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Types of Substance Addictions and How to Identify Them

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May 13, 2021

According to Healthline, there are two types of addictions: chemical and behavioral. Chemical, or substance addiction, is the habitual use of a substance, as well as the compulsive need for it; whereas behavioral addiction involves repeated, persistent, and compulsive behaviors that tend to not offer any clear benefit. Although the two may seem similar in nature, the focus here is on substance addiction.

There are different substances that individuals can become addicted to. This includes everything from alcohol, to cocaine, to opioids, and several others. A substance addiction is considered a mental illness, a medical illness, and a brain disorder. It is the most “severe form of a full spectrum of substance use disorders.”

American Addiction Centers (AAC), a nationwide leader in addiction treatment, treats substance use disorders, alcohol use disorders, as well as co-occurring mental health disorders. If you’ve been struggling with substance misuse, please reach out to your personal licensed physician or to one of our admissions navigators in order to get the help that you need. And if you’re experiencing a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1.

Types of Substances

There are a variety of substances to which individuals are battling an addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there is a group of commonly used addictive substances.

Commonly used addictive drugs includes, but is not necessarily limited to:

  • Synthetic cannabinoids.
  • Marijuana.
  • Medical marijuana.
  • Prescriptions, including opioids (found naturally in the opium poppy plant), stimulants like Ritalin® (Methylphenidate) or Adderall® (amphetamine).
  • Over-the-counter medications such as cough suppressants (dextromethorphan) or antidiarrheal (loperamide).
  • Anabolic steroids.
  • Cocaine.
  • Alcohol.
  • Hallucinogens.
  • Fentanyl.
  • Molly, Ecstasy (MDMA).
  • Inhalants.
  • Heroin.
  • Nicotine.
  • Bath salts (synthetic cathinone).
  • Methamphetamine.
  • Rohypnol®

Identifying Substance Addictions

The signs that one may find that is common amongst those who misuse substances may be best discovered by their close friends and family members. After all, they spend more time with them andWoman struggling with a substance addiction while working on her laptop. are able to recognize, or at least notice, the changes in their behavior, disposition, or even in their appearance.

Signs of substance addiction:

  • Modifications to physical appearance/not grooming/wearing dirty clothes.
  • Low quality work performance/disinterested in work-related duties/chronically tardy.
  • Challenges at school/a drop in grades/lack of interest in school-related activities.
  • Depletion of energy when performing day-to-day activities.
  • Financial management difficulties/paying bills late or not at all.
  • Weight loss/decrease in appetite.
  • Poor skin tone/bloodshot eyes.
  • Defensive when asked about drug use.
  • Big changes in relationships.
  • Increase desire for privacy.

Alcohol misuse comes with its own set of challenges. It’s a substance that is legal to buy and use, socially acceptable at bars, restaurants, and people’s homes, and is easily accessible to nearly everyone 21 years or older in the United States, including an individual battling an alcohol use disorder.

Common signs of a substance addiction to alcohol:

  • Depression/mood swings/irritability.
  • No control over how long one drinks or how much to drink.
  • The continuation to consume alcohol, regardless of physical, psychological or interpersonal challenges that arise due to this behavior.
  • Drinking at odd times (like the morning) or in secret/alone.

If you, or a loved one, is battling a substance use disorder or an alcohol use disorder, you’re not alone. There are resources and support to help you. Please reach out to get the help you need.

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