Types of Addiction


Alcohol dependence, which is also known as alcoholism or alcohol addiction, describes the most serious form of high-risk drinking, with a strong - often uncontrollable - desire to drink. It means drinking at a level that causes harm to your health.


Sex addiction is defined as a lack of control over sexual thoughts, urges, and impulses. While sexual impulses are natural, sex addiction only refers to behaviours that are done in excess and significantly impact one’s life in a negative way. 

A person with sex addiction may have a compulsive need to be sexually stimulated. This desire often interferes with their ability to live their daily life. Sexual addictions can come in many different forms, including addiction to: 

  • Sexual acts
  • Prostitution
  • Watching or consuming pornography
  • Masturbation or sexual fantasy 
  • Exhibition or voyeurism


Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person's brain and behaviour and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medicine.

When you're addicted, you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes.


Gambling addiction is a type of impulse-control disorder where you have little or no control over your urge to gamble, even when you are aware that your actions can hurt yourself and others and even when the odds are against you.


As computer and mobile phone use has increased, so have computer and internet addictions. People may spend hours each day and night surfing the internet or gaming while neglecting other aspects of their lives.


Some people are obsessed with their work, to the extent that they come physically exhausted. If your friendship, family and social life are affected and you never take holidays, you may be addicted to work.


Volatile substance abuse is when you inhale substances such as glue, aerosols, petrol or lighter fuel to give you a feeling of intoxication.


Shopping becomes an addiction when you buy things you don’t need or want to achieve a buzz; this is quickly followed by feelings of guilt, shame or despair.


Porn addiction is, when you can't stop looking at porn, even if you want to.

And the obsession gets to the point that it interferes with work, relationships, and other parts of daily life. It's easy to understand how this could be a problem with the widespread availability of internet porn today.

Collapsible content

What are Addictions?

Addiction is a common problem, but help is available. Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.

Addiction is most commonly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol and nicotine, but it’s possible to be addicted to just about anything,

What Causes Addictions?

There are a lot of reasons why addictions begin.

In the case of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, these substances affect the way you feel - both physically and mentally. These feelings can be enjoyable and create a powerful urge to use the substances again.

Gambling may result in a similar mental ‘high’ after a win, followed by a strong urge to try again and recreate that feeling. This can develop into a habit that becomes very hard to stop.

Being addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal symptoms, or a ‘come down’. Because this can be unpleasant, it’s either to carry on having or doing what you crave, and so the cycle continues.

Often, an addiction gets out of control because you need more and more to satisfy a craving and achieve the ‘high’.

The Link Between Addiction and Mental Health

When you have both an addiction and a mental health issue such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety - it’s called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. Dealing with an addiction is never easy, and it’s even more difficult when you’re also struggling with mental health problems.

In co-occurring disorders, both the mental health issue and the addiction have their own unique symptoms that may get in the way of your ability to function at work or school, maintain a stable home life, handle life’s difficulties, and relate to others. To make the situation more complicated, the co-occurring disorders also affect each other.

When a mental health problem goes untreated, the addiction problem usually gets worse. And when the addiction increases, mental health problems usually increase too. Co-occurring addiction and mental health issues are more common than people realise. According to reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse.

37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness.

Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29 percent abuse alcohol or drugs.

While addiction problems and mental health issues don’t get better when they’re ignored - in fact, they are likely to get much worse - it’s important to know that you don’t have to feel this way. These are things you can do to conquer your demons, repair your relationships, and get on the road to recovery. With the right support, self-help and treatment, you can overcome a co-occurring disorder, reclaim your sense of self, and get your life back on track.

Getting Help

Addiction is a treatable condition. Whatever the addiction, there are lots of ways you can seek help. You could see your GP for advice or contact an organisation that specialises in helping people with addictions.

You can use the following online directories to find addiction information services in your area:

Alcohol addiction services -

Drug addiction services -

Stop smoking services -

To speak to someone anonymously about any type of addiction, you can call the Samaritans free on 116 123.


Medicinal advances and progress in diagnosis have helped the medical community develop various ways to manage and resolve addiction. Some methods may include:

  • Medication-based treatment
  • Behavioural therapy and counselling
  • Medical devices to treat withdrawal
  • Treating related psychological factors, such as depression
  • Ongoing care to reduce the risk of relapse

Addiction treatment is highly personalised and often requires the support of the individual’s community or family. Treatment can take a long time and may be complicated.

Addiction is a chronic condition with a range of psychological and physical effects. Each substance or behaviour may require different management techniques.

Useful Links

You can use the following online directories to find addiction information services in your area:

Alcohol addiction services -

Drug addiction services -

Stop smoking services -

To speak to someone anonymously about any type of addiction, you can call the Samaritans free on 116 123.