Are You Passionate Or Addicted? Spot The Difference!

When we talk about “addiction”, alcohol and drugs strike in the minds of most people. Undoubtedly, they create addiction, but are they the only substances that can be addictive?

Can certain behaviors be categorized as “addictive behaviors”? Read the complete article and get answers to all the questions running on your mind regarding addiction and addictive behaviors.

Here’s the list of top addictions according to addiction experts and psychologists:

  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine / Tobacco
  • Drugs
  • Gambling
  • Video games
  • Food
  • Coffee
  • Sex / pornography
  • Internet / social media
  • Work
  • Shopping

What Are The Types Of Addictions?

  • Substance Addiction: As the term suggests, it refers to the abusive utilization of any substance despite its adverse effects and negative outcomes that may arise.

    Examples of substances that usually lead to addiction are – over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, coffee, food, sugar, etc.

  • Behavioral Addiction: It is a process addiction that is marked by recurring, compulsive, and self-destructive behavior.

    It happens when someone gets involved in some activity to an extent that leads to harmful effects on the person’s personal and social life as well as physical and mental health

Experts believe that anyone invigorating their mind and body may become addicted, and this addiction may occur in several forms. When a habit transforms into an obligation, it is the point when it is classified as an addiction. 

Conventionally, addiction is characterized as a physical dependence in combination with withdrawal symptoms.

Although similar to specific substance addictions, some compulsive behaviors may occur that cause negative implications, which may not have unusual physical withdrawal symptoms but instead a psychological dependency.

Therefore, substance and behavioral addictions occur when a person is the target of maladaptive and repetitive patterns of usage of materials or behaviors to fulfill a self-imposed desire and self-reward syndrome leading to a physiological stimulation or “high”, but finally, carry off negative results to the self and/or others.

As research suggests that several substances and behavioral addictions might serve identical functions, it would be beneficial to think of addictions concerning challenges of lifestyle and also of the individual.

Miserably, people who suffer from behavioral addictions couldn’t stop involving in their compulsive, destructive behaviors, because of insufficient knowledge and education. So, if you recognize you or someone close to you is struggling with specific addiction, consult a psychologist. 

Passion Or Addiction: How Can You Spot The Difference?

Most regular activities and behaviors that we involve in portray our passions, aspirations, and motivations for growth and betterment.

Our passion is a degree of our enthusiasm and delight for the most desirable goal that we follow out of pleasure and excitement for self-satisfaction and fulfillment.

Balance and prudence are vital when it comes to passionate behaviors. It is when a person loses control, joy, a sense of satisfaction, and fulfillment, but keeps compulsively involved in these behaviors regardless of feelings of guilt and adverse effects on social, mental, and financial life that it is classified as addictive behaviour.

Studies suggest that the diagnosis of a substance use disorder depends upon signs of weakened control, social disability, risky utilization, and pharmacological condition (tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms).

Similar diagnosis standards shall apply to behavioral disorders as well.

Also Read: How Can You Practice Self-care During Self-quarantine?

Many people get confused between passion and addiction. So, here’s a list specially curated for those persons to spot the difference between the two:

Failed Attempts To Quit

Addicts usually show a desire to quit entirely, although are unable to accomplish this. Short-term celibacy is normal, but long-term regression rates are high. If you are trying to stop your particular behaviour altogether, but are not able to achieve it – having tried several times – this is an addiction.

Cue-triggered Regression

Experience with an addictive substance educates the user to environmental cues that consequently provoke cravings. These cues (such as jingling ice cubes) mark opportunities for consumption.

For instance, upon leaving rehabilitation, addicts who get back to their past environment have a strong possibility of experiencing cravings and restarting usage. A recuperating addict is also likely to relapse if he gets a small taste of the drug of his preference or experiences stress.

Loss Of Control

Loss of control indicates that one is consciously acting against their initial determination to refrain — for instance, consuming a greater portion of dessert after deciding to go on a diet.

The normal reaction to such failure entails strong negative feelings (like depression and self-disgust).

Desire Without Pleasure

Addicts frequently continue their behavior even after knowing that the substance (such as cigarette or alcohol) is no more enjoyable. Addicts usually report that they keep on using the drugs even when they no longer gain any pleasure.

For instance, some cigarette smokers utter a deep hatred of smoking, but they still continue to smoke consistently.

Staying Alert

Regardless of the development of specific effective treatments, there is no cure for addiction. Recovering addicts generally govern their tendency to make mistakes by practicing cognitive control, like voluntarily reducing or eradicating future alternatives.

The key objective is to alleviate the possibility of confronting cues that will cause a relapse.


Several addicts usually substitute one compulsive issue for another. They become compulsive workers or gamblers or use sex as they once utilized chemicals to fight the anxiety, depression, boredom, and emptiness that continuously intimidate to overpower them.


The self-medication hypothesis of addiction indicates that individuals with shortfalls in emotion-regulation skills – the skills appropriate for altering emotional reactions and enduring negative emotions – may utilize drugs to control harmful or distressing affective states.

For example, persons with records of exposure to unfavorable childhood environments (including physical or sexual abuse) may have a reduced capacity to manage negative emotions and deal efficiently with stress.

Genetic Susceptibility

Most people who try drugs use them only a couple of times. Some will never progress above experimentation. Others will get deeply engaged and stay that way for a considerable time.

There is significant proof of a genetic predisposition to create an addiction. For instance, because of genetic susceptibility, children of alcoholics are at the highest risk for future alcohol concerns, and many exhibit elevated levels of impulsivity.

Therefore, you can have two glasses of wine and wish no more, and still, a genetically susceptible person battles to stop with six.

“Substance Abuse” Or “Addict”

Is there some difference between a substance abuser and an addict? At some point, substance abusers are no more in command over their substance use.

Just like a pickle can never be a cucumber again, once a person goes across that point, there is an adjustment in brain circuitry that cannot be overturned. Every drug addict sets out as a casual user and then changes into a compulsive user.

Addiction Goes Beyond Substance Abuse

The psychological theory of operant conditioning implies that if a winning experience succeeds a behavior, an individual becomes very likely to reiterate the winning response in the future.

For instance, a dog performs a trick to get a treat. In human beings, operant conditioning enables them to ascertain behavior, leading to specific rewards (or results).

For instance, learning that playing video games (or work, shopping, or web surfing) is succeeded by a decline in distress, an individual will probably engage in such an act in the future.


Tags: Difference Between Hobby And Addiction, Obsession And Addiction Difference, Difference Between Addiction And Dependence, Addiction vs Habit

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Jim Carson

Jim Carson is the writer for the mental health section of He is certified in clinical mental health counselling and has conducted cognitive behaviour therapy for war veterans struggling with PTSD. Professionally and personally, Jim is an astute observer of human behaviour that reflects well in his work.