The 9 types of drug addiction and their characteristics

Consumption of substances with psychoactive properties, Specifically drugs of various types, is a very common phenomenon in today’s society. In the case of both legal and illegal substances, access to these substances is relatively easy despite the serious danger many of them represent.

The consumption of these substances tends to cause different effects in the body, ranging from inhibition and sedation to extreme arousal, hallucinations and other perceptual phenomena. Due to the effects they cause, and sometimes other factors such as psychological responsiveness to its ban or the fact that its consumption is socially accepted, many people use it more and more frequently.

Over time, the subject acquires tolerance to the substance in question, increasingly needing to achieve the same effects, and becoming addicted to the drug. Due to the high prevalence of substance use and dependence, it is essential to know the different types of addiction and the addictive process, Which are being sued to explain in this article.

What is a drug and what is addiction?

We think of drugs as all that substance which, before its administration in the body, is capable of modifying some of the functions from subject. They usually cause pleasant sensations in those who consume them, and can cause permanent effects and damage to the nervous system and can produce physical and / or mental tolerance or habituation to it and situations of dependence and abstinence. of cessation of consumption.

To consider that a drug generates a dependence it is necessary that the subject presents at least a tolerance to the substance, an abstinence before the stopping of its consumption, uncontrolled in its use, damage to the vital areas due to the consumption or to the time devoted to obtaining. and continued use despite knowledge of its harmful effects. Drug addiction can lead to abuse which can lead to intoxication, and the absence of the substance can lead to withdrawal syndromes. All of this can have serious effects on the subject’s functioning and health, potentially leading to death.

1. Type of drug addiction according to the type of substance consumed

There are many types of drugs and psychoactive substances, most of which are used as a therapeutic tool in the medical field.. However, a part of the population uses some of these substances for recreational purposes, despite the danger they can represent for health.

Although there are many possible classifications, it can be considered that addictive substances can be divided into three large groups depending on the type of effects they exhibit on the nervous system. Therefore, these three types of substances can create three types of addiction.

1. 1. Psycholeptics or depressants

These substances are characterized by producing depression of the nervous system, that is, by causing a decrease in the level of activation in the brain. Behaviorally, this results in feelings of calm and physical and mental relaxation, slowing down, calm, decreased level of consciousness. In this group we find alcohol, opium and its derivatives (codeine, heroin and morphine), tranquilizers (mainly barbiturates and benzodiazepines) and volatile or inhaled substances, such as glue.

Dependence on this type of substance is characterized by the search for tranquility or relaxation of certain functionsOr it may even be due to social type effects (alcohol facilitates disinhibition in some people by decreasing frontal lobe function and inhibiting inhibition).

1. 2. Psychoanaleptics or conductors

These types of substances are characterized by increased activation of the nervous system, Producing behavioral changes such as increased excitability, motor activation, distractibility and increased level of consciousness. Within this type of substance are cocaine, amphetamines, xanthines (among which are substances such as coffee, tea and chocolate, although their effects are comparatively less than those of others) and nicotine. .

People addicted to this type of substance seek an increase in activity and sensation, as well as an increase in energy.

1. 3. Psychodyseptics or disruptors

This third group of substances is characterized by the modification of the activity of the nervous system, being able to produce activation or inhibition and especially affecting perception. It is common for them to produce perceptual disappointments such as hallucinations and delusions. The most well-known components of this type of substance are cannabis and hallucinogens, as well as other elements such as phencyclidine (initially used as an anesthesia in surgery).

People who use these substances often go in search of new perceptual experiences and hallucinatory phenomena, or an increase or decrease in activation (for example, cannabis is characterized by analgesic and relaxing effects).

2. Types of addiction according to the type of addiction

Regardless of the type of drug consumed, psychoactive substances work in the body and over time it gets used to its presenceJust as the consuming subject gets used to and ends up needing the effects that the substance has on him. This consumption causes the nervous system to start functioning in a different way, adapting its activity to the expectation of being consumed more and more.

In this sense, we can see that a substance can cause two types of addiction, physically and mentally.

2. 1. Physical dependence

This type of addiction always occurs in conjunction with psychic addiction.. Physical dependence arises from the body’s habituation to the presence of the substance, forcing it to maintain the normal functioning to which the body has become accustomed and producing in its absence physical alterations such as gastrointestinal disturbances, seizures , vomiting or headache.

It is the type of addiction that can lead to death in abstinence processes and is necessary to prevent stopping use from occurring gradually and in a controlled manner.

2. 2. Psychic dependence

Psychic dependence is a component of drug addiction that influences the incessant search for consumption due to the need to maintain the state reached with the consumption of the substance and to avoid the undesirable effects of the homeostatic process once the effects have passed. It is a type of addiction mediated by expectations and habits.

For example, substances like cannabis can generate a high level of mental dependence, as many are associated with a group of friends, an activity to be performed in their free time, and even a public image that they want to convey.

3. The process of dependence and dependence

Taking into account the type of consumption, the existence of three phases in the dependence process can be considered. While it can be argued that all of them are considerable types of addiction, they have common characteristics and constitute a process which can lead to actual substance dependence. It is important to detect the first signs of drug addiction to avoid making problems worse in the future.

3. 1. Occasional consumption

We consider occasional consumption as the administration of a substance in unusual, unusual situations, in a context where there is no very prolonged use over time nor any craving or compulsive desire for consumption. This phase is generally not considered addiction because the individual does not have a continued addiction to a substance or generally search with anxiety.

However, it can be considered a type of drug addiction if, when it is consumed, it is abusive and so that not being very frequent, this consumption is repeated over time and when it occurs, it can generate uncontrollability. For example, alcoholics of the Epsilon type are characterized by excessive intoxication and behavioral problems, although their consumption is not common.

3. 2. Drug addiction situations

Over time, substance use can lead to addiction situations, In which the taking of the substance is carried out more and more often and in situations of nature, having tolerance and wishing its consumption.

However, the desire for consumption is not yet present on an uncontrolled and compulsive level, and can occur without their presence. It is not yet considered an addiction, but if it is not checked, it may become so.

3. 3. Drug addiction situation

The last phase of the addictive process, in drug addicts, takes place compulsively, present abstinence in his absence and largely lose control of his consumption, Causing manifest damage in areas such as employment, social or academic.

4. Depending on the number of substances you are addicted to

All these classifications take into account drug addiction on the basis of various criteria such as the phases of addiction, the type of substance or the type of addiction they generate, but there is one more element to consider.

And this is it it is possible that the addiction situation occurs with just one substanceBut it has also been observed that in some cases the same subject may become dependent on more than one type of substance, accumulating the effects of addiction and “projecting” onto addiction to another. Therefore, another type of addiction to consider is the following.

4. 1. Poly-drug addiction

This type of addiction concerns people who, depending on one substance, consume another, mainly because of the scarcity and difficulty in acquiring the first.

like that, the second substance also becomes addictive for the subject, While he did not give up his addiction to the first drug.

Usually, multiple drug abuse is due in part to propensity to impulsivity that generate addictions. Once you have started consuming one, it is much easier to start consuming another, as you learn a pattern of behavior that leads to targeting all addictions to experience a “peak” of pleasure that mitigates the effects. abstinence.

Bibliographical references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.

  • Belloch, Sandín and Ramos (2008). Manual of psychopathology. Madrid. MacGraw-Hill (vol. 1 and 2). Revised edition.

  • Kirby, KC, Marlowe, DB, Festinger, DS, Lamb, RJ & Platt, JJ (1998). The timing of voucher delivery influences the start of cocaine withdrawal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 761-767.

  • Sants, JL; Garcia, LI; Calderon, MA; Sanz, LJ; of rivers, P .; Left, S .; Román, P .; Hernangómez, L .; Navas, E .; Lladre, A and Álvarez-Cienfuegos, L. (2012). Clinical Psychology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 02. CEDE. Madrid.

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