders know their behavior isn't normal, but they feel powerless to stop it. They may eat very little or too much, binge then purge, exercise excessively, or refuse to eat at all.
In Texas alone, it’s estimated that more than 2.5 million people, or about 9% of its population are likely to suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime.
It’s essential to note that eating disorders are more than just food issues; they're serious medical problems that can affect every aspect of a person's life. Two of the most common are as follows:
Anorexia Nervosa: People with this eating disorder severely limit the amount of food they consume and engage in unhealthy compensatory behaviors, such as vomiting and laxative use. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) estimates that anorexia will affect about four in 1,000 women and one in 1,000 men in the United States at any point in time. It’s most common during early adulthood but can begin at any age.
Bulimia Nervosa: This eating disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by behaviors aimed at preventing weight gain, such as inducing vomiting or misusing laxatives and enemas. According to NEDA statistics, bulimia will affect about one in 100 women and one in 1,000 men at a given time. It usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood but can develop at any age.
Treatment of eating disorders involves both medical intervention and psychotherapy. Medical treatment may include medications to reduce anxiety, promote weight gain, or help with specific physical complications. On the other hand, psychotherapy can teach people how to cope with problems that trigger their disordered eating patterns and help them learn how to eat healthily.
Treatment can be more effective if it's started early in the course of an eating disorder. Furthermore, psychotherapy works better when individual sessions are conducted along with group support or family-based therapy.
If you're concerned about yourself or someone you know, talk to your doctor or seek help from a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker.
5. Sex Addiction
Sex addiction may be defined as compulsive sexual urges or behaviors. Sex addicts cannot control their sexual thoughts and actions, despite the negative consequences to their relationships, health, or career.
Sex addiction is often associated with other behavioral addictions, such as gambling or drug abuse, but it can also be a condition with no co-occurring issues. The term sex addiction has been used for decades and became popular in the 1980s when it was discussed widely in the media.
The first step in treating sex addiction is identifying any underlying issues that may have contributed to the behavior. This may include depression, anxiety, or stress caused by other factors, such as work or family life.
Treatment for sex addiction typically involves therapy sessions with a licensed therapist specializing in this mental health issue. Group counseling sessions are also available in some cases where group members may have similar struggles with sexual urges or behaviors.
6. Hallucinogen Use Disorder
Hallucinogen use disorder is a pattern of recurrent psychedelic drug use that causes an altered awareness of reality. Hallucinogens include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin, mescaline, and dimethyltryptamine.
Hallucinogen abuse and dependence are considered behavioral addictions. They share many characteristics with other behavioral addictions and substance use disorders, such as gambling disorders and alcohol dependence.
People with hallucinogen use disorders have trouble controlling their drug use despite its negative consequences. They may continue to use drugs at the risk of losing relationships or jobs because of their behavior.
Treatment for hallucinogen disorder focuses on reducing symptoms and learning how to cope with stress without using drugs or alcohol. It may include medication to relieve symptoms of withdrawal from hallucinogenic drugs.
7. Inhalant Use Disorder
Inhalant use disorder is a pattern of inhalant use that leads to significant impairment or distress. Inhalants are volatile substances that produce mind-altering effects when inhaled. Common inhalants include glue, aerosol sprays, gasoline, paint thinners, and other solvents.
Inhalants are highly addictive and can produce dangerous side effects if misused. Long-term inhalant use can cause serious medical conditions, such as permanent brain damage, memory loss, heart arrhythmia, liver and kidney problems, and nerve damage to the hands or feet.
Inhalant use disorder is treatable with medication-based therapy and behavioral interventions. With proper treatment and support from family members and friends, people with inhalant use disorder can stop using these substances for good.
8. Stimulant Use Disorder
Stimulant use disorder is a mental health disorder that describes a pattern of stimulant use that causes problems in one's life for at least a year. The most common stimulants used are cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription amphetamines.
Stimulant misuse often begins as an attempt to self-medicate to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. As the drug abuse progresses, the person may become increasingly dependent on the drug to feel normal or to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
The best way to treat stimulant use disorder is with medication combined with behavioral therapy. Medications help reduce cravings, while behavioral therapy helps people learn to cope with stress without using drugs or alcohol.
It can be challenging to know where to turn if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction. Whether it's a substance abuse problem, an eating disorder, or another type of addiction, seeking help is the first step toward getting better.
It’s beneficial to talk to someone. It may be a family member or a friend you can trust. You may also consider seeking the help of behavioral health professionals. Whatever you tell them will be held in the strictest confidence. More importantly, they can help you find the right treatment options for your unique situation. Don't let fear keep you from getting help.