Types of Addiction | Center on Addiction

Types of Addiction

Types of addiction

Types of Addiction 1 out of 6

Approximately 16% of the U.S. population ages 12 and over has a substance problem. This includes:

  • Nicotine (approximately 9%)
  • Alcohol (approximately 7%)
  • Illegal drugs (approximately 2%)
  • Prescription drugs (approximately 1%) 

Note: The percentage of the population with each type substance problem adds to more than 16% because some people have more than one type.

Over half of those with a substance problem also use or have problems with another substance.  

Types of addiction infographic

More than 1 in 6 with a substance problem have multiple substance disorders.

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Over half of those with addiction are also using other substances. 

Among people with a substance problem, nearly 1 in 5 have multiple substance disorders.  
  • Nicotine: over 1/5 have another alcohol or drug problem
  • Alcohol: nearly 1/3  also have a nicotine or other drug problem
  • Illegal drugs: nearly 2/3 have another substance problem
  • Prescription drug: nearly 3/4 have another substance problem
Other compulsive behaviors, such as those related to gambling, food and sex, for example, may also be expressions of addiction.  

Some research suggests that these types of “behavioral addictions” involve similar changes in the brain, common risk factors and behaviors. They also show common responses to certain types of treatment. These findings suggest the possibility that addiction may be one disease with different forms or expressions.


  • CASAColumbia. (2012). Addiction medicine: Closing the gap between science and practice
  • Shaffer, H. J., LaPlante, D. A., LaBrie, R. A., Kidman, R. C., Donato, A. N., & Stanton, M. V. (2004). Toward a syndrome of model addiction: Multiple expressions, common etiology. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 12(6), 367-374.

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