This article refers to two kinds of addiction: addiction involving substance use and behavioral addiction. Substance use addiction is a common problem, with more than 14 million adults in the United States struggling with alcohol use disorder. Recognizing alcohol addiction can be harder than other substance use disorders due to its legal status and social acceptance. On the other hand, behavioral addiction is a controversial topic, with sex addiction being excluded from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
However, this dependence is still regularly discussed. Drug addiction can cause health problems, difficulties at school or work, financial problems, and deteriorating relationships with friends, family, and colleagues. Video game addiction can be more difficult to recognize and seek help because it doesn't have as many obvious consequences. But the repercussions are still very real.
The Internet and the accompanying screen time have their downsides, with many of us mindlessly browsing our social networks for hours. Although it has not yet been officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, research indicates that Internet addiction is a prevalent problem. Addiction to video games and online gambling may fall under the umbrella of Internet addiction. The types of addiction range from everyday drugs such as alcohol and cocaine to behaviors such as gambling and theft.
Some types of addiction are specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), while others are more controversial and have been identified by some addiction professionals. A hallmark of substance addiction is the development of tolerance, which refers to the experience of becoming dissatisfied by the amount and frequency with which an addict started. Increasingly, the substance or behavior is required to produce any high that is similar to that experienced at the beginning. Gambling addiction in the United States is common enough that an anonymous support group has been created for it.
Data indicate that more men than women end up with a gambling addiction, although women tend to develop it more quickly. Identifying a food addiction can be difficult since eating is a normal and necessary part of life. But food addiction can lead to obesity and other health problems, and can wreak havoc on the addict's self-esteem. Internet addiction is one of the newcomers to the plate, mainly due to the fact that it hasn't been around as long as the others.
Its existence is a testament to the fact that any pleasant experience can become addictive. Internet addicts spend so much time in their virtual world that they neglect to take on the responsibilities of the real world that surrounds them. Behavioral addictions are defined as “an intense desire to repeat an action that is pleasant or that is perceived to improve well-being or that can alleviate some personal distress”. What classifies some behaviors as addictive is the difficulty that those affected have in stopping or reducing their participation in them.
Some motivating factors for behavioral addictions include the perception of a temporary decrease in depression and anxiety, making it a seemingly logical way to achieve calm or happiness. For example, gambling addiction illuminates parts of the brain similar to those of some drugs, causing a dopamine high for the user or player. Sex addiction affects the brain in a similar way to gambling addictions, and just like substance abuse treatment, joining a 12-step program can be a useful method of treatment.