Click Above To Find Out How!
Virtual Tour

Types of Drug Addiction

Authentic Recovery Center | Licensed Provider for Detoxification, Residential, Outpatient and Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment in Los Angeles, California.

“Addiction literally tore apart my life. ARC helped me rebuild it.”

Allison – Los Angeles, California

Getting Started

The Authentic Recovery Center is a drug addiction treatment center located in Los Angeles, California. Our program offers both inpatient and outpatient levels of care, designed to address both co-occurring disorders and addiction issues. If you would like to learn more about our advanced, evidence-based approach to addiction treatment call 1 877 415 4673 now.

Learning More

This section of the website will provide a broad overview of the more common manifestations and types of drug addiction. Discussion will include a general summary of what constitutes drug addiction, followed by a brief overview its symptoms, and finally ARC’s treatment methods.

Types of Drug Addiction

Types of drug addiction is an enormous, multi-tiered set of categories referring to a condition that can take shape in virtually endless variations. Addiction can encompass ritualized, maladaptive behaviors that express themselves in a multitude of compulsive conditions, which may include, in addition to alcohol or drugs, shopping, eating, or sexually acting-out. With regards to drug addiction, in which pathology is usually accompanied by complicating features from other mental health disorders, and individuals can become addicted regardless of the substance’s legal standing, how the drugs are acquired (e.g., illegally on the street or prescribed by a physician), or how they affect the person’s body (e.g., sedatives vs. stimulants, both which can, and are, regularly abused).

Addiction vs. Drug Abuse

What sets true addiction apart from abusive behavioral patterns, however, is that the individual who is truly an addict is compelled by the presence of specific psychological markers and genetic predispositions; and as such must have available a treatment team trained to deal with the complex issues that give shape to their addiction (more below). Comprehending the process by which addiction occurs can enable one to distinguish between chronic patterns of abuse and a genuine addictive cycle, which is highly significant for diagnostic reasons and determining what treatment protocols an addict requires to get clean. Regarding treatment, it is usually necessary for the addict to participate in some form of specialized treatment program, be it an outpatient program, in patient program, or attending some form of 12 Step support group.

Stages of Drug Addiction

It is worth noting that addiction is not necessarily the inevitable conclusion of abuse, and that some people are capable of abusing substances illegal or legal for years without developing addictive characteristics. Scenarios exist in which an individual demonstrates, over a period of years, patterns of abusive behavior that, although destructive in their own rite, lack the complex psychological,  neurological, and clinically pathological requirements necessary to make a diagnosis of addiction. Curiously, family members or loved ones living with addicts also go through a number of maladaptive changes brought on by being in the presence of an addict, which are analogous of the stages of addiction the addict passes through.

Effects on the Family System

This dynamic is a phenomenon specific to addiction; people living with cancer victims do not, as a rule, take on the traits of the cancer sufferer, however much they empathize or sympathize with their loved-one’s condition. Not so the person living with the addict. There occurs with the loved one or family member similar features that include secretive behaviors, lying about the condition itself, and experiencing increasing isolation from potential sources of support. For this reason, comprehensive treatment must include a family dimension that allows the family member’s loved ones to also become immersed in the recovery process.


The hallmarks of addiction include, along with the mental and psychological pathology previously referred to, the development of behaviors that increasingly prioritize acquisition and use of a particular substance or medication, the development of tolerance and dependence (which means that over time the addict must ingest larger and larger quantities of the drug to maintain their high), and continued use despite the presence of ever worsening consequences; which include legal ramifications, unemployment, mental deterioration, and increasingly serious health complications.

Scheduling System for Drugs of Abuse

Generally speaking drugs are tightly regulated by the government, which employs what is known as a Scheduling System to determine a medication or drug’s addictive potential. There are five Schedules, with a Schedule I substance being considered so addictive that it has literally no medical benefits to suggest itself. Heroin and Crack Cocaine fall into the Schedule I category. This system, although dated, serves the purpose of giving one a general idea of a substance’s priorities with regards to its addictive potential and its potential for abuse.

Drugs with Addictive Potential

Be that as it may, drugs that fall into one of the other four categories can also have radically harmful consequences if used for prolonged periods of time for reasons other than why they were prescribed. Benzodiazepines, which are a class of minor tranquilizers including Valium and Xanax, are highly addictive and demonstrate tolerance and dependence fairly quickly. Benzodiazepines are one of the most widely abused drugs that are available today. Other substances that can serve as addictive outlets include:


Alcohol – generates short term euphoria and sedation. Perhaps the most widely abused substance available. Prolonged abuse induces severe physical handicaps, liver damage, and, eventually, mental health deterioration.


Amphetamines – operate on the mesolimbic pathways by stimulating production of the neurotransmitters Dopamine and Norepinephrine. Amphetamines are one of the most widely abused drugs available today. Abuse is not determined by gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic background.


Barbiturates – Barbiturates are a class of drugs known as hypnotic sedatives. They work by depressing the central nervous system and slowing down bodily functions such as heart-rate, blood pressure, and breathing. Barbiturates generate a variety of effects that run the gamut from minor sedation to complete anesthesia.  There exist several different kinds of Barbiturates, including short-acting, long-acting, and fast-starting. In the past they have been prescribed to treat conditions such as Anxiety Disorder or Insomnia, and are sometimes used as analgesics, or pain medications.

Club Drugs

Club Drugs – refers to a variety of compounds that tends to be abused by adolescents, teen-agers, and young adults. These drugs span a fairly broad spectrum of substances that include both Stimulants and Depressants. Over the past decade they have become popular with people who go to raves, bars, concerts, and nightclubs. Because many of the drugs (although not all) are relatively new to the market, research regarding long-term effects are incomplete. Current data and statistics, however, indicate that this class of substances is most frequently abused by those within a specific youth culture, and as such poses certain clinical considerations with regards to treatment protocols that might be different from therapeutic approaches targeting an adult population of abusers.

The following is a list of drugs that are considered to be Club Drugs. The list includes:

  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyric Acid)
  • Rohypnol (Roofies)
  • Ketamine Hydrochloride (Special K)
  • Methamphetamine
  • LSD


Cocaine – Cocaine is a highly addictive, highly powerful stimulant that is derived from the Coco plant and typically comes in a powdered form. The powder can be snorted, injected, or cooked down into a compound that can be smoked called free-base or crack. With the exception of Methamphetamine, Cocaine is presently the single most abused stimulant in the country and is frequently used with depressants such as alcohol, Benzodiazepines and Heroin. In the 1970s the drug enjoyed a renaissance in popularity and was touted by experts as being non-addictive because it doesn’t have the physical symptoms of withdrawal one sees with Heroin or liquor or sedatives. After the explosion of crack in the mid 1980’s, however, opinion changed and it is now accepted that Cocaine’s has powerfully addicting psychological properties.


Crack – Crack is a form of Cocaine that is designed to be smoked and comes in rocks of varying color and size. It is related to free-base in that it has been cooked down to release –  or “free” – the addictive properties from its impurities. In this way it is a purer form of the drug than the crystalline powder that is typically snorted or injected. It has a variety of street names including rock, base, or cavy, and is considered to be the most addictive form of the drug available. Crack generates a rush and high that is as intense as it is brief, creating a powerful reward stimulus-loop that inevitably, over time, leads to more use, with each subsequent dose reinforcing the next. Crack first appeared en masse in urban neighborhoods in the early to mid-1980’s, and quickly evolved into public health crises of epidemic proportions, affecting hundreds of thousands of people regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status.


Hallucinogens – Hallucinogens refer to a class of substances that fall into 3 distinct categories. These include what are known as Deliriants, Psychedelics, and Dissociatives. Although there is overlap between the effects and symptoms of intoxication, drugs in each category tend to generate different experiences. Historically, the use of Hallucinogens goes back thousands of years. In different cultures they have been utilized for a variety of reasons, typically for religious ceremonies (for example Native Americans have taken Mescaline for centuries to induce spiritual experiences). In general, unlike the effects produced by opiates or stimulants, which are used for purely recreational reasons, the psychedelic experience is commonly associated with altered states of being or consciousness, with trance-like states, and with dreaming and meditation.


Narcotics – Narcotic derives from the Greek word for benumb (Narko). Medically it refers to a class of substances that induced sleep or have analgesic, pain-killing properties. Today it is most commonly associated with drugs that fall into the classification of Opiates, such as Morphine, Heroin, and their analogs like Hydrocodone (Vicodin). However, since the legal definition of Narcotics differs from the medical definition, there are actually two different classifications that consequently cover a broad range of psycho-active compounds and drugs. The first drug to truly be labeled as a Narcotic was liquor, whose recorded use goes back to ancient times.

Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription Drug Addiction – Prescription drugs are an umbrella term that covers an enormous array of different medications designed to treat a variety of ailments. The vast majority of prescription drugs is relatively harmless, at least with regards to Addiction, and covers the entire spectrum of both physical and mental health ailments; with regards to Abuse Potential, however, the medications of interest include Stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall (used for the treatment of ADHD), sedatives and tranquilizers (Benzodiazepines), and Narcotic Painkillers such as Percocet, Vicodin, or Morphine.

Types of Drug Abuse and Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Treatment for drug addiction is as varied as the substances ingested. Care must be comprehensive and flexible; calibrated in such a way to ensure that the individual in need of help receives the correct attention. As stated previously, where true addiction has manifested, there is almost invariably the emergence of, or presence of, a complex array of complicating mental health disorders that can include conditions such as Anxiety disorders or Depression; states which make treating the addiction that much more nuanced. In these cases, cases in which there exist multiple disorders, the addict is said to be dual diagnosed, which means that an individual’s addiction occurs simultaneously with another mental health problem, each aggravating the other and both contributing to the problems of the individual. In addition to the conditions just noted, the list of psychiatric disorders that frequently occur in the presence of addiction include disorders such as Bipolar Disorder and Compulsive Disorders, in addition to conditions such as Schizophrenia and Personality Disorders.

Relapse Risks

Because of the complexity of the issues dual diagnosed clients suffer from treatment is difficult, and relapse common. Addiction treatment that involves dual diagnosed clients presents hurdles to both the treatment team as well as the suffering addict that tends to be more challenging than the issues faced by people suffering from Addictions that are free-standing conditions.

Comprehensive Assessment

Regarding prescription drug addiction, care must be taken to ensure that the abuser fully comprehends the dimensions of their condition. Denial is a component of every form of addiction, and at some point in the treatment process must be dealt with. Because of the seeming legitimacy of drugs that are prescribed by physicians, with this class of addict, the obstacle can be particularly difficult to overcome. Individuals who are dual diagnosed must be committed to overcome and manage not just their addiction, but also the accompanying mental illness and all of its attendant complications.  Figuring out where one condition starts and the other stops requires a treatment team properly trained to both assess and prescribe according to the needs of the client.

Interdisciplinary Clinical Techniques

At ARC, our clinical program and our treatment team is specifically trained to address the many facets of this condition. ARC operates with the stated intention of creating for the addict an intimate, therapeutic community that fosters the kind of social and clinical dynamics necessary for the addict to successfully overcome their addiction; dynamics that by their very nature are safe and trusting, and ensures that the integrity of the addict is honored. In every therapeutic community (with regards to addiction) there is typically a standardized set of priorities that determine and shape the nature of the treatment the client receives. ARC prides itself on its relentless commitment to abandon such practices in favor of creating an environment that consistently honors the needs of every individual seeking help.

Evidence-Based Methods

Often times this includes aspects of the treatment regimen that are not necessarily amenable to scientific measurement; e.g., the nature and kind of relationships ARC fosters between its therapists, its staff, its counselors, and also relationships between the clients themselves, that is intensely intimate; the result being that the addict is able to establish, sometimes for the first time in their life, relationships that are authentic and genuine in such a manner that they encourage the addict to confront themselves and challenge assumptions and belief systems that have kept them sick for the entirety of their addiction.

Multidisciplinary Treatment Approach

ARC’s multidimensional approach includes medical interventions overseen by our MDs, who work in conjunction with our therapists and clinical staff to ensure that a treatment plan is created and adhered to that gives the client the best possible chances for recovery. ARC’s Treatment Services include:

  • The most advanced and effective dual diagnosis treatment available.
  • Comprehensive assessments that take into consideration both medical, psychological, and emotional factors.
  • Detoxification services that are closely monitored by our trained staff and overseen by our doctors.
  • A dignified approach that honors the total needs of the client.
  • Counseling that includes family counseling, group counseling, as well as one-on-one counseling.
  • Ongoing therapy with clinicians who specialize in addiction pathology.
  • Long-term treatment planning that includes aftercare, extended care, and alumni services.
  • Integrated treatment specially designed to treat dual diagnosed individuals. This includes psychiatric care, oversight of medications, and continued aftercare.

Call to Learn More about Los Angeles Addiction Treatment Today

This is by no means a comprehensive picture of the services ARC provides. Please visit the other sections of our website to better understand the full spectrum of addiction treatment options available to you or your loved one. Education is the most important tool available to you, and keeping current on latest treatment practices is the best way to ensure you or someone you love receives the care they need. If you would like to learn more about our co-occurring disorders treatment services please call 1 877 415 4673 to speak with a counselor today.

  • Share With Everybody!

  • Insurance Plans

    We accept most PPO health insurance plans. Access our free verification form to learn more about your coverage.
  • Request a FREE Assessment

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)


    Your Message

    Enter The CAPTCHA Code


  • Testimonials

    • Real Life, Real Drug Treatment

      Real drug use requires real drug treatment… If I could summarize my experience at the

    • Professional Observation

      My name is Dr. Saunders. I have a practice in Northern California and I primarily

    • My Experience

      Before enrolling in the Authentic Recovery Center I was completely lost in my depression and

    • Simply the Best…

      Having been through a few rehabs in my time, I feel like I am somewhat

    • A Great Program

      Before I went to the Authentic Recovery Center I attended two other drug rehab programs.