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Most Common Addictions

Addictions are compulsive behaviors toward a substance or activity that induces pleasure or some form of gratification. Addiction goes beyond drugs and alcohol. Activities such as excessive shopping, video gaming, sex and gambling can also qualify as addictions. An addiction is more than just a bad habit — it is a medical condition that requires treatment.

10 Most Common Addictions

One in every eight Americans suffers from an addiction. Here is our list of the 10 most common addictions:

  • Video games: Video game addictions are prevalent among both younger and older demographics and can wreak havoc on family and psychological functioning. According to experts, roughly 10% of gamers have compulsive addiction issues.
  • Internet: Types of Internet addiction include information mining, cybersex, social networking, gaming, shopping and gambling. It’s estimated that upward of 6% of the U.S. population has an internet addiction. It is important to note that while Internet Gaming Disorder is an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), internet addiction is not recognized by the DSM-V or the World Health Organization (WHO) as of the time of this writing.
  • Alcohol: The World Health Organization (WHO) states that alcohol causes 20 to 30 percent of worldwide incidences such as cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, vehicle accidents, murder, liver cancer and esophageal cancer. At any given time, around one out of every eight Americans could be considered an alcoholic.
  • Tobacco: Tobacco is responsible for causing the most health damage in the world. Every year, 1.3 billion people die due to tobacco use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 34 million Americans smoke tobacco, and 16 million live with some sort of smoking-related disease. Despite the inherent danger, tobacco is still a massive industry. Experts expect the tobacco industry to be worth $878.35 billion in 2020.
  • Drugs: Both illegal drug use and prescription medications are on the rise around the world. The most abused drugs include heroin, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines. Experts estimate that more than 21 million Americans are currently living with a drug addiction of some sort.
  • Shopping: Shopping addicts may get an initial thrill after buying something that can quickly dissipate into guilt. These negative feelings then lead to more shopping. “Retail therapy” might sound like a safe way to deal with your problems, but this addiction can have serious negative consequences, especially with money management. Studies on this addiction are few and far between, but researchers estimate that shopping addiction might affect anywhere from 1.8% to 16% of the adult population in the United States.
  • Sex: Sex is an addiction used by many to relive compulsions, reduce anxiety or escape from reality. Currently, more than 30 million people in the United States alone are living with some sort of sexual addiction. In addition, sex addiction can negatively impact a person’s health and career and damage their legal, social and emotional standing.
  • Food: Unrealistic ideas concerning body shape in the media and fast-food advertisements can contribute to dysfunctional eating patterns that can lead to food addictions. Roughly 5% of the population lives with a food addiction. While it’s not considered an eating disorder, food addiction usually involves meals and snacks high in fat and sugar. These substances supercharge the brain’s reward system, eventually overriding the body’s natural signals to stop eating.
  • Gambling: Gambling is a source of income for some social and humanitarian programs and is becoming more widespread. Some of the most common forms of gambling are horse racing, casino gambling, national lotteries and scratch cards, bingo, pub fruit machines, football pools and other lotteries and raffles. Currently, 2.6% of the population lives with a gambling addiction.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of addictions. Anything that stimulates the brain’s reward circuits can eventually become addictive. These are simply the most common types of addiction found in the United States.

Most Abused Illicit Drugs in the United States

According to U.S. government statistics, about 24.6 million people used an illicit drug in the last 30 days. The most common addictions in the U.S. today are:

  • Cocaine: Cocaine is the second most trafficked illicit drug in the U.S.
  • Hallucinogens: According to a 2017 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use, approximately 17 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 have used hallucinogens at least once.
  • Heroin: From 2007 to 2016, the number of people that consumed heroin increased almost every year in the U.S.
  • Marijuana: Marijuana use has increased from 14.5 million users in 2007 to 19.8 million in 2013. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), marijuana is the most used drug in the United States. Legalization for medical and recreational use at state levels contributes to this.
  • Prescription drugs: Pain relievers represent some of the most popular prescription-type drugs. Other commonly used drugs include stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall and sedatives like Valium and Xanax.
  • Methamphetamine: According to the NSDUH, about 1.6 million people reported using methamphetamine in the past year in 2017.

Though not illicit, over-the-counter medicines are also worth noting. While their dosages are significantly lower than their prescription counterparts, some types of over-the-counter (OTC) medications are also abused. Specifically, products like cough syrup that contain dextromethorphan and antidiarrheal medications that contain loperamide are prone to abuse. Both substances are classified as opioids, though there isn’t enough of the chemical to cause those effects when taken according to package directions.

Choosing a Rehab Facility

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, there is always hope! Gateway has trained clinicians ready to assist you or a loved one in the recovery process. Contact us today to learn more.

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