The Many Forms of Addiction

November 29, 2022

Addiction affects each individual differently, and no two journeys through recovery will be the same. Not only can one’s experiences with substance use disorder (SUD) differ due to the various substances one is exposed to, but even those engaging with the same substance can have vastly different experiences. As a result, there are many forms of addiction.

Simply counting the number of drinks or how often one engages with drugs may not truly reflect one’s relationship with these destructive substances. Instead, it can be more impactful to understand the ways SUD or alcohol use disorder (AUD) affect each other aspect of one’s life. 

The Various Addictive Substances

There are many dangerous substances that one can be exposed to. For some, the use of alcohol may be commonplace, and one may have been exposed to the use of alcohol in their home life or as a result of stresses of the workplace or peer pressure, each normalizing its use.

Others may struggle with an addiction to other drugs. However, while some may begin using drugs for recreational use, others may face “accidental addiction.” This type of addiction often manifests as a result of physical injury or trauma, with an individual developing an addiction to prescription painkillers and finding it difficult to function without them once one’s prescription has run out. 

Regardless of whether one is struggling with alcohol consumption or using illicit drugs — like fentanyl, benzodiazepines, heroin, meth, or any other type of drug — their experiences are still wholly unique, and each of these substances demands professional attention. Addiction affects one’s physical health and brings pervasive feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, and many other mental health disorders. Between the financial, social, and familial challenges addiction presents, identifying addiction in any form is crucial.

How Addiction Affects Daily Life

Addiction is a complicated disease that cannot be effectively measured by counting drinks or the frequency of one’s drug use. Rather, understanding one’s attitudes around the use of addictive substances can provide a better idea of one’s unique relationship with drugs or alcohol.

For some, addiction is a prevalent part of daily life. Those struggling with AUD or SUD may feel they cannot function in the morning before they have had a drink of alcohol or may use drugs before in order to feel “normal.” One may also engage with addictive substances consistently throughout the day, either in an effort to maintain their effects or to avoid the uncomfortable crashing feelings that follow the use of drugs or alcohol. 

This persistent use of drugs or alcohol can cause an individual to create entire routines based around their use, compromising one’s professional performance or attendance while also impacting how one interacts with friends, family, and more. While this persistent use of addictive substances is incredibly destructive to one’s physical and mental health, it is not the only form of addiction. 


Rather than consistently engaging with addictive substances on a daily basis, binging instead indicates that an individual may engage with addictive substances in excessive amounts in a single sitting. Typically, this equates to five drinks for men and four for women. This can often lead to an individual losing track of exactly how much one has used. One may also find it incredibly difficult to stop using alcohol or drugs once they begin, leading to blackouts, overdose, and other destructive effects. 

An individual may be able to go long periods between binges as well, and one may not necessarily feel compelled to drink or engage in substance use often. It is also a common form of addiction, with one in six adults reporting binge drinking, and 25% of those doing so weekly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Heavy Substance Use

Using drugs or alcohol multiple times a week is incredibly taxing on the body and can stay in one’s system even after the effects of alcohol or drugs have worn off. While those engaging in heavy use of drugs or alcohol may not drink or use drugs every day, that doesn’t mean that one’s body or mind has had enough time to heal from their previous use. Measuring one’s intake by the week rather than a 24-hour period is instrumental in identifying heavy use of drugs or alcohol. 

High-Functioning Addiction

This type of addiction is often the hardest to identify, and those struggling with high-functioning addiction may genuinely not recognize the need for change. With high-functioning addiction, an individual may engage with addictive substances regularly throughout each day by taking a sip of an alcoholic beverage with breakfast or using smaller doses of drugs on one’s lunch break while still maintaining employment and tending to personal responsibilities. 

However, this type of addiction is still incredibly dangerous. It is common for those who engage with addictive substances in this way to be exposed to a number of dangers. Those with high-functioning addiction are at an increased risk of legal issues, such as charges of possession or DUI. Likewise, there are still a number of intense physical and emotional ramifications of one’s use, and high-functioning addiction can often develop beneath the surface until these consequences manifest in a destructive manner.

There is never one journey with addiction, and one’s unique story may be further informed by mental health disorders or behavioral addictions, such as sex, gambling, shopping, and more. Identifying SUD will always be unique to each individual. However, just as one’s battles with SUD are personal, so too are one’s recovery efforts, and finding personalized, professional recovery can empower each individual to challenge addiction in any form it may take. 

Addiction is incredibly dangerous, and it comes in many forms. We At Buena Vista Recovery understand that your experiences and journey with addiction are wholly unique, and we are prepared to work with you to help you address addiction in whatever form it takes. From medical detox and inpatient care to intensive outpatient programs and support, we are committed to helping you see your recovery through each step of the way. With multiple locations across Arizona, we are ready to help you find the best place to begin your recovery journey today.

For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, call to speak to a caring, trained staff member today at (480) 741-9414.