most common types of addiction

10 Most Common Types of Addiction

An addiction is defined as the repeated, compulsive, engagement in behavior that results in negative life consequences.

The development of addiction can appear to happen spontaneously, or it can slowly creep up on a person. Factors that determine whether a person will become addicted to something include individual brain chemistry, life experiences, and the current environment. With treatment, many will find that the process of becoming addicted is reversible.

The following are some of the most common types of addiction that may require assistance in overcoming.

Substance-Related Addictions

The first thing that comes to mind when hearing about addiction is usually drugs and alcohol. Around 

40 percent of all adults in the United States admit to having had some type of substance use disorder at some point in their lives. A surprisingly small portion of these folks reports receiving treatment help with their chemical addiction.


Tobacco has been a predominant substance in the United States for more than a century. During the early 1900s, smoking was considered an enjoyable pastime and was even recommended by doctors for relieving stress. After the invention of industrial production – and after a large amount of money was spent by tobacco companies on aggressive marketing – nearly half of all Americans identified as smokers. The number of people addicted to tobacco has significantly decreased in recent years, but there are still upwards of 20% of Americans who admit to being addicted. 


Similarly to tobacco, alcohol has been a staple of our country since the founding.

The dangers of alcohol abuse were highlighted during the years of prohibition, but even the prospect of dying from drinking tainted alcohol wasn’t enough to stop people. It doesn’t make it any easier to avoid alcohol that there are aggressive advertisement campaigns designed to promote drinking as a glamorous, social, activity.

Every year, over 2000 people die from alcohol poisoning. Many more lives are destroyed through lost jobs, abuse, and accidents related to being intoxicated. 

Learn more about alcohol addiction.


The opiate addiction crisis hit its peak in the past decade. Though the use of opiates has been around for thousands of years, rapid increases in the prescribing practices of doctors contributed to a large number of people becoming dependent on this highly addictive substance.

There tends to be the idea that something being prescribed by the doctor for pain must be safe, which led many people to become unwittingly addicted.

Others learned to turn a profit from selling their prescription medications, and still, others decided to turn to heroin once their prescription opioids were cut off.

Learn more about drug addiction.


Anyone who has viewed the Faces of Meth campaign knows that methamphetamines are a highly addictive, and highly destructive, substance. Those who are addicted can end up becoming a shell of their former selves.

Methamphetamines are cheaper to buy than other stimulants but come with a host of toxins. These toxins wreak havoc on the brain and body of a user.


With marijuana now regaining status as a legal substance in many parts of the nation, there may be temptations to write it off as a problem. It is good to note that tobacco and alcohol are similarly legalized substances, and are not without their consequences. Proponents of marijuana assert that the substance, itself, is not addictive in nature. As with many things, however, the dependence upon the effects produced by engaging in the substance can be harmful.

Behavior-Related Addictions

While the previously mentioned addictions rely on foreign substances being introduced into the body, there are also addictions which develop from the outside.

Behavioral addictions arise from the rush of pleasurable feelings that the addicted person experiences from engaging in a certain action.  The addiction to pleasurable feelings can be just as dangerous as addiction to a substance.

Learn more about Cognitive behavioral therapy.


Gambling is an ancient sport. Human beings will engage in it as a recreational activity, or as a futile means to get rich, quick. When the gambling behavior extends to making impulsive decisions, squandering the family nest egg, lying about the activity, or going deep into debt for it, there is likely a gambling addiction at work.


Addiction to sex can be difficult to define. Unlike gambling, sex is a physical part of being a human. The line between what constitutes an addiction, and what constitutes a healthy sex drive, can remain blurred for a significant amount of time. Using the basic definition of addiction, you can determine that sex addiction is at work if the sexual activities engaged in have begun to interfere with your relationships, negatively impact your overall quality of life, or progress to the point of being illegal.


Internet addiction is a relative newcomer to the field. The more that human beings rely on it to perform their daily tasks, gain information, and socialize with others, the more risk there is of growing dependent on it as a mental and emotional fix. Social media, in particular, has been shown to have addictive qualities, as people begin to feel as though they are missing out on every second that they aren’t spending on checking statuses and receiving likes. 


Gaming disorder also falls into the category of addiction to technology and is sometimes included under the heading of internet disorder. As video games became increasingly popular, it was discovered that some people were spending far too much time in their virtual worlds to attend to their real-world responsibilities. There have been stories of people failing to shower, skipping work, and even failing to feed their kids for the sake of spending every moment in the game.


Much as with sex, human beings depend on food to survive. And, as it is a basic need, it can be difficult to tell when one is experiencing a food addiction. It bears to keep in mind that the nature of an addiction is that the behavior continues, in spite of negative consequences. A focus on eating certain foods that cause damage to health, interfere with relationships or obstructs engagement in normal life may be an addiction.