The word addiction can be a broad spectrum for many people. Some people see addiction as a problem with drugs, alcohol, dirty websites, or gambling. For others, you can be addicted to any substance that is causing you harm in excess. This can include binge eating, excessive video games, or too much screen time. Others see addiction as an extreme version of a habit and easy to both make and break.

Still, addiction’s main and clinical definition is split into two parts. The first is a chemical addiction. This refers to addiction that focuses on using substances such as drugs and alcohol. The second type is a behavioral addiction that deals with repeated behaviors done to excess, such as playing too many video games or shopping too much with money you don’t have. 

Each type of addiction plays with your cravings, reward system, and brain; they have similarities, differences, and signs. Let’s break down the two different types of addictions, and then we’ll discuss if you are addicted to a drug or alcoholic substance.

The Different Types of Addictions

Both chemical and behavioral addictions work the same way, although chemicals reinforce one and behaviors enforce the other. Still, they both impact the reward system of your brain. Our brains naturally reward us whenever we do something needed for survival, such as eating food, reproducing with a partner, and exercising. 

That reward system becomes hijacked whenever addictions come around, as addictive substances are much stronger than the rewards you can find in nature. 

Whenever you find yourself addicted to behavioral habits, you are doing these behaviors in a way that is not seen as healthy. An example is video games or screen time. Spending time grinding for work or checking your status on Twitter could be a hobby, but whenever you spend all day doing that or turn on the screen whenever you feel sad or upset to get validation. You are addicted.

It’s not healthy to spend hours on end flooding your brain with chemicals that make you feel happy, and over time you get used to that level of stimulation. The desire to feel that good again can lead you to experience cravings, which are the feelings of needing to get in front of a screen to feel good.

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Drugs and alcohol are the same way, where you might drink whenever you are stressed out about something. Eventually, you are drinking to numb all the stress in your body. Or you might take a drug because all your friends are taking it, promising yourself that you will stop after one. Fast forward a bit, and you can’t seem to stop taking it, and you might not even want to consider stopping taking the substance.

Signs That You May Have an Addiction to a Type of Alcohol or Drug

Here are some signs that you might have an addiction, either to a chemical substance or behavior you are doing in excess.

  • Lack Of Control: One of the major features of any addiction is the loss of control you feel. You might even know that scrolling on social media or drinking too much is bad for you, but you keep doing it anyway because you feel like you can’t stop. The cravings, urges, and temptations often feel too much to bear.
  • Isolation: If you are addicted, you sacrifice anything to get to that addiction. For example, you might abandon pre-made plans to smoke weed for hours or blow off a friend so you can stay home and drink a case of beers in one sitting
  • Needing More and More: If you drink one beer and feel that ‘high’ of being drunk and then drink one beer the next day and feel nothing, you are an addict. Your brain’s reward center won’t react to the same stimuli anymore, and you will need more and more to get the same effect. Eventually, you just suffer the law of diminishing returns.

Other signs can include mood swings, needing a drink or drug to feel normal or to avoid feeling numb, and behavioral changes. Keep an eye on the addicted person’s behavior, physical health, and appearance. Often if those are changing radically, then it is a sign that they could be addicted to something and need some help before it gets worse.

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Treatment Options For Different Types of Addictions

There are several treatment options for both chemical and behavioral addictions, with a lot of overlap between the two types. Behavioral addictions are typically fixed by figuring out why the behavior started and continues, such as playing video games to feel a sense of accomplishment or going on social media to feel validation. Then the bad behavior is slowly weaned off and replaced with a healthier alternative that helps to soothe the same emotion.

Chemical addictions typically require medical help and intervention to detox your body from whatever substance you use. You will get your body and mind clean and weaned off the substance, and then you will focus on habits and tools to prevent you from sliding back into the substance. Like behavioral addictions, they focus on why the dependence on the chemical started in the first place. Then they give you ways to deal with your triggers healthily. 

If you or a loved one are addicted to a chemical substance or a behavioral habit, you need to connect with a professional. Going through the struggle alone is not a good idea, and you must ensure you get all the help you deserve. No matter the type of addiction, it can be cured, and you can live a normal and sober life. You deserve the chance to start living the life you’ve always wanted, free from addictions. So reach out today to get on the path to a better tomorrow immediately. 


Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. Raypole C. Types of Addiction and How They’re Treated. Healthline. Published February 27, 2020. Accessed July 9, 2022.
Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Ascendant NY, The Heights Treatment, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed July 9, 2022

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