Addiction: Types, Signs & Symptoms, Effects, And Treatment

Written By: Facility Staff

Edited By: Editorial team

Published Date: 23rd Feb 2024

Last Updated: May 13, 2024

Addiction is a complex condition that can affect people from all walks of life, no matter their age, gender, socioeconomic status, or background.

No matter how it started, you may find yourself grappling with the challenges of addiction and its adverse consequences on your life and well-being.

But you’re not alone in your struggle. Millions of Americans are dealing with the pain and complications of it, too.

If you or a loved one is dealing with an addiction — be it substance abuse or behavioral addiction — there is help available to you when you’re ready.

At Hope’s Destiny, we provide the specialized and compassionate treatment you need to overcome your addiction here, no matter the type of addiction you’re facing.

What to Know About Addiction

Addiction is a chronic and complex brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite its harmful effects on well-being.

Whether it's substances like drugs or alcohol or non-substance-related behaviors such as gambling or gaming, addiction manifests in various forms.

Addiction can occur for various reasons. Genetics, environmental influences, mental health conditions, and life experiences can all contribute to its development and impact on your life.

Some common components of addiction can include:

  • Compulsive behavior: Individuals with addiction exhibit an inability to control or stop their engagement with the addictive substance or behavior.
  • Craving: Intense desires for the substance or behavior characterize addiction, often triggered by cues associated with the addiction.
  • Impaired control: Despite recognizing the negative consequences, people struggle to cut down or control their addictive behavior.
  • Social impact: Addiction can strain relationships, affect work or academic performance, and lead to social isolation.
  • Risk-taking: People with addiction might engage in risky behaviors to sustain their addiction, ignoring potential harm.

The impact of addiction can be far-reaching. Your physical and mental health can deteriorate, relationships may strain, and responsibilities at work or school can be jeopardized.

Even with these challenges, addiction treatment offers a beacon of hope to take back control of your life. Treatment approaches vary, including medical interventions, counseling, and support groups.

With the right support system and personalized treatment plan, you can embark on a journey toward recovery, reclaiming control over your life.

Top Facts on Addiction (Substance Use Disorder)

  • Number of people affected: 17.3% or 48.7 million Americans, including adolescents aged 12 to adults, had a substance use disorder (SUD) in the past year.
  • Number of substance addictions: 29.5 million Americans had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and 27.2 million Americans had a drug use disorder (DUD).
  • Number of behavioral addictions: 2.6% or 10 million Americans struggle with a gambling disorder, ranging from mild to severe. 
  • Symptoms of addiction: loss of control, tolerance increase, withdrawal symptoms, continued use despite consequences
  • Treatment programs: psychotherapy, addiction medicine to ease withdrawal symptoms, residential care, outpatient treatment, detoxification, aftercare

The Addiction Development Process

The science of addiction involves a mix of psychological, physiological, and behavioral factors.

Understanding this process, which often develops unintentionally, can help you and your family members better navigate the complications of substances or behaviors.

First Use

The initial encounter with drugs, alcohol, or certain behaviors seldom carries the intent of fostering addiction. People may engage for various reasons, including:

  • Natural curiosity to explore the effects of substances or behaviors
  • Seeking acceptance or fitting into social circles
  • Attempting to ease stress, anxiety, or emotional discomfort
  • Pursuing pleasure and recreational experiences

During this stage, people may experience perceived pleasurable effects, such as euphoria, relaxation, or heightened enjoyment.

Additionally, initial use doesn't inherently indicate a desire for addiction. Rather, it's often driven by various motivations.

Alcohol or Drug Misuse

As casual use persists, brain chemistry changes.

Drugs and alcohol stimulate the release of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) associated with pleasure. This creates a reinforcing loop to keep using or engaging in the addictive behavior.

Misuse occurs when the substance is consumed in larger quantities or more frequently than intended.

The key elements of this stage include:

  • Neurotransmitter impact: Substances manipulate neurotransmitters like dopamine, creating a sense of reward.
  • Tolerance development: Over time, the body adapts, requiring increased amounts to achieve the same pleasurable effects.
  • Dependency emergence: A psychological reliance on the substance develops, with individuals associating its use with emotional well-being.


Cycle of Withdrawal

The emergence of dependence sets the stage for a cycle marked by withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms, both physical and psychological, intensify the gravitational pull towards sustained substance use. The cycle can unfold in the following ways:

  • Withdrawal onset: When someone attempts to reduce or cease substance use, resulting in withdrawal symptoms
  • Compulsion to use: Where relapse may reduce distressing withdrawal symptoms
  • Reinforcement of dependence: With relapse, the cycle repeats, strengthening the link between substance use and symptom relief

This cyclical pattern often locks people with SUD into a relentless struggle, where the fear of withdrawal reinforces ongoing substance use or addictive behavior.

Breaking free from this cycle requires targeted interventions that address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

Go through how use turns to abuse when the body begins to experience changes to brain chemistry; drug use/alcohol produces feel-good chemicals. The body eventually wants to feel that feeling more and more, and with time, may not be able to feel those feelings any more without the drug/alcohol use.

Signs of Addiction

Noticing signs of addiction involves recognizing a combination of physical, mental/psychological, and behavioral indicators.

While signs may vary based on the substance or behavior, general addiction signs include:

  • Changes in appearance: Sudden weight gain or loss, deterioration of personal hygiene, bloodshot eyes or pupils smaller or larger than usual
  • Shift in sleep patterns: Developing insomnia, excessive sleep, or frequent fatigue
  • Health problems: Frequent illness or infections or unexplained injuries
  • Increased tolerance: Needing more of the substance or engaging in the behavior to achieve the same effects
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Experiencing discomfort, both physical and psychological, when not using
  • Mood swings: Extreme highs and lows or constant irritability or agitation
  • Cognitive impairment: Difficulty concentrating, memory issues, or decline
  • Psychological dependence: Obsessive thoughts about the substance or addictive behavior
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Prioritizing substance use over obligations at work, school, or home
  • Social withdrawal: Isolating from friends, family, or social activities
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Secrecy or deception: Hiding substance use or behavior from others or being defensive or evasive about them
  • Financial issues: Unexplained financial problems, excessive borrowing or money or spending significant amounts of money on the substance or behavior
  • Continued use despite harmful consequences: Persisting in substance use despite negative consequences to health, relationships, or legal issues.

Addressing addiction with support and access to professional help contributes significantly to a path of recovery and well-being.

What Are the Causes of Addiction?

Addiction doesn’t start as a choice.

Oftentimes, people with addiction disorders do not expect to develop an addiction and eagerly want to end its control over their lives.

Yet, various factors can cause addiction. These may include:

  • Underlying factors,likehealth conditions, learned behavior, traumatic experiences, or other environmental factors
  • Having a genetic predisposition, alterations in brain chemistry, and neurological adaptations
  • Psychological elements, such as personality traits and coping mechanisms
  • A combination of all the above

Understanding the fundamental cause of an addiction can help affected people, their support systems and healthcare providers identify and manage traits that lead to addictive behaviors.

Who Is at Risk of Addiction?

Anyone may be at risk of developing an addiction. However, some factors can increase the risk of addiction — be it substance abuse or behavioral.

Some risk factors include:

  • A family history of addiction
  • Early exposure to substance use or certain behaviors at a young age
  • Mental health conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or anxiety
  • Experiencing trauma or chronic stress can drive poor coping mechanisms, like substance abuse
  • Peer pressure, societal norms, or a permissive social circle
  • Easy access to substances
  • Neurobiological factors, like brain chemistry and structure

Common Types of Addiction

Addiction can be substance-related, such as an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or behavioral-related.

Drug Addiction (Substance Use Disorder)

Illicit drug addiction, or substance use disorder, encompasses a range of illegal substances, each with its own set of risks and effects.

This type of addiction can affect anyone and often begins with experimentation or seeking a euphoric experience.

Some common illicit drugs include:

  • Heroin: a highly addictive opioid derived from morphine
  • Methamphetamine: a stimulant that affects the central nervous system
  • Marijuana (Cannabis): despite increasing legalization, misuse can lead to dependency
  • Cocaine: a powerful stimulant drug derived from coca plants
  • PCP (Phencyclidine): originally developed as an anesthetic, PCP can cause hallucinations, delusions, and dissociation
  • MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly): while primarily known as a stimulant, MDMA can also produce hallucinogenic effects, altering perception and mood
  • LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide): a potent hallucinogen known for its effects on perception, mood, and various sensations.

Other drug addictions may include inhalants that cause psychoactive effects, such as:

  • Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas): While used medically for anesthesia, recreational misuse of nitrous oxide for its euphoric effects is considered illicit.
  • Amyl Nitrite (Poppers): Originally used for medical purposes, poppers are now misused recreationally for their psychoactive effects.
  • Toluene: Found in products like paint thinners and adhesives, toluene is sometimes inhaled for its intoxicating effects.

Prescription Drug/Medication Addiction

Prescription drug addiction involves the misuse of medications obtained with a prescription. This form of addiction can develop through the misuse of opioids, benzodiazepines, or other medications.

Examples include:

  • Opioids: such as hydrocodone (found in medications like Percocet)
  • Benzodiazepines: including drugs like Xanax and Valium
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications: misuse of non-prescription medications.
  • Fentanyl: a potent synthetic opioid used medically for pain management, that often leads to opioid overdose

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a widespread issue that can manifest in various ways, including binge drinking, heavy drinking, or high-functioning alcoholism.

Alcohol, being socially accepted, can lead to dependency gradually. It affects individuals of all ages and backgrounds, contributing to a range of health and social problems.

Behavioral Addiction

Behavioral addiction doesn't involve substances but centers on compulsive behaviors that provide a reward.

Common forms of behavioral addiction include:

  • Gambling addiction: involves the inability to control or stop gambling
  • Internet/social media addiction: excessive use that interferes with daily life
  • Sex addiction: compulsive engagement in sexual activities
  • Gaming addiction: obsessive use of video games affecting daily functioning

Effects of Different Types of Addiction

There are various physical, psychological, and behavioral effects of addictions that can vary based on the type of addiction you are experiencing. Here’s a breakdown based on type.

Drug Addiction Side Effects

Drug addiction can have a multifaceted impact on your overall health and wellness. This may include:

Physical Impacts

  • Impaired coordination that affects your motor skills
  • Weight changes, like weight loss and gain, depending on the substance
  • Cardiovascular issues, such as increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and potential cardiovascular damage
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sleep disturbances, like insomnia or excessive sleepiness

Mental/Psychological Effects

  • Rapid changes in mood from euphoria to depression (mood swings)
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Difficulty with memory, attention, and decision-making
  • Psychosis, as some substances can induce hallucinations and delusions
  • Physical and psychological dependence leading to withdrawal symptoms

Behavioral Impacts

  • Strained relationships and withdrawal from social activities
  • Involvement in illegal activities to get drugs
  • Spending money on drugs at the expense of other needs
  • Prioritizing substance use over work, family, or education
  • Impulsive actions and risky behaviors

Alcohol Addiction Side Effects

Like a drug addiction, alcohol addiction can affect all aspects of your life and well-being. Here’s how:

Physical Effects

  • Liver damage
  • Digestive issues like inflammation
  • Cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease
  • Weakened immune system, increasing your vulnerability to infections
  • Impaired coordination, impacting your motor skills

Mental/Psychological Effects

  • Depression, as alcohol is a central nervous system depressant
  • Anxiety, especially during withdrawal
  • Cognitive impairment, like memory problems and difficulty concentrating
  • Increased aggression
  • Alcohol-induced psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations in severe cases

Behavioral Effects

  • Damaged relationships and social isolation
  • DUI, public intoxication, and other legal troubles
  • Job loss or decreased work performance
  • Spending significant money on alcohol
  • Impaired judgment leading to accidents and injuries

Behavioral Addiction Side Effects

Behavioral addictions have more of a general effect on your life. These can include:

  • Strained interpersonal connections because of excessive focus on the behavior
  • Reduced productivity or job loss
  • Spending excessive money on the addictive behavior.
  • Legal problems because of your involvement in illegal activities to sustain the behavior
  • Negative impacts on your physical health because of neglect and obsession with the behavior

What Are the Best Addiction Treatments?

The best addiction treatments vary and often involve a multi-care approach.

Rehab Programs

Rehabilitation programs, commonly known as rehabs, offer immersive and structured treatment.

Residents live at the facility and undergo comprehensive therapies, counseling, and treatment activities to help them recover from addiction.

This intensive approach provides a safe and supportive environment to learn and use treatment approaches to break free from addiction with professional and round-the-clock care.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment allows people overcoming addiction to receive care while living at home.

Outpatient treatment includes therapy sessions, counseling, and support groups. This allows people to maintain their daily routines and diverse needs while overcoming their addiction.


Detox is the initial phase of addiction treatment, focusing on clearing the body of substances.

It addresses withdrawal symptoms and ensures a safe transition to sobriety.

Medical supervision is crucial during detox, especially for substances with severe withdrawal effects.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines medications with counseling and behavioral therapies.

It can be effective for drug and alcohol use disorders, as well as mental illnesses that contribute to the root cause of substance abuse.

MAT helps people manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms, promoting long-term recovery and stability.

Therapy and Counseling

Individual and group therapy sessions are fundamental components of addiction treatment.

They address underlying issues of addiction, provide coping strategies, and foster emotional healing.

Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), are commonly used to change destructive patterns that contribute to addictive behaviors.

Support Groups

Support groups offer a sense of community and understanding.

Twelve-step programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), provide a platform for sharing experiences and receiving encouragement from peers facing similar challenges.

Through these groups, you can be empowered to recover from your addiction with the collective support and advocacy of your peers.


Aftercare is a crucial aspect of sustained recovery. It involves ongoing support and resources to prevent relapse.

Tailored aftercare plans may include continued counseling, support group participation, and strategies for maintaining a sober lifestyle.

Get Compassionate Addiction Treatment at Hope’s Destiny

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, get the supportive care you need to lead a drug-free lifestyle.

Compassionate treatment is here for you when you’re ready to overcome your addiction and take back full control of your life.

Contact us at Hope’s Destiny to create a life of holistic wellness that helps you recover and thrive.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is addiction curable?

Addiction is considered a chronic condition, but recovery is possible.

While there might not be a definitive cure, many people achieve lasting sobriety through tailored treatment, ongoing support, and lifestyle changes.It is also considered a mental health disorder under the classification of substance use disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).However, people with addiction may not view themselves as victims of circumstance in a situation that is out of their control —  addiction can be overcome with dedication and hard work.

How long does it take to rewire the brain from addiction?

The process of rewiring the brain varies for each person.

Neuroplasticity is a process that allows the brain to adapt, and positive changes can occur over time.

Engaging in treatment and therapy and adopting healthier habits contribute to the rewiring process.

How can you help someone with an addiction?

Supporting someone with addiction involves understanding, empathy, and encouragement.

Encourage them to seek professional help, be non-judgmental, and help find suitable treatment options.

Being a reliable, compassionate presence can make a significant impact.

How much does addiction treatment cost?

The cost of addiction treatment varies based on factors like the type of program, duration, and amenities.

Health insurance often covers a portion of the expenses.

Hope's Destiny provides transparent information on treatment costs and works with people seeking recovery to explore financial options.

Can people with addiction recover after a relapse?

Yes, relapse doesn't negate the progress made in addiction recovery. In fact, it's a common part of the recovery journey.

Returning to treatment, reassessing strategies, and reinforcing support systems can help people resume their path to recovery.

What are the best resources for people facing addiction?

Several resources support individuals facing addiction. These include:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Mental Health America
  • Local community mental health centers

These resources provide valuable information, helplines, and support networks for people seeking help and understanding.


American Psychiatric Association. “Addiction and Substance Use Disorders.” Retrieved from: Accessed on January 25, 2024.

National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. “Drug Abuse Statistics.” Retrieved from: Accessed on January 25, 2024.

National Institute of Health. “National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).” Retrieved from: Accessed on January 25, 2024.

National Institute of Mental Health. “Substance Use and Co-Occurring Mental Disorders.”  Retrieved from: Accessed on January 25, 2024.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “HHS, SAMHSA Release 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Data.” Retrieved from:,an%20AUD%20and%20a%20DUD. Accessed on January 25, 2024.

University of Nevada, Reno. “Gambling Addiction: Resources, Statistics, and Hotlines.” Retrieved from:,have%20mild%20or%20moderate%20problems. Accessed on January 25, 2024.

Addiction: Types, Signs & Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment

Written By: Facility Staff

Edited By: Editorial Team

Published Date: 02/02/24

Last Updated: 02/02/24