Three Major Types of Addictions and Their Signs

There are three main types of addictions:

  • Substances (drugs and alcohol)
  • Impulse control (stealing, gambling)
  • Behavioral (food, sex, shopping, and working).

When reviewing the lists below, be conscious of how many symptoms apply to you. There's two lists per addiction. 

Here's how this guide works: 

  1. There's one list of symptoms that will be highly noticeable to the addict.
  2. The second list focuses on symptoms that a loved one may notice.

Every case is unique, and symptoms vary in severity. With that being said, if at least two symptoms apply to you from each of the two lists within your questioned addiction, it's recommended that you seek professional help.

There are a few exceptions, such as methamphetamine. These exceptions are reported under the appropriate addictions. 

If you are displaying two or more symptoms, you need to act on your addiction immediately. Your life may be at risk.

1. Addiction to Substances

If you are using drugs frequently, you may have thought, “am I an addict?” Many know that they have a problem with drugs, but still do not consider themselves an addict.

Whether you feel as though you're an addict or not, it's important not to ignore the signs. There will be clear signs that addiction has taken ahold of your life; it's up to you to get your life back.

Most Commonly Abused Substances

Although there are various signs that are general across all addictions, each drug of choice will yield different behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and outcomes.

We are going to focus on the most frequently abused substances, and their signs.

The most commonly abused substances facts:

  1. Opiates: This classification of drugs includes heroin, and painkillers such as morphine. In 2010, almost 359,000 Americans reported being dependent on heroin.
  2. Cocaine: In a recent survey, approximately 1 million people reported being dependent on cocaine.
  3. Marijuana: Smoking marijuana is highly common, and more than 4.5 million people reported abusing marijuana or being dependent.
  4. Methamphetamine: With approximately 13 million Americans trying methamphetamine once in their life, it's obvious that it's prominent. Around 277,000 people consider themselves dependent.
  5. Alcohol: Alcohol is most certainly the most widely abused substance, with 14 million being dependent on alcohol (Scott, 2012).

As many of these surveys are based on self-reporting, values are most likely even higher. Let's look closer at these substances to give you a better understanding of addiction, and if you should be seeking help.

While reading through these symptoms, how many fit your situation? If you strongly relate to two symptoms from category A, and two from category B; you need to begin looking into treatment options.

HERE IS THE DRUG INFORMATION: drop down to see list

Opiates and Heroin





Connection Between Alcohol and Drugs

When it comes to addiction, you can not generalize. With that being said, there are some clear patterns amongst alcohol and drug addiction. Drug and alcohol addiction tend to go hand-in-hand with one another.


It has been shown that those individuals who are dependent on alcohol, are more likely to use drugs (compared to the general population). As well, those who are dependent on drugs, are also more likely to drink alcohol.

More than 23 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol and other drugs ( As you can see, it's important to notice the signs so that duel dependence does not begin to develop.

2. Addictions Regarding Impulse Control Disorders

Gambling can have terrible effects on one's life. You may be losing those close to you, or possessions in which you can't get back.

Gambling can be a constant battle with those around you, and within your own mind.

Displaying two symptoms from each list calls for intervention. However, if gambling has already negatively affected your life; it is time to make changes regardless of the symptoms you believe you have or don't have.

Top impulse control disorders facts:

  1. Pathological Gambling: Compulsive gambling is affecting 2-5% of the American population.
  2. Kleptomania: This involves the need to steal, without any regard for others at the time of theft. There are less than 5% of Americans who are currently suffering from kleptomania.
  3. Pyromania: This is the urge to start fires, experiencing repetitive thoughts to do so. Fires are set deliberately, creating a sense of relief. It is more commonly seen in adolescents, compared to adults. As well, it is more common for boys to experience pyromania then girls their age.





3. Behavioral Addictions

Top behavioral addictions facts:

  1. Food: Becomes obsessed with food, even though it may be harming their health.
  2. Sex: Being consumed by sexual activities, thoughts, and behaviors.
  3. Shopping: These are shopaholics, who would continue to spend even if they have no money left. This is more than enjoying shopping, there is compulsive behavior involved.
  4. Working: This is more than a passion for one's work. Work will come before anything else, family included.






Have you struggled with any of these addictions? Comment below, and briefly tell us about your story, and how you realized you had a problem.

About the Author:

Kara Crow is a substance abuse treatment consultant. She joined The Recovery Way last year and has been working to develop and implement new treatment strategies, and to analyze addiction treatment services. Learn more about her here and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

Kara Crow – who has written posts on The Recovery Way.

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