The Common Addictions of Relationships, Drugs, Alcohol, Gambling & Internet

Welcome to our common addictions article, we hope that the information we have prepared for you is useful, and as always we welcome your own contributions on any aspect of common addictions. Please add them directly into the text box near the bottom of this page…thankyou.


One major addiction facing many people because of the nature of its definition is relationship addiction or co-dependency.

It is a learned dependent behavioral condition, generally with the existence of emotional, physical and / or sexual abuse, that affects people with or related (not necessarily “blood related” but environmentally or socially) to those having alcohol or drug, gambling, sex, food, work or other dependencies, or the mentally ill.

This unhealthy condition is learned from the abusers’ relationships and affects a person’s ability to have a healthy relationship.

Co-dependent is associated with “dysfunctional family” members or those feeling anger, shame, fear or pain mainly because of the addiction that is “unspoken” or discussed.

The person or persons addicted are in denial and don’t admit their dependencies or problems surrounding them. And those in relationships with them adapt this type behavior as well, keeping the “status quo” at an even keel to avoid confrontational issues and rock the boat.

Co-dependent people repress their emotions and ignore their own needs while being compulsive caretakers for the addicts. And as a result they become “survivors.”

To help keep addictions hidden, they distance themselves from the addict as well as the problems associated with the addiction, and certain behaviors develop over time.

Co-Dependent Behaviors / Traits

Inhibited Emotions – Detachment occurs. Don’t touch, don’t feel, don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t confront. Keeping the addiction hidden becomes then entire focus of the addict’s family and / or others in co-dependent relationships, shifting all main focus of safety, health, and basically life to the sick person or addict. With the focus off themselves, the co-dependent people neglect their own safety, health…in short, lives.

Self – Esteem – Low self-esteem is common among co-dependent people. To substitute something in the “real world” that would make them feel better, since their fantasy of the hidden addiction becomes their real world, they often become addicts themselves, diving into gambling, illicit sex, cigarette or marijuana smoking, work (becoming workaholics), or drugs and alcohol as well.

Martyr – These caretakers take on a martyr role while trying to “help” the addict. But their exaggerated, compulsive behaviors that they think actually “help” others, in reality negate their supposed “help.”

For example; a co-dependent person may think nothing of lying for his or her spouse or adult (or teen) children to cover up for theft to fund a drug addiction.

Since this behavior does indeed “help” the addict – stay addicted, that is, the co-dependent person feels “needed” and a cycle of dependency develops around the addict – additive behavior / substance – caretaker – caretakers compulsive actions / behaviors.

Victim – Co-dependent people feel caught up in the cycle of dependency and feel helpless to break free. They see themselves as victims and are magnetically drawn to others in similar circumstances in their relationships.

Confused – Because of the nature of the disorder, co-dependent people often confuse love with pity and rescuing. They hold on to unhealthy relationships at all costs to avoid feeling abandoned.

They feel guilty when trying to be in control, yet they feel driven to control people around them. They desperately seek approval or to be recognized, in part because of their identity loss while trying to hide the addict and addiction problems.

And in part because they don’t trust themselves or others with all of the lying going on, and can’t identify reality very well or trust their own feelings. (Outward shows of appreciation like rewards and approval help ground them).

Unhealthy emotions – Intimacy and personal boundaries become problematic, as escaping reality unfortunately comes with the need to find escape outlets. So dealing with intimate emotional issues like feeling loved can mean reaching out to the wrong person.

Anger and how to deal with it also becomes a problem and can be misdirected – both internally, causing health problems like ulcers, and externally, like in violent behaviors, because the person doesn’t know hope to cope or where to turn for help.

And adjusting to change is burdensome, with lack of effective communication skills and healthy decision-making tossed aside. So depression and anxiety-related emotions surface and fester.


The key to getting help for co-dependency is acknowledging the problem. Then seek help. Check out library books on co-dependency and to find helpful resources.

Search the Yellow Pages (under recovery programs, addiction recovery, etc.) and ask your healthcare provider or local hospitals and healthcare centers for more information and places to start.

Also visit sites like the one for Co-Dependents Anonymous at (in Spanish and English) for contacts in your state, Frequently Asked Questions, meetings, list groups, helpful literature and other tools like the 12-Steps used as a base or foundation in many recovery programs.

For more website, simply conduct a quick search of words or phrases associated with co-dependency. They will yield many sites, chat rooms, list groups, ezines and other helpful resources to aid in recovery.

For example, using your favorite search engine, type in words like; co-dependency, co-dependent relationships, and codependent recovery.

Also target groups and other resources associated with the addiction(s)directly. Each addiction pretty much has its own network of healing and recovery resources.

For instance, there is Gamblers Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Nar-Anon (for narcotics), etc. Online, simply key in the addiction and “anon” after it or “recovery” to get you started.


Some people, both professionals and non-professionals or lay people, believe that there are three types of people who drink and use drugs; Social Users, Substance Abusers and Addicts.

They consider Social Users those people who are supposedly trying to make something more out of otherwise positive, upbeat social situation – be it aninterview, sporting event, date, family gathering or other activity where people are together.

The user may be uncomfortable and try drugs to feel more at ease, to fit in, to feel less inhibited or any other number of mood-alterations, instead of simply not going or facing reality and participating in healthier situations for himself or herself.

And supposedly, as a result of this social drug or alcohol use, these Social Users do not report negative consequences like being out of control or exhibiting any bad behaviors.

Substance abusers, on the other hand, who supposedly use alcohol or drugs in light of negative experiences or episodes, as well as positive ones, report some negative effects. In general, though, instances seem relatively minor to them, like lampshades on heads or broken promises and after-party complaints.

Sometimes only one negative issue will surface afterwards; sometimes a combination of issues will surface. Not much concrete to go on is characterized with this middle stage.

Now for the heavier hitters, known as Abusers, a number of negative consequences result, regardless of whether or not the alcohol or drugs are taken for positive, negative, any and all reasons.

From one to any combination of the following negatives are often reported; negative reoccurrence of the same bad behaviors (maybe broken lamps from tripping instead of lampshades on heads), broken promises and broken limits set beforehand, mental mania or diving into deep subjects (almost in a psychological way), denial (of being drunk or high), crying jag or emotional outbursts, memory loss or confusion, and many (repeated) complaints are brought to light after the events by others.

(C) Drugs and Alcohol Addiction Behaviors / Traits

Regardless of the type of alcohol or drug dependent person, addiction or dependence is characterized by professional standards according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) (1994).

To sum up, the DSM-IV identifies an addict as having three or more of the following “symptoms” within a year’s time period:

– Mental thoughts focused on the substance (alcohol or drugs) even when not using.

– Withdrawal from society, friends, loved ones, normal activities – to focus on continued substance use.

– Using more than expected

– Substance abuse even though negative consequences directly result from the abuse (at any level: physical, emotional, social, work-related, etc.)

– Attempts to stop or “control” use and withdrawal symptoms develop (shakes, hallucinations, cravings, etc.)

– Tolerance levels can change; i.e. it takes more and more to get and sustain a drunk or high state


Drugs and Alcohol Addiction Help

Similar to the key to getting help for co-dependency, the key to getting help for drug and alcohol addiction is first in acknowledging the problem, then in getting help.

Check out library books on co-dependency and to find helpful resources. Search the Yellow Pages, online search engines, 12-Step Groups listed in community calendars, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics (or the specific drug name like “Cocaine”) Anonymous, etc.


Another top addiction is gambling. In fact, studies including research by the National Gambling Impact Commission show that gambling nationwide affects a minimum of 2.5 million people, over 1 percent of the population.

In targeted gambling areas like Las Vegas, over 5 percent of the people are expected to end up having some sort of gambling problems.

To help put those figures into perspective, gambling problems occur twice as often as cancer and twice as often as cocaine addiction.

That’s a LOT of impact.

And young people battle gambling addiction more than adults. Here are the latest prevalence rates as reported by the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, the following are the prevalence rates:


• 16-24 year old males 4%
• 11-18 year old males 4-7%
• National average, all ages 1.2%


How can you tell if someone is addicted to gambling? Similar to the characteristics noted for other top addictions, the main ones to look out for with gambling follow.

Signs of a Gambling Addiction

– Repeated attempts to stop gambling.
– Serious financial problems
– Has unrealistic view of what “life” and “the world” owes you
– Preoccupation with gambling, lying about it and denying addiction

Help for Gambling Addiction

Help is unfortunately often not sought until people hit “rock bottom” or pretty much lose about all they own, owe nearly anyone and about everyone they know (and many don’t).

Once reality sets in and denial isn’t an issue any longer (and even in some cases where it’s borderline) a nationwide 12-Step program is available, Gamblers Anonymous.

Other help can come from a combination of psychotherapist and / or counselor who helps focus on internal emotional issues, group therapy to interact with fellow addicts in recovery, and inpatient, residential or outpatient care, for short-term and long-term recovery options.

You can seek recommendations from your healthcare providers or local hospitals.


Even the Internet can be addicting! Although Internet Addiction is not yet an official disorder, obsessive Internet use is a real problem for some today.

Signs of “Internet Addiction” 

Some signs of trouble are:

– Using the Internet more and more, while going out into the real world less and less.

– Checking email too frequently during the day – every day.

– Going online every day, rarely taking a day off.

– Sneaking online to sites that you shouldn’t visit.

– Others say that you are indeed online too much.

– Sneaking online and checking email when you should be doing other things like working. Arriving before work, staying after work, skipping lunch, avoiding meetings, avoiding co-workers – to use the Internet.

But there are ways to overcome the trouble spots. Similar to other addiction recovery, realizing there is a problem is the starting point.

Facing “why” the escape from the real world is necessary is next. Then decreasing online activity and replacing it with healthier activities can help the person get back to normal.

More Help for Internet Addicts

Ways to help deal with Internet over-use are to monitor and log use, then set goals for daily activity in its place and follow up with more monitoring and strategic planning.

Being logging “when” you go online and “why” and “where.” Then over time, cut back usage by replacing alternative resources for your attention.


For example, instead of emailing people all day long, grab the phone and call others. Instead of playing games on Yahoo all night, allow yourself one hour and play solitaire or visit with a neighbor or friend and play a board game like chess.

And instead of reading ebooks and forum posts for hours on end, grab some nonfiction self-improvement books, daily newspapers or popular magazines and learn more about the industries in your work environment or about nonprofits of interest and how you can join in their causes.

Take charge and keep your mind stimulated and yourself active in the real world.

A counselor recommended by a healthcare provider may be about to help with this process, too. In this type of addiction, getting online help is probably not a good idea, since the goal is to spend LESS time online.

So seek help from those referred by your local healthcare providers for starters.

Monitoring online activity, what triggers jumping online each time, and replacing it with more appropriate, healthier activity is the key to recovery.