Addiction is a word that we, unfortunately, hear way too often these days and with the incredible availability of anything and everything that plagues modern living, the number of addictions is spiraling. 

An addiction can be formed surrounding any substance or activity that induces pleasure and/or enjoyment, whether that be drugs and alcohol or sex, shopping and work. But what many people don’t realize is that addiction is a compulsive behavior and is classed as a medical condition rather than a habit. 

For the majority, it’s not something that can be just shaken off or easily stopped cold-turkey but requires treatment, just like any other illness. Withdrawal symptoms can be commonplace when combatting addiction, particularly when the focus is substance-based, often leading to relapse as the addiction becomes a priority over other responsibilities. 

It’s important to both recognize and understand common addictions and know how to treat either yourself or others that may be suffering and so, we’ve got 5 of the most common addictions for you to familiarize yourself with and learn how to treat.

Alcohol addiction 

An addiction to alcohol is the most common form of substance addiction, particularly common in those looking to escape their worries

As with other substance addictions, alcohol addiction is reinforced by withdrawal and those refraining from consumption will often experience harsh physical and psychological health symptoms occurring once dependence has formed. It’s this occurrence of these symptoms that can be the first indication for a number of people that they’ve become addicted to alcohol.

How to treat an alcohol addiction

Alcohol addiction can be treated in a number of different ways and approaches but as a general rule, the following steps prove particularly effective:

  • To first accept that there is an addiction to alcohol 
  • To inform friends and family of alcohol addiction and request for help and support
  • To attend a rehab center specializing in alcohol addiction

Although a rehabilitation center isn’t for everyone due to costs, other commitments, etc. it is the most effective method. 

It’s always best to discuss options with friends, family and healthcare professionals for the best advice. 

Drug addiction 

Following alcohol addictions, it’s a drug addiction that stands as the next popular substance dependence, characterized by a compulsive and obsessive need to take drugs.

Despite the knowledge of both the dangers and consequences of drug consumption, addicts will once again find withdrawal symptoms associated when the user stops taking or reduces the dosage of the addicted drug. It’s both the tolerance built and withdrawal symptoms experienced that can be the first indicator to users of their addiction. 

How to treat a drug addiction

Drug addiction can be treated and addressed in a variety of different ways with the severity of the addiction, type of drug and nature of the user all determining an outcome, although the following steps are particularly common:

  • To first accept that there is an addiction to drugs
  • To inform friends and family of drug addiction and request for help and support
  • To attend a rehab center specializing in drug addiction

It’s a good idea to discuss options with friends, family and healthcare professionals for specific advice for each individual with the severity of addiction alongside other variables determining an outcome. 

Gambling addiction

Gambling addictions are becoming increasingly problematic thanks to the rise in online gambling over the last 20 years. 

Although gambling should be treated as a fun pastime, addiction can quickly be formed thanks to the release of dopamine in the brain during the excitement of play. This euphoric feeling when gambling leaves players wanting more which can, unfortunately, lead to uncontrollable gambling.

Players suffering from gambling addiction will often spending or borrowing excessive amounts for wagers and will often feel uncomfortable when not in a wagering environment. 

How to treat a gambling addiction

Gambling addictions, although difficult, can be treated in countless different ways, although the following steps are often followed for success: 

  • To first accept that there is a gambling addiction 
  • To inform friends and family of the gambling addiction and request for help and support
  • To attend a rehab center specializing in gambling addiction

There is also the option of a self-opt-in lifetime exclusion to both online and brick-and-mortar casinos if a player so desires. This takes all of the ability to gamble away from the individual, making it much more difficult to relapse. 

Smoking addiction 

Another huge addiction found across the globe is that of addiction to smoking or more specifically, the nicotine located in the ingredients list. 

Nicotine is known to be highly addictive and the tobacco found in cigarettes is recognized as one of the most dangerous substances to human health with 90% of lung cancer cases in men (and 70% in women) caused by smoking. As with other substance dependencies, there are a number of potential withdrawal symptoms including, intense cravings for nicotine, tingling in the hands and feet, sweating, nausea, and abdominal cramping.

How to treat a smoking addiction

Smoking addictions are very commonly treated and thanks to their legality, have a number of great approaches although the following general steps prove a good starting point:

  • To first accept that there is an addiction to smoking
  • To inform friends and family of smoking addiction and request for help and support
  • To invest in anti-smoking products such as nicotine patches or nicotine pens 
  • To attend a rehab center specializing in smoking addiction

There are a number of products on the market to help smokers first reduce and then fully irradicate their nicotine addiction in stages, limiting the withdrawal impacts. 

Food addiction 

One dependency that we’re seeing rise over the last few years a food addiction, characterized by unnatural eating behaviors by those who suffer from the condition.  

Foods rich in sugar, fat and/or salt are heavily responsible with the ability to alter the brain’s chemistry, inducing satisfaction and pleasure, causing addicts to repeatedly eat highly palatable foods. 

The addiction can be identified with a number of behaviors including the consumption of more food than a person can physically tolerate, eating even when no longer hungry, gorging excess food in secret and eating uncontrollably, to the point of illness.

How to treat a food addiction

Food addictions can be difficult to come to terms with and explain to a support system, although both steps are imperative for treatment in the following steps: 

  • To first accept that there is an addiction to food
  • To inform friends and family of food addiction and request for help and support
  • To attend a rehab center specializing in food addiction

There a number of support pages, groups, and local rehab centers across the globe for food addictions. By joining and seeking support from those in the same positions, it can be heavily beneficial to overcoming the addiction. 

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "5 Common Addictions and Ways to Treat Them," in Medicalopedia, March 28, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/8579/5-common-addictions-and-ways-to-treat-them/].