Is your passion for gambling, exercising, or watching online videos a fun hobby or a sign of something more serious? It might surprise you, but addiction is a complex condition that comes in many forms and can happen to anyone. Generally speaking, addiction is an inability to stop using a substance (from tobacco to illegal drugs) or engaging in a behavior (from shopping to sex) despite negative consequences. Why is this? The reward center in the brain releases dopamine in response to a pleasurable experience or hyperarousal. The more times people experience the behavior, the more dopamine is released and the more driven they are to return to the behavior. If you find yourself shifting your priorities, increasingly isolated or feeling irritable when not engaged in a behavior, it may be time to get help in breaking the pattern.

Addictive Personality Traits

Everyone has interests that they are passionate about, but how do you know if your love of something is interfering with life and actually is a problem?

The Difference Between Behavioral and Substance Addiction

Addiction is a complex condition that has a wide range of manifestations. Some addictions can be in the form of substances such as drugs or alcohol. Whereas other addictions can be categorized as behavioral addictions and found in activities such as shopping, gambling, video gaming, and eating.

Behavioral Addiction

Substance Addiction

Substance Abuse Addiction

Substance use disorder can start with experimental use of a recreational drug in social situation but then the drug use becomes more frequent. As drug use increases, one may find that it's increasingly difficult to go without the drug.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol, while often socially acceptable and legal for those over the age of 21, can turn into a problem for many. In fact, alcohol abuse affects millions of Americans each year.

Screen Addiction

The world is largely digital. From checking social media on our phones to gaming or binging a new show, it’s hard to escape this cultural norm. So how do you unplug and give your brain a break?

Gambling Addiction

Many people gamble without issue. Some people, however, may begin to lose their savings, lie about losses, or chase bets. Learn the signs and treatments of gambling addiction.

Helping Someone with an Addiction

Motivating someone to seek help for alcohol or drug misuse, compulsive eating, or other addictive behaviors can be challenging. Discover when to hold an intervention and how to make it successful.

When and How to Hold an Intervention

Sometimes, an intervention from loved ones can motivate a person with an addiction to finally seek help. 

Addiction Services

Whatever symptoms of addiction you may have, treatment can help.


Mayo Clinic Connect

Connect with others like you for support, practical information, and answers to your questions about mental health issues or caring for someone with mental health concerns. Ask questions and get answers.

If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, seek help. Contact your primary care provider or mental health professional. If this is an emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number. In the U.S., call, text, or chat the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline).

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