Types of Addiction | CASAColumbia

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 addiction. This includes:

  • Approximately 9% with addiction involving nicotine 
  • Approximately 7% with addiction involving alcohol
  • Approximately 2% with addiction involving illegal drugs
  • Approximately 1% with addiction involving controlled prescription drugs

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

People with addiction involving one substance are often risky users of or have addiction involving other substances. 

Over half of those with addiction (56%) are risky users of one or more other substances.

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More than 1 in 6 (17%) of those with addiction have addiction involving multiple substances.

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56% of those with addiction are also using other substances in risky ways. 

Among people with addiction, approximately 17% have addiction involving multiple substances
  • Approximately 21% of those with addiction involving nicotine also have addiction involving alcohol or other drugs
  • Approximately 30% of those with addiction involving alcohol also have addiction involving nicotine or other drugs
  • Approximately 62% of those with addiction involving illegal drugs also have addiction involving nicotine, alcohol or controlled prescription drugs 
  • Approximately 75% of those with addiction involving controlled prescription drugs also have addiction involving nicotine, alcohol or illegal drugs
Other compulsive behaviors, such as those related to gambling, food and sex, for example, may also be expressions of addiction.

All of these expressions or types of addiction 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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