Types of Drug Addiction

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There are many types of drug abuse. Abuse of any substance, whether it be prescription medications or illicit drugs, can turn into an addiction. Most people that are addicted to prescription drugs first acquired the substance through a legal prescription from a physician. Most people that develop an addiction to their own prescriptions do so because they consume more of the medication than they are prescribed.

While taking the proper dosage of a medication that your doctor prescribes to you should not cause you to develop an addiction, this is not always the case. In fact, many people develop addictions to prescription medications because they simply took their medications for too long a period of time.

For example, if patients that take benzodiazepines to manage their panic attacks and anxiety took the prescribed daily dosage of their medications for a month straight when they were only supposed to take them for no more than two weeks straight, it can cause those patients to develop a tolerance towards the medication. This, in turn, could cause those patients to need more and more of the prescription drug to feel its effects. Before you know it, these patients will develop an addiction to benzodiazepines due to the patients taking more and more of the substance to receive its effects.

Generally, drugs that are abused are separated into three categories: stimulants, sedatives, and narcotics. The federal government has strict regulations for prescribing medications in each of these categories.

The medical industry rates these medications based on their potential for generating a high enough tolerance in their users to lead to abuse, and ultimately, addiction. Once an individual develops an addiction towards a prescription drug, the addiction can become just as severe as an addiction to an illicit drug.

types of drug infographic

Types of Drug Abuse

Not all drugs are created equal. Therefore, some drugs are more addictive than others. The highly addictive drugs that are most abused are the following:

1. Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid. Using heroin can cause a person to experience seizures, psychosis, and hallucinations. Heroin, when it’s injected, can also spread diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis.

The reason why heroin causes such serious health issues when abused is that it interferes with the brain’s receptors. Therefore, its users become physically dependent on the substance very quickly.

Once heroin users develop a physical dependency on the drug, they need more and more of it to achieve the same high that they initially got when they first consumed it. Unfortunately, consuming too much heroin can lead to a fatal overdose.

To detox and treat your body and brain from heroin addiction, you must receive professional detox and addiction treatment services with medical guidance. This is because the withdrawal symptoms of heroin are extremely intense and life-threatening, and thus, cannot be managed on your own.

2. Cocaine

Cocaine, even when taken in small doses, is a very dangerous stimulant. It induces euphoria, increases blood pressure, and accelerates the heart rate. Using cocaine can even cause a person to experience fatal strokes or heart attacks.

Because of how addictive cocaine is, many people that are addicted to it are willing to sacrifice any facet of their lives to get more of it. As a result, cocaine abuse can lead to financial, legal, and physical issues. Due to the severe consequences that many people that use cocaine experience, it’s imperative that those that suffer from cocaine addiction receive professional addiction treatment.

3. Crack

Crack is a potent form of cocaine that people smoke to create a short and intense euphoric sensation. Because of how inexpensive crack is, the abuse rates of crack are high. Unfortunately though, abusing crack often leads to immediate addiction.

Short-term physical consequences of abusing crack can include heart attacks and strokes at every use. Long-term physical consequences of abusing crack include severe liver, kidney, and lung damage. Because of the severity of the withdrawal symptoms of crack, it’s imperative that those that suffer from a crack addiction receive professional addiction treatment.

4. Hallucinogens

PCP (phencyclidine) and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) are hallucinogens. This means that these two substances make people feel, see, and hear things that aren’t real. When people are high on hallucinogens, they lose touch with reality and disconnect from their mental state. This creates the illusion that their minds and bodies aren’t connected or working together.

Because of how hallucinogenic PCP and LSD are, some people that abuse these two substances enter into violent states of psychosis. This could cause some people to hurt themselves and experience serious injury.

In fact, there are cases of repeated PCP and LSD abuse that have caused people to experience permanent neurological damage. Like with all of the substances that we’ve discussed thus far, getting sober from an addiction to hallucinogens requires professional addiction treatment at a treatment facility.

5. Amphetamines

Amphetamines are substances that are known for enhancing the ability of both the body and mind. Unfortunately, amphetamines are also known for causing its users to experience manic periods of distress. These manic periods are usually accompanied by extreme paranoia, inexplicable behavior, and delusions.

Some amphetamine abusers will even become violent and unintentionally attack their loved ones. Others will experience permanent physical changes in their appearance.

Irreversible brain and nerve damage are also possible consequences of amphetamine use. People that are looking to treat amphetamine addiction must do so through professional addiction treatment services with medical attention.

6. Marijuana

Types of drug abuse that are often the most common, are the ones that are the most accessible. This is part of the reason why marijuana is the most common illegal drug abused today. On top of how accessible marijuana is, many people view marijuana as not being addictive. As a result, many people recklessly use it.

Many people use marijuana for the first time when they are hanging out with their friends in social settings. Although many people view marijuana as not being addictive, when continually abused, it can be. Marijuana use can also affect your physical coordination, memory, and mental functions over time.

Some people have even lost their relationships, homes, and jobs due to their marijuana addiction. While it’s easy to start abusing marijuana, it’s not that easy to stop. Therefore, those that want to remain abstinent from marijuana should receive professional addiction treatment.

 7. Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the other types of drug abuse that is common due to its accessibility. Abusing alcohol can cause psychological, physical, and social problems. It can also lead to the destruction of relationships, friendships, and marriages.

A lot of alcohol abusers drink so much that their bodies are unable to handle it. As a result, some alcohol abusers must get sent to the hospital to receive treatment for alcohol poisoning.

When a person chronically abuses alcohol over a long period of time, it can cause that person to experience irreparable heart and liver damage. Alcohol abuse can also cause people to get arrested for public intoxication, driving under the influence, or other law-related issues.

When people are under the influence of alcohol, they lose all of their inhibitions. Therefore, when alcohol abuse is at its worse, it can even cause incidents that lead to severe injury, or death.

Because of how addictive alcohol is, the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol are just as severe. In fact, due to it causing delirium tremens, alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. This is because alcohol withdrawal delirium tremens can trigger heart failure or stroke in a person’s body.

Alcohol’s severe withdrawal symptoms combined with how difficult it is for an alcoholic to refrain from such an easily accessible substance makes it necessary for alcoholics to receive professional addiction treatment to overcome their addiction.

8. Inhalants

Inhalants are substances that people breathe in through their noses to get high. Types of drug abuse that are considered inhalants include the abuse of spray paint, butane, and nitrous oxide.

When a person smells in inhalant, it can cause that person to experience feelings of euphoria and numbness. Because these feelings are brief though, people must repeatedly breathe in an inhalant to upkeep its euphoric effect.

While it may not seem like it at first, it’s very risky to abuse inhalants.  This is because breathing in inhalants can cause permanent brain damage or sudden death.

9. Prescription Drugs

Prescription medications are the second most abused substance. Any medication that doctors can prescribe to patients is considered a prescription drug. This includes everything from depressants and anti-anxiety medication to sedatives, to even ADHD medications.

One category of prescription drugs that is arguably the most commonly abused is painkillers. Examples of prescription painkillers include Vicodin and Oxycodone, along with opioids. Many doctors prescribe patients prescription painkillers to help them manage the pain from an injury while they are in physical recovery.

Because of how addictive prescription drugs are, it’s imperative that those with prescription drug addictions receive professional detox and addiction treatment to get clean and sober.

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction

One of the reasons why drug abuse can take place for so many years without being recognized is that every person’s struggle with drug addiction is different. Many times, addicts will abuse drugs for years on end and feel as if it has little or no effect on them. Unfortunately, the irreversible psychological, emotional, and physical effects will eventually become apparent. The symptoms of drug addiction will change for each person. There are four categories to these varying symptoms. These four categories of drug addiction symptoms are described below.


Emotional drug addiction symptoms are ones that affect an addict’s emotional state and well-being. When an addict is displaying emotional addiction symptoms, the way that he or she handles emotions may appear different than the way that person normally does when not under the influence of drugs.

Types of drug abuse symptoms that are emotional include:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Extreme sadness
  • Unexplained euphoria
  • Manic energy followed by an emotional and physical crash


Behavioral drug addiction symptoms change the way that person normally behaves. Behavioral addiction symptoms can also change a person’s habits and priorities.

Types of drug abuse symptoms that are behavioral include:

  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Erratic behavior
  • Troubles sleeping
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Change in social circle
  • Getting in trouble with the law
  • Declining performance at work or school
  • Being secretive about one’s whereabouts
  • No longer being excited or interested in things that they once were


Physical drug addiction symptoms affect the way that a person’s body looks or functions. These symptoms are often noticeable to the eye.

Types of drug abuse symptoms that are physical include:

  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sudden weight gain


Cognitive drug addiction symptoms affect the way that an addict’s mind operates. This could, in turn, affect the way that an addict perceives the world. Types of drug abuse symptoms that are cognitive include:

  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • A disconnect from reality

Why Choose Free by the Sea?

Free by the Sea is a beautiful detox and addiction treatment facility located on the Long Beach Peninsula in Ocean Park, WA. Every staff member and professional here at Free by the Sea is dedicated to providing the highest quality treatment to all of our patients. We are also committed to treating each of our patients with dignity and respect.

When receiving treatment at Free by the Sea, you can rest assured that the care that you are receiving will help you overcome your addiction. This is because our facility adheres to evidence-based practices that are focused on successful outcomes for long-term recovery.

Let Us Help You Today!

If you leave a drug or alcohol addiction untreated, it will take over every aspect of your life until you have nothing left. Don’t let this happen to you. If you are ready to help yourself or a loved one overcome your drug or alcohol addiction, contact us today.