Types of Addiction

Types of Addiction

An addiction can be to a substance or behaviour, however they all share the same developmental path and symptoms.

The most common type of addiction is that related to drug abuse, but the consequences of behavioural abuse of the internet, love and sex, food, exercise, gambling, shopping and any other compulsive behaviour can have a similar impact when they become obsessive and control the life of the addict.



Addictions can be interrelated and, a drug addiction for weight control or a cocaine addiction to reduce appetite can be derived from an obsession with food or anorexia.

Substitution of one dependence for another, be it between drugs or behaviours, which provide similar levels of intensity can also develop and they are called cross addictions.

The disease of addiction can coexist with a psychiatric disorder and thus be considered a dual pathology or comorbidity, which requires an individual psychiatric treatment.


Alcoholism is a progressive, chronic illness and in many cases can be fatal when the consumption of alcoholic drinks is out of control. It interferes with physical, mental, social and/or family health in addition to work responsibilities.

Cocaine is a drug belonging to the group of psychoactive substances, that is, it produces a directly stimulating effect to the central nervous system, principally to the brain. Cocaine tolerance develops quickly, which means that it is highly addictive.

Cannabis is one of the illegal drugs that is most widely used. Use is common in adolescents and young people as it is often mistakenly considered a ‘soft’ drug. 19.5% of the Spanish population between 15 and 65 years of age have tried it on some occasion. A figure which increases to nearly one in three (28.2%) if we focus on the 15-29 year old age group.

Dependence or addiction to benzodiazepines is a condition where a person is dependent on a benzodiazepine medication, where dependence can be both psychological as well as physical, or a combination of both.

Heroin and other opiates are sedative drugs which deprive the nervous system, slow the function of the organism and combat emotional and physical pain. Generally, opiates block pain messages, creating a false sense of calm and increasing the sensation of pleasure in the brain. The most common effect of heroin is the feeling of relaxation, warmth and indifference, together with a reduction of anxiety.

Smoking is responsible for approximately 15% of deaths in Spain and kills approximately 200 people every day, of which 166 are men and 40 are women. Smoking has been linked to numerous diseases. The largest percentage of smokers is aged 25-39 years of age (40%), followed by those aged 40-59 years old (39%).

Eating disorders encompass a number of chronic and progressive diseases, comprised of a very complex range of symptoms which go beyond behaviour around food, such as a change or distortion of body image, a fear of weight gain and acquiring a series of values which are manifested through body image. They are illnesses that require a multifactorial analysis (individual-family-society).

Behavioural addictions are treated in the same way as substance addictions. Behaviours that can lead to addiction include:

  • Gambling
  • Sex
  • New technologies (internet, mobile phones, social media, videogames)
  • Shopping
  • Work
  • Co-dependency