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Addiction: Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders

Addiction Definition

Addiction, as a field of psychological study and medicine, has a surprisingly elusive definition. As new science emerges, experts are constantly debating and updating what should be considered an addiction from a medical standpoint. To complicate matters further, the label itself has been periodically changed to attempt to destigmatize the disease and its treatment.

When the DSM-5 changed the “Substance-Related Disorders” section to “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders” to allow compulsive gambling to be classified the same way drug and alcohol addiction is classified, the door opened to begin considering many compulsive behaviors this way. Here, we are going to try to join real world experience with scientific understanding to get to the bottom of some common questions.

Substance Use Disorders

The DSM-5 separates 10 classes of drugs for diagnosis of substance-related disorders. These classes are:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Cannabis (marijuana)
  • Hallucinogens (like LSD, commonly known as acid)
  • Inhalants (like keyboard duster and nitrous oxide)
  • Opioids (prescription opioids and heroin)
  • Sedatives, Hypnotics, and Anxiolytics (including benzodiazepines like Xanax and sleeping pills like Ambien)
  • Stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.)
  • Tobacco
  • Other substances

The authors admit that these classes are not fully distinct and that any drugs that are taken in excess to activate the brain reward pathway have the potential for misuse. So, lets take a look at these classes and try to answer some common questions. You can read more about substance-specific use disorders on the pages below or proceed to our substance use frequently asked questions section. 

For more information on treatment for substance use disorders, check out our West Palm Beach alcohol treatment program or Palm Beach Detox Center

Frequent Questions About Addiction

Is Addiction a Disease?

Addiction can be traced to distinct physiological abnormalities in the brain. Some of these abnormalities are changes that occur in response to repeated drug or alcohol use. Interestingly, not everyone’s brain responds the same way to drug exposure – some people’s brains don’t change and as a result they do not undergo behavioral changes associated with substance use disorder.

In addition, addiction has hereditary components. Regardless of upbringing, a person who has a biological parent who suffered from alcohol or drug dependence is more likely to suffer from alcohol or drug dependence themselves.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease with parallels to addiction. While there are genetic components to type 2 diabetes, and obvious biological factors that contribute to who will develop the disease, it is also associated with unhealthy eating habits and obesity. In the same way, not everyone who uses drugs and alcohol experience problems. Those who do become dependent responded differently to the substance than those who do not.

Type 2 diabetes is not a choice or moral failure, and neither is addiction. And like any other disease, proper treatment is necessary for long-term recovery. If you or a loved one are looking for help, check out our luxury South Florida Detox facility – where quality medical care meets private luxury comfort. 

Is LSD Addictive?

According to Brown University, LSD (also known as acid) is not considered an addictive drug. LSD does not produce physical dependence from repeated use in the way that alcohol, opioids, and many other addictive drugs do. In addition, users who repeatedly take LSD over a short period of time develop a tolerance which makes the drug undesirable for binge use.

However, the DSM-5 does include a section on hallucinogen-related disorders which includes LSD. Acid is a powerful drug that significantly alters a user’s perception of reality. As with any other mind- or mood-altering substance, maladaptive behavior surrounding its use can occur. In this way, the same criteria for other substance use disorders apply to LSD and addiction is possible.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Marijuana always seems to be a topic of debate for some reason or another. While there are many valid medical uses for the drug, which can now be legally prescribed in many states, it is not free from risk. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, repeated marijuana use can result in dependence. This means that quitting results in physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

More and more people who use marijuana have begun seeking treatment for cannabis use disorder, reporting that they cannot stop on their own and their marijuana use has interfered with aspects of their lives. In conclusion, while marijuana may seem harmless, marijuana use disorder is a legitimate and debilitating condition.

Is Trazodone Addictive?

Trazodone is an antidepressant drug that belongs to the category of serotonin receptor antagonists and reuptake inhibitors (SARI). This class is similar to the class SSRI, which includes common medications like Prozac. A common side effect of trazodone is reduced anxiety and drowsiness, which is why it is often prescribed off-label as a sleep aid.

Trazodone does not have a particularly high potential for abuse; however, addiction can occur. Physical dependence does occur from repeated use, and because some users enjoy the relaxing effects of the drug there is a potential for misuse.

Is Adderall Addictive?

Adderall, a medication prescribed to treat ADD/ADHD, has become a commonly abused drug. Its use is especially common among college students who consider it a “study drug”.

Because Adderall is an amphetamine, it produces an increase in energy and alertness. It also produces a feeling of euphoria and increased confidence. Like other amphetamines, including methamphetamine, Adderall is addictive.

Process Addictions

Process addictions, also known as behavioral addictions, are compulsive behaviors that produce a feeling of reward and resemble behavioral patterns of substance dependence. Regardless of the specific behavior, a series of shared mental health disorder features seem to be present. These features include:

“repetitive, persistent and dysfunctional behaviors, loss of control over behavior in spite of the negative repercussions of the latter, compulsion to satisfy the need to implement the behavior, initial wellbeing produced by the behavior, craving, onset of tolerance, abstinence and, ultimately, a progressive, significant impairment of overall individual functioning.”

These psychological addictions often have just as serious physical, emotional, financial,  and interpersonal consequences as drug problems.

Sex Addiction

Sex addiction (SA), also known as impulsive-compulsive sexual behavior, is defined by a major role of sexual activity in the daily lives of those affected. They feel compelled to give in to their sexual desires and lose control, despite the significant repercussions it has on their personal health, relationships, and, in some cases, legal difficulties.

Sex addicts are always on the lookout for exciting circumstances, or scenarios that might lead to a no-strings-attached sexual experience. They often have many sexual partners and may engage in compulsive masturbation. Similar to drug addicts, sex addicts often feel remorse or guilt after engaging in this behavior which feeds their compulsion to continue the behavior to self-soothe. Disorders related to SA include compulsive masturbation and pornography obsession.

Porn Addiction

Porn addiction is a hypersexual disorder that may or may not include excessive masturbation. An addiction to pornography can cause significant interpersonal relationship problems, particularly in intimate relationships. Escalating pornography interests can lead to decreased satisfaction in one’s sex life, and increasingly risky behavior surrounding porn (like watching it at work). Some signs that you may have a problematic relationship with pornography include the following:

  • You disregard your other obligations in order to watch pornography.
  • You watch even more extreme pornography in order to receive the same relief that less extreme pornography used to provide.
  • After viewing porn, you feel frustrated or humiliated, yet you continue to do so.
  • You want to quit consuming pornography, but you can’t.
  • You spend a lot of money on pornography, possibly leaving yourself too financially insecure to afford necessities
  • You view pornography to cope with negative emotions like sadness or anxiety

Food Addiction

Researchers use the term “food addiction” to characterize obsessive eating patterns in people that mimic addiction-like behaviors. According to research, certain people are more susceptible than others to develop an addiction to appealing foods, which are heavy in fat and sugar.

Other research suggests that persons who may have an overeating disorder display “seeking” behaviors, as well as other symptoms and desires that are comparable to those seen in those who have a drug use problem. There is no widely recognized clinical definition of “food addiction,” and it is not listed as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, several actions have been linked to this idea by researchers. These are some of them:

  • Compulsive overeating, even when not hungry
  • Cravings for foods high in fats and sugars
  • Difficulty controlling portions
  • Binge eating

Internet Addiction

Internet addiction, as a category, includes addiction to video games, social media, and cell phone use. Like these other addictive behaviors, compulsively checking and interacting on social media, or playing video games can be reinforcing. People who are addicted social media get a hit of dopamine from the attention that they receive and the constant updates. Video games produce similar rewards in the brain and can overpower the normal reward pathway.

When a person continues to engage in these behaviors, despite clear negative consequences in their lives, he or she displays patterns similar to those seen in drug and alcohol addicts. Unlike gambling though, internet addiction is not included in the DSM-5.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one are suffering from compulsive behaviors or substance abuse, give us a call on our addiction hotline. We can help connect you with resources from our addiction network that can help you find your way to long term recovery. Don’t let shame keep you from the help that you need – reach out today to inquire about admission at our Palm Beach Recovery Center!   

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Information on DSM-5 expanding definition from CNS Spectrums

Information on DSM drug classification from DSM Library

Information on LSD from Brown University

Information on trazodone from Drugs.com

Information on compulsive behavioral disorders from The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Information on sexual compulsions from Journal of Psychopathology

Information on pornography problems from Medical News Today

Information on overeating disorder from Medical News Today