Today, according to French government figures, there are 14 million daily smokers or 1.5 million regular cannabis users in France. There are also about 41,000 deaths per year attributable to alcohol. When we talk about addiction or dependence, we tend to think of so-called “hard” drugs such as cocaine and heroin, but addictions are not just that. In this article, you will be able to discover the precise terms of addiction and dependence, see the different types of addictions that exist as well as see how they can be treated.

Some definitions

The terms addiction and dependence are very similar and are generally used in the same way.

The American Psychiatric Association has defined addiction in the DSM-IV (1994) as “inappropriate use of a substance leading to clinically significant impairment of functioning or suffering” with characteristics such as the need to consume the substance in large quantities, the amount of time spent using and seeking the substance, or the abandonment of certain activities (social, professional, leisure) because of the substance.

Is there only one type of addiction?

The term addiction is therefore another term to designate this relationship of dependence for the individual to a substance. A quote from Fouquet illustrates this dependency relationship: “Alcoholism is the loss of the freedom to abstain from alcohol” (1956).

There are several different types of addiction. These include:

Opiates (heroin, morphine)

However, there are also addictions without substances such as gaming addictions (video games, gambling…) or sex addiction for example.

How to treat them?

In order to treat addictions, the most effective way is to go see your doctor so that he or she can refer you to a professional specialized in the treatment of addictions (doctor, psychiatrist, addictologist, etc.). Generally, medications are used to fill the feeling of lack of molecules (for example nicotine patches to fill the lack of nicotine present in tobacco). Without motivation the treatments will be useless. Therefore, one must be motivated and willing to change one’s behavior in order to treat an addiction.

To begin with, we can use the Di Clemente and Prochaska transtheoretical model of behavior change from 1984. This model consists of 7 steps in total:

  • Pre-reflection: here the person does not think they have a problem with their use and does not consider changing their behavior
  • Reflection: here the person begins to consider a change
  • Preparation: here the person feels ready to change their behaviour
  • Action: here the person is committed to change
  • Follow-up/maintenance: here, the person continues to change but the temptations become more and more frequent
  • Relapse: here, the person may relapse, which is not serious
  • Success: here, the person has succeeded in changing their behaviour

In order to illustrate this model, we can base ourselves on the cessation of smoking with the main question “Do you think you will stop smoking?”

Pre-reflection“No, not in 6 months.”
Reflection“Yes, in the next 6 months.”
Preparation“Yes, within the next month.”
Action “I have been quit for less than 6 months.”
Follow-up/maintenance“I have been quit for more than 6 months.”
Relapse“I stopped but started again.”

This model is a theory, but each accompaniment is individualized and unique to each person. This is why it is always preferable to work with professionals to be able to treat one’s addictions, as well as to have loved ones who can help one throughout the process of changing one’s behavior (in this case addiction).

So there are many types of addictions, some to substances and some not. They can be treated in different ways with the help of an adapted professional. Some addictions are more invisible than others and may not be noticed at first. If you suffer from an addiction, don’t be ashamed to seek professional help or talk to your loved ones about it so they can help you.

Here are some links that may be helpful if you need information or just want to talk about it: