What Are the Different Types of Addiction Psychiatry?

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  • Written By: C. Webb
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2019
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Addiction psychiatry addresses the client's need to continue compulsive behavior regardless of the damage it causes to social, employment, and family relationships. Examples of addiction include alcohol, drugs, the Internet, gambling, and overeating. Addiction psychiatrists often specialize in one type of addiction treatment. This allows them to fine-tune their approach to that specific problem.

A common specialty in the different types of addiction psychiatry is drug addiction. Drug addiction includes dependence on illegal drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, as well as addictions to legally prescribed medications, such as anxiety or pain pills. Treatment typically includes inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, talk therapy, and medications that block withdrawal symptoms. Some treatment providers hold group counseling sessions, while others prefer to address the problem in one-on-one sessions.

Compulsive Internet use received media recognition as professionals debated its merit as an actual addiction. In the meantime, mental health workers have continued to counsel patients whose Internet use interferes with daily life. In addition to excessive Internet surfing addiction, the online ability to gamble also feeds into gambling addiction. Treatment includes giving up the Internet as well as cognitive behavioral therapy to learn alternate behaviors.


Food addiction is another specialized area with regard to different types of addiction psychiatry. Anorexia nervosa (failure to consume enough calories to sustain life) and bulimia (binge eating and purging through vomiting) are typical food addiction issues seen in the mental health field. The psychiatric approach for treatment is usually some time in an inpatient rehabilitation center, followed by outpatient group therapy. Some cases require additional one-on-one therapy sessions.

Eating disorders affect more women than men. They tend to run in families, and as many as one in 10 teenagers is affected by an eating disorder at some point in life. Symptoms include an unrealistic body image and a fixation on food. Patients are typically overachievers in school or at work.

A gambling addiction can be very costly to the addict. In the field of addiction psychiatry, this is a specialized treatment area. Gambling addicts have been known to lose entire paychecks, take out loans that are not repaid, and borrow, steal, or manipulate others to get money for gambling. Treatment often includes group therapy, medications to block compulsions, and cognitive behavioral therapy to change responses to the desire to gamble.


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