6 (of the many) Different Types of Addictions

1. Substance Use Disorders

Of all addictions, this is usually the first to come to peoples mind. Although many people are familiar with it, most are not educated on what it actually entails. Despite the commonplace thinking, substance abuse disorders are not based on how much of the substance it being consumed. DiNitto and McNeece (2008) explain that substance abuse is “…determined by the effects alcohol or drug use have on an individual…”(p.173).

Criteria for substance abuse:

  1. failure to meet obligations at work, school, or home
  2. use of alcohol or drugs in hazardous situations, such as driving
  3. legal problems, like arrests for public intoxication
  4. interpersonal problems, like fights

Criteria for substance dependence:

  1. use of more of the substance to get the same effect
  2. withdrawal symptoms when one is not using the substance
  3. use of more of the substance than intended
  4. unsuccessful efforts to cut down
  5. increasing amounts of time spent using and recovering
  6. decrease in usual activities
  7. continued use despite persistent physical or psychological problems

(DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.173)



2. Pathological Gambling

Another common addiction is gambling. In 1999 the National Research Council estimated that approximately 1.5% of adults in the US met the criteria for pathological gambling (DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.176).

Criteria for pathological gambling:

  1. preoccupation resulting in illegal acts to obtain money for gambling
  2. loss of family, friends, and jobs
  3. increasing amounts of time spent gambling
  4. lying about gambling
  5. having to gamble more money to achieve excitement
  6. failed efforts tot control gambling, and irritability when trying to do so

(DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.175).


poker player with chips and money at casino table

3. Compulsive Eating

It’s no secret that America has an obesity problem. But what many people do not realize is that eating can be addictive. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2001 overweight and obesity rates for adults, children, and adolescents was 61%, 13% and 14%, respectively.

(DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.176)




4. Compulsive Shopping or Spending

Everyone knows a “shopaholic”. Although not recognized by the APA as an actual addiction, compulsive shopping or spending follows the same criteria as a gambling addiction. Compulsive shopping can lead to large debts and tensions within families. Most social worker’s experience with compulsive shopping is in marital counseling.

(DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.176).




5. Compulsive Sexual Behavior

Compulsive sexual behavior is another addiction that can be confusing to many people. The most common sexual behavior disorder is pedophilia. DiNitto and McNeece summarize the 2007 statement made the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health that tries to define compulsive sexual behavior.

Many forms of compulsive sexual behavior:

  1. loss of control over some form or forms of sexual behavior
  2. negative consequences
  3. constant involuntary preoccupation with the behavior
  4. feeling guilt or shame over sexual behavior
  5. having sex with prostitutes, others one has just met, or people with whom one would not otherwise associate
  6. some may engage in unsafe, painful, or abusive sexual activities
  7. some may restrict sexual activity to only masturbation

(DiNitto & McNeece, 2008, p.176-7).




6. Excessive Internet Use and Other Excessive Behaviors

Most people these days, especially the younger generations, are constantly with their phones or laptops surfing the web. One’s obsession with the internet can lead to interpersonal tensions. With all the new dating sites and social media platforms out there it’s easy to get caught up in an extramarital relationship. Even more serious, it can lead to many different crimes such as viewing child pornography or soliciting sex form minors. The internet is a great thing but it can be easily abused. According to DiNitto and McNeece (2008), “…it becomes a problem when it interferes with relationships, work, and other aspects of everyday life” (p.177).




Works Cited

DiNitto, D. M., & McNeece, C. A. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.

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