Addiction is an abuse of a substance or behavior that can take many forms. Alcohol and drugs are the most easily recognized forms of addiction. There are many behaviors that can be disruptive to a person’s life if they are abused. These behaviors are often classified as addictions.

Exercise addiction

One curious habit is the practice of exercising to the detriment of a person’s health and relationships. Exercise is usually a positive thing, so recognizing the potential downside isn’t always easy. Exercise addiction stems from a need to be in control. Compulsive calorie counting and attention to weight are often warning signs that there might be a problem. A significant number of marathon runners might actually be exercise addicts. Excessive exercise can isolate the addict from social activities. Encouraging the addict to engage in exercise groups or classes, such as yoga or spinning is very effective.

Cosmetic surgery addiction

With beautiful celebrities in the limelight, there is tremendous focus on external values such as one’s appearance. The pursuit of physical perfection is an elusive and destructive path. Those who abuse plastic surgery can sometimes have many procedures in a year’s time. They never seem to be happy with the results and seek to fix their problems by scheduling yet another surgery. Some plastic surgery addicts suffer from a disease called body dismorphic disorder. Body dismorpic disorder often causes the patient to exaggerate a defect and seek repeated surgeries to fix it. Effective treatment is often a combination of medication and talk therapy.

Shopping addiction

Shopping addiction is an abusive cycle of guilt and pain. It starts with the abuser trying to compensate for feelings of inadequacy or sadness by compulsively shopping for things which they can not afford. Shopping addicts report a feeling of euphoria when they are buying goods. The feeling quickly turns to feelings of depression, often as soon as the transaction is complete. Group therapy sessions have proven to be effective with this form of addiction.

Gaming addiction

Constant online gaming has been shown to be extremely damaging to relationships and careers. Isolation, moodiness and sleep deprivation are all symptoms of this increasingly common addiction. In several instances, the addict has been violent when parents or other authority figures attempt to limit or prevent them from playing the game. Therapy and medication have limited success with this addiction. Installing timers or tracking devices on the computer has been effective in some instances.


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Drug addiction is a complex disease characterized by uncontrollable cravings for addictive substances that can cause harm to the addict’s relationships, careers, minds, and bodies. The compulsion can fluctuate but generally grows worse over time, resulting in financial ruin, failed relationships and jobs.

Many drugs can bring about an addiction- drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth, or crack. The drugs being abused can be legal or illegal. Drug addiction can also involve multiple substances at once. For example, some addicts use a mixture of cocaine and heroin called a “speedball”. The cocaine keeps them awake far longer than they would be otherwise, allowing them to take an unusually large amount of heroin, which can easily prove lethal.


The most abused major stimulant in the the U.S. is cocaine. It is also the drug most commonly associated with emergency room visits. A widely held myth holds that cocaine in non-addictive because there are no withdrawal symptoms like with heroin or alcohol. But cocaine is addictive because it creates a compulsion to take it. Cocaine is often abused with other drugs like sedatives, valium, or heroin. It can raise blood pressure, while narrowing blood vessels- a combination that can cause a heart attack or stroke.


Heroin is an extremely addictive drug created from morphine- an ingredient found in the opium poppy. It is a depressant affecting the brain’s pleasure centers and blocks the ability of the brain to perceive pain. It is a whitish to dark brown power that is sometimes seen in a black tar form. It can be injected, smoked in a pipe, or snorted in the form of a powder.

The effects of taking heroin are felt within moments and last several hours. The user will feel a rush of euphoria, along with a warm flushing of the skin, and become very drowsy, even nodding off periodically. Chronic users can develop collapsed veins or get hepatitis through infected needles.


Meth is a synthetic form of adrenaline that gives the user an intense feeling of euphoria, power, and energy. The nice feeling quickly goes away, leaving the user drained and taking an extreme toll on the body. Death can come from cardiac collapse or hyperthermia.

Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment is available, although free resources can be hard to find. Relapse is common but if the user can stay clean for 18 months or longer, the prognosis is good.


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There are literally millions of people who do much more than engage in a little exercise each and every day. They exercise to extremes. They might have an obsession to run a minimum of ten miles a day and actually do so. They might exercise during every single waking hour, even when they’re eating, showering or being a passenger in a car. This pattern of extreme exercising is known as exercise addiction and it’s not at all a positive activity that anyone should be engaging in.


With exercise addiction comes many risks. There are risks of straining the heart muscle too much. Physical injuries such as sprains or even fractures have been known to occur. Anorexia can also be a result of exercise addiction. Exercising for many hours each day is extremely time consuming and can definitely interfere with a person’s other necessary activities such as work, school or taking care of their family. Moreover, when addicted to exercising, individuals become prone to it affecting their minds as well since the excessive exercise will unquestionably tire their brains and cognitive functioning due to the physical stress aspect of it.


Individuals become exercise addicts because of many different factors. Some people simply want to be extremely thin. The sight of the slightest amount of fat anywhere on their body is simply intolerable. This can be due to a mental disorder for no matter how thin they get, they still feel they’re too fat. Anorexia can result and becomes quite dangerous for these people. Another factor is that some people are excessively hyperactive. They simply can’t sit still due to another type of brain disorder such as extreme cases of attention deficit disorder. Others are training for extreme forms of athletic competition such as marathons, ultra marathons and triathlons and they simply overdo it by training too much, often times without even realizing they’ve become exercise addicts.

Available Help

Talk therapy, or psychotherapy is usually the first step in an exercise addict’s quest to receive help. In other situations, the addict’s primary care family practitioner will either see how thin she is or hear about just how much exercising she does and realize that certain medications to relax her and calm down her fierce urges and even compulsions to exercise. Sometimes tranquilizers are prescribed, sometimes sedatives to help them sleep better, and sometimes OCD medications are utilized to attempt to combat the addictive mindset of the exerciser and to mitigate her excessive amounts of physical exercise substantially.


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Many people suffer from a condition known as shopping addiction. This means that they overspend, usually way beyond their financial budget, and they purchase many more products than they actually need. It’s a kind of irrational sense of feeling that they never ever have enough items and products, whether they be clothes, electronics, shoes, jewelry and home furnishings, among others.


Many medical experts in the field of psychiatry, as well as psychologists and other highly trained mental health counselors, believe there are several different causes of shopping addiction. One reason some people become addicted to shopping is that they grew up very poor and were never able to have basic things that all their friends, schoolmates and neighbors had such as enough food to eat or an adequate amount of modern looking, clean clothes, or even toys. They could be overcompensating for this inadequacy of material possessions in their childhood or teenage years by becoming shopping addicts as adults. Another reason shopping addiction occurs is because some individuals have an excessive and extreme desire or need to own many more possessions than their neighbors. They have an irrational need to come across as extremely affluent when they’re really not, but they continue to buy more possessions, usually on their credit cards, until they fall deeply into debt.


There is definitive scientific proof that shopping addicts can indeed be helped. It all depends on the person and the type of help he receives. The first line of help would be medications that control impulsiveness and even hyperactivity, such as those given for attention deficit disorder. These prescription medications calm a person’s mind and brain and make them much less impulsive to act on every single urge they feel to have to go out and start shopping to excess again. They can definitely calm that sense of the shopping urge when it used to be literally irresistible to shopping addicts.

The second kind of help they can and usually do receive if they indeed want help is psychological counseling. There’s a special type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy. With this approach, the shopping addict is taught to retrain his thought patterns as well as his reactions and behavioral patterns to specific urges, feelings of anxiety and stress when his mind wanders back to going out and attempting to shop to excess again. These two approaches have proven extremely helpful for shopping addicts regarding a successful, long term outlook for positive change.


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Overeating is related to the consumption of food in excess. While overeating is often related to eating disorders, it can be related to short-term environmental and social factors as well. People who are spending more time at home over a holiday break may find themselves overeating out of boredom. On the other hand, it can correlate with binge eating disorder, bulimia and food addiction. People of all sizes are prone to eat excessively.

There are several consequences associated with overeating, including weight gain and obesity. Serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea may result if overeating is untreated. Depression may result from feelings of guilt, low self-worth and shame associated with binge eating. Those who purge may face additional health issues.

Different symptoms are associated with different types of overeating. Binge eating usually involves food frenzy, where the eating is out of the control of the person doing it. It goes beyond the feeling of being full. People with binge eating disorder often feel depressed when they are done eating. People with binge eating disorder often eat alone out of shame.

Bulimia is very common to binge eating disorder, however purging follows the out-of-control eating. Purging comes in many forms. People may go days without eating or use laxatives. Vomiting and constant exercising are also ways that people with bulimia purge.

Fortunately there is a lot of help available for overeaters. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common way that overeaters seek assistance. A therapist can help people track their eating and learn how to change their food-related habits. Individual therapy can help patients examine the most problematic areas in their lives and make changes where they must. It can also help users change the way that they deal with stressful and emotional situations they encounter so that eating does not seem like a coping mechanism. Group therapy is also useful for showing overeaters how to find support. Overeaters Anonymous is a popular 12-step program for overeaters. Some people even take medications, such as pramipexole, or antidepressants in order to change the neurotransmitters in the brain. Therapy remains one of the most popular options, however.


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Sexual addiction is a condition in which an individual becomes obsessed with sex. A sex addict may find it difficult to hold down a job or maintain healthy relationships with others because the thought of sex and sexual thoughts may consume his or her attention.

Sex addicts are often prone to thought distortions, and they often believe that their own behavior is justified. They may also believe that other people are to blame for their problems. Typically, sex addicts excuse their own behavior and do not believe they have a problem.

Sexual addiction is often accompanied by risk-taking. Sex addicts are often very active sexually and often do not consider the possible dangers or negative consequences of their behavior. While satisfying their addiction, sex addicts often put themselves in dangerous situations. They may not take reasonable precautions against disease or pregnancy. Their behavior often causes a great deal of damage to their relationships and make maintaining a normal work and social life difficult or impossible.

Some people with sex addiction eventually engage in illegal activities, such as indecent exposure, obscene telephone calls or sexual molestation. It is very important to note, however, that simply because a person is a sex addict does not mean that he or she is bound to become a sexual offender.

Some of the behaviors seen in those suffering from sexual addiction include masturbating compulsively, addiction to porn, having multiple affairs, having multiple sexual encounters, having brief sexual encounters and engaging prostitutes. Sex addicts sometimes engage in obsessive personal ad dating, phone sex or cybersex. They may flirt with voyeurism or exhibitionism. These behaviors may develop into full-blown indecent exposure, sexual harassment or stalking. Some sex addicts become molesters or rapists.

Sex addicts often report that their sexual activity provides them with little satisfaction. They often feel no real emotional connection with their sex partners. Sex addicts frequently suffer a great deal of anguish at their perceived inability to control their behavior and are tormented by feelings of shame and guilt. In spite of these feelings and the negative physical, social, financial and legal problems they encounter, sex addicts usually do not stop their addictive behavior without help.

It is difficult to treat a sex addict who will not admit to having a problem. Often a crisis is necessary to convince an individual that he or she is a sex addict.

Successfully treating sexual addiction involves teaching the addict to control his or her behavior and helping the addict develop a new, healthier sexuality. Treatment typically includes education and individual counseling. It may also include relationship or family therapy, group therapy, support groups, 12 step recovery programs or medication.


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Addiction to video games follows the same psychological model as most other types of addiction. In this particular instance the focus of the addiction is some form of video game that provides the user with constant challenges that then manifest into rewards that feed the addiction. Although many cases of the addiction have been documented, the condition is not officially recognized as a psychological disorder.

The primary indicator of a video game addiction is when an individual compulsively dedicates time and attention to playing the game to the point where daily activities and normal routines are negatively affected. This can include skipping showers and other types of hygiene and spending large portions of time alone playing the game. In extreme cases the addict might also forego eating and sleeping in order to fulfill the compulsion to play the video game. This behavior is different from someone who might play a game intensely for one or two days because the pattern will become the default routine of the individual.

Those who are experiencing video game addiction usually begin to withdraw from normal social activity. When left unchecked the addiction can cause a person to stop going to work or school. When the pleasure that is felt from playing a game begins to fade due to repetition, then the individual might begin to attempt to enhance the experience by turning to drugs or alcohol. Like all addictions, the rewards from playing a video game will diminish over time as the person slowly becomes acclimated to a certain level of pleasure.

Another area where a video game addiction can affect a person’s life is when there is a financial aspect to play. Many video games are specifically designed to be somewhat addictive to encourage people to play more. In the case of some games, the game play and rewards can be enhanced if the player spends a certain amount of money. In some situations, this type of addiction can lead a person to spend most or all of their money in a single week attempting to achieve some goal that they believe will give them pleasure.

Video game addiction is not formally recognized as a psychological condition despite the evidence that it does exist and destroys the lives of many people. The best route for treatment is to seek the help of a mental health professional or an addiction service. Help from family and friends can be invaluable as the individual learns to reenter society. Ultimately, a video game addict will need to have regular counseling or therapy sessions and can possibly benefit from anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications.


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More and more people are destroying their finances and ruining relationships by descending into gambling addictions. However, not all gamblers are alike and understanding the type of gambler that you are trying to help might provide insight into the nature of the problem.

Emotional gamblers

Emotional gamblers are individuals who have underlying emotional problems that influence their compulsion to begin gambling. Because the compulsive gambling is a sign of another problem, the only way for this problem to be resolved is through dual diagnosis treatment, a form of treatment that is designed to identify and remedy both mental illnesses.

Behaviorally conditioned

This group of gamblers have learned through experience that they enjoy the feelings of reward that they get when they gamble. These individuals often gamble for the sake of gambling instead of gambling because they have an emotional reason. However, they might still need treatment designed to help them overcome their addiction. Behaviorists have discovered that certain behaviors are the most addictive when the rewards are randomized. People are the most likely to carry out actions when they have the least rewards if the frequency of the reward is randomized.

Antisocial impulsive

Antisocial impulsive gamblers often have the antisocial personality disorder. They are also more likely to have a history of substance abuse and are more likely to have parents who also have problems with substance abuse. Addictions can become a family disease, with members of the family reinforcing the addictions of other members.

Those with antisocial personality disorder are more likely to violate the rights of others. This disorder usually arises in early adolescence and can continue throughout adulthood. Many people who suffer from this personality disorder are very likely to end up in prison.

Those who have gambling addictions struggle with impulse control. They are often aware that they should not gamble anymore, but they can be suddenly overcome with the desire to gamble and aren’t able to control themselves. Gambling addiction not only leads to financial problems, but also tends to cause the gambler to isolate himself or herself.

When an individual gambles to the extent that they start to suffer severe financial consequences, they can be described as a problem gambler. However, those who are problem gamblers do not necessarily have an addiction.


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