Addictive Disorders

Substance abuse isn't the only form of an addictive disorder.
Addictive Disorders

Types of Addictive Disorders

Substance abuse isn't the only form of an addictive disorder. Common destructive habits can include substances, non-substances or behavioural habits, such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Gambling
  • Opioids (heroin, oxycodone, morphine, codeine)
  • Other prescription painkillers
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants (sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics)
  • Amphetamines (crystal methamphetamine, MDMA)
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Sex
  • Food and eating
  • Internet
  • Mobile phone/social media
  • Video gaming

Causes of Addiction

There are many reasons why individuals engage in substance misuse and unhealthy behaviours. For many sufferers of addiction, using drugs and alcohol becomes a learned way of coping with underlying issues, as opposed to seeking a healthy solution to manage the issue.

Addictive disorders can be caused by many factors, some of which are:

  • Genetic vulnerability and family history.
  • Environmental stressors including work, family and relationships.
  • Social and peer pressure.
  • Individual personality characteristics and psychiatric problems.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs of addiction do vary from person to person; however, the signs and symptoms of substance addition commonly include:

  • The inability to stop taking the substance. In many cases, such as nicotine, alcohol or drug dependence, it is common for an individual to make at least one serious attempt to give up, with this attempt often unsuccessful.
  • Withdrawal symptoms - when the levels of a particular substance in the body go below a certain level, the individual will have physical and mood-related symptoms. There are cravings, bouts of moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, a feeling of being depressed and empty, frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment. Insomnia is a common symptom of withdrawal. In some cases, the individual may have constipation or diarrhea. With some substances, withdrawal can trigger violence, trembling, seizures, hallucinations and sweats.
  • A sudden increase in appetite.
  • An individual with an addiction continues their destructive pattern despite their awareness of associated health problems. The individual will continue to take the substance regularly, even though they have developed illnesses linked to it. For example, a smoker may continue smoking even after a lung or heart condition develops.
  • Social and/or recreational sacrifices - often activities are given up because of an addiction. For example, an alcoholic may turn down an invitation to go camping or spend a day out on a boat if no alcohol is available, or a smoker may decide not to meet up with friends in a smoke-free venue.
  • Maintaining a good supply - people who are addicted to a substance will always make sure they have a good supply of it, despite the financial burden that may accompany the addiction. Sacrifices may be made in the house budget to make sure the substance is plentiful.
  • Taking risks - in some cases the addicted individual may take risks to ensure they can obtain the substance, such as stealing or trading sexual favours for money and/or drugs. Other risk-taking behaviour while under the influence may include speeding or reckless driving.
  • Problems with the law - this is more a likely characteristic of some drug and alcohol addictions (not nicotine, for example). This can be due to the substance impairing judgment and the individual taking risks they would not take if they were sober, or they break the law in order to obtain the substance.
  • Dealing with problems - an addicted individual commonly feels that they need their drug in order to deal with their problems.
  • Obsession - an addicted individual may spend an increasing amount of time and energy focusing on ways to get hold of their substance.
  • Secrecy and solitude - in many cases the addict may take their substance alone, and often in secret.
  • Denial - a significant number of individuals addicted to a substance are in denial about their addiction. They are not aware, or refuse to acknowledge, that they have a problem.
  • Dropping hobbies and activities - as addiction progresses, individuals may stop doing things they previously enjoyed. This may even be the case with smokers, who find they cannot physically cope with taking part in their favourite sport.
  • Having a 'stash' - the addicted individual may have small stocks of their substance hidden away in different parts of the house or car; often in unlikely places that are hard for others to locate.
  • Taking an initial large dose - this is common with alcoholism. The individual may gulp drinks down in order to reach intoxication and then feel good.
  • Excess consumption - in some addictions, such as alcohol, some drugs and even nicotine, the individual consumes it to excess. The consequence can be blackouts (no memory of chunks of time) or physical symptoms, such as a sore throat and bad persistent cough, for heavy smokers.
  • Relationship problems - these are more common in a drug or alcohol addiction.

Other signs and symptoms of addiction may include:


  • Extreme hyperactivity or lethargy.
  • Changes or deterioration in hygiene and/or physical appearance.
  • Tremors, sweating or impaired coordination.
  • Slurred/incoherent speech or repetitive speech patterns.
  • Bloodshot eyes/dilated pupils.
  • Excessive sniffing and runny nose.
  • Nausea and vomiting.


  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Fear or paranoia.
  • Anger outbursts.
  • Sudden mood swings.
  • Inattentiveness.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Changes in persona.
  • Euphoria.


  • Increased risk taking and participation in dangerous activities.
  • Neglecting usual responsibilities.
  • Reduced participation/missing important engagements.
  • Prolonged or regular time off work/studies.
  • Secretive or isolating behaviour/activities.
  • Unusual sleeping patterns.
  • Financial problems (i.e. asking for money).
  • Relationship/marital problems.
  • Complaints from co-workers/teachers.
  • Criminal activity.

Treatment for Addictive Disorders

Inpatient Treatment

Bethesda Clinic offers treatment of addiction and the mental health issues that often go hand-in-hand.

We provide a detox service, relapse prevention and lifestyle management strategies, and discuss the skills, techniques and strategies needed to understand and manage dependency disorders. Our treatment approach includes therapy, stress management, relapse prevention, family and supporter engagement and medication.

Our specialised treatment for addiction addresses the root causes of the disease, including:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Guilt/shame
  • Abuse or trauma
  • Abandonment (emotional or physical)

Wellness and Recovery Centre - Day Patient

For more information on the Alcohol and Substance Use Treatment Program, click here

Our approved program is run by a Alcohol or Other Drugs Specialist Service.