Chapter 5: Other Drugs and Addictions

By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Identify and summarize the addiction process and the characteristics thereof. (LO3)
  • Explain the effects of addiction on individual, family, and community. (LO4)


This chapter will cover a few other addictive drugs, including inhalants, sports drugs, and other miscellaneous drugs; this chapter will also cover some other types of addictions like compulsive behaviors: gambling, shopping, hoarding, eating, sex, and internet-based addictions.

Other Drugs


Inhalants include a wide range of substances and side effects and are inhaled through the nose or mouth. These substances include gasoline, lacquers, spray paints, glues, aerosols, paints, and cleaning fluids. In addition to the high, intoxicating feeling, users may also experience confusion, disorientation, nausea, fatigue, and other negative side effects (Queensland Government, 2018; Verma, 2011). These substances are easy to obtain and conceal, which promotes their use and addiction. This type of substance abuse occurs worldwide, no socioeconomic class or development status left unaffected (Verma, 2011).

Sports Drugs

Sports drugs, also called performance or appearance enhancing drugs are those are consumed to promote peak performance in sports but also increase cognitive and sexual performance (Zaami, 2021). Performance enhancing drugs are generally banned for ethical, health, and legal reasons (Queensland Government, 2021). Yet, this does not stop athletes from using them. Drugs like these are used to boost performance in that never-ending quest for greatness and winning. Commonly used drugs in this category include but are not limited to steroids, diuretics, and stimulants (Zaami, 2021). For more detailed information regarding performance enhancing drugs and how they work, review this journal article: Effects of Appearance – and Performance-Enhancing Drugs (2021). This article lists the following side effects that users of these drugs typically experience:

  • Perceived power over others
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Better concentration
  • Depression
  • Anxiety (up to and including psychosis)
  • Aggression
  • Brain chemistry permanently altered
  • Personality changes
  • Abuse
  • Dependence
  • Body Image Disturbance

Review the video below to learn how drugs affect an athlete and how it is a widespread concern. Additional videos are provided if you would like to learn more.


Miscellaneous Drugs

In attempts to become high or even improve health, alternative and miscellaneous drugs have been used around the world. Some of these miscellaneous drugs include: camel dung, embalming fluid, gasoline, kava, kratom, aerosol products, strychnine, and toad secretions (Inaba, 2011). Kava is highlighted below, but other drugs have been used in a similar manner.

Kava is a plant native to South Pacific areas. It has long been used, much like the other plant-based drugs discussed, for centuries in social events, medical treatments, and cultural situations. Typically the (Merriam, 2022; Bian, 2020) is mixed with water or coconut milk to produce its desired effects. It is a popular option to relieve anxiety and insomnia (Rowe, 2011; Biam, 2020). Generally, kava is well-tolerated, but it can be toxic in large doses. Kava users may experience skin reactions all over the body, headaches, tremors and twitches, seizures, and the typically upper-like feelings (Rowe, 2011; Bian, 2020). Learn more about Kava from this study out of New Zealand: New Study on Kava Drink-Drinking Shows Impact on Brain Function (2021).


Other Addictions

Compulsive behaviors are fueled by the desire to avoid negative feelings. These behaviors are often habitual in nature and will even continue if there are negative outcomes (Choose Help, 2022)

Compulsive Gambling

There are two types of gambling addiction. The first is the problem gambler, which causes their family harm, but the person still generally has control of their behavior. (Lee, 2022). The other group is actually defined by the American Psychological Association (2022) as a impulse control disorder, called pathological gamblers. This person continues to gamble despite the negative consequence they’ve experiences. Typically, gambling is a progressive issue with no intervention. Research suggests that this disorder is related to dysfunction in the cognitive areas of the brain, where impulse behavior is controlled (Ioannidis, 2019; Choliz, 2021). Long-term, negative outcomes associated with pathological gambling include: reduced quality of life, increase risk of divorce (where applicable) (Holdsworth, 2013), bankruptcy/debt, and even prison (Ioanndis, 2019). Some researchers have gone so far to say that gambling, while legal, is a public health concern (Choliz, 2021).

In recent years, online or internet gambling (can also be called remote) has grown significantly. It is easily accessibly, immersive, and makes payment very simple. Internet gambling can be accessed on any device with internet availability, in nearly any location (Gainsbury, 2015). Feedback and interaction is immediate and engaging in this online world, increasing its popularity, but with it the risk of account safety and security, in addition to the other risks associated with gambling.

This disorder is consider addictive because it involves the same reward circuits as substance, to the point that the user must repeat the behavior. Moreover, it is conducted in environments that reinforce the behavior and the eventual addiction (Choliz, 2021).


Compulsive Buying and Shopping

Compulsive buying is also known as compulsive shopping and is considered a form of an impulse control disorder. As with most addictions, the act of buying or shopping may create positive feelings for the user at first, but overtime, there will be remorse, guilt, and other repercussions like debt, impaired social relationships, and even hoarding (Lee, 2022; Muller, 2021). Typically a disorder among women, this strong buying urge becomes apparent when a person is roughly twenty years old. Those that have this disorder may have comorbidities like substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and other compulsions (Lee, 2022).

Much like gambling, online shopping or buying seems to be a growing trend and may be its own sub-type of compulsive disorder (Muller, 2021). Online shopping shares many of the same components that compulsive, in-person shopping demonstrates, with more emphasis on ease of completing the transaction.



Hoarding is a compulsion that involves the gathering of items (generally trivial), storing them without clear organization. Usually collected into piles, the piles lead to a cluttered home to the point of distress or impaired functioning. The individual often feels extreme anxiety if asked to remove these items from living space (APA, 2022; Choose Help, 2022). Individuals save the items to avoid negative feelings (Vilaverde, 2017). This disorder is often present with other disorders like anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (Novara, 2016). Some research suggests that occupational therapy could resolve some of the challenges of hoarding. Read more from a 2019 study: Can Occupational Therapy Address the Occupational Implications of Hoarding?


Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are often very complex situations that all have these common components: food and weight issues. Sometimes these issues are caused by other factors including genetics, environment, peer pressure, emotional health (NAMI, 2022). Furthermore, there are conditions that make an individual pre-disposed for developing an eating disorder. Statistically, it is more likely that someone will have an eating disorder if a young female (roughly late teens to early 20s) (Harrison, 2022; NAMI, 2022; Qian, 2022). Individuals are also more likely to have a disorder if they have family history. Dieting, stress, and specific vocations/activities can also perpetuate the pre-disposition for an eating disorder. Regardless of the condition, these disorders impact psychological, physical, and social well-being of the individual (Harrison, 2022).

  • Anorexia Nervosa. This disorder is often characterized by maintaining body weight through starvation or excessive exercise. Generally, individually with this disorder have a distorted body image called (APA, 2022; Lumen; NAMI, 2022).
  • Binge Eating Disorder. This is a disorder characterized by extreme eating habits () and then distress because of the binge (Lumen; NAMI, 2022).
  • Bulimia Nervosa. This disorder includes the binge eating from the previous disorder followed by (Lumen; NAMI, 2022)

Resource: National Eating Disorders Hotline Contact Information

Sex Addiction

Sexual Addiction is defined as persistent impaired functioning, where the individual is unable to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses. It becomes the focus of the individual’s life, eventually resulting in neglect of other important activities like health, hobbies, and responsibilities (Antons & Brand, 2021). (Note: are not included in this definition (APA, 2022)). Sex addiction involves pornography, masturbation, and risky sexual acquaintances in order to fulfill needs (Efrati, 2021; Edelweiss, 2021). And again, like some of the other disorders discussed in this chapter, online sexual opportunities (cyber sex) have grown in recent years (Blinka, 2022).


Internet-based Addictions

Finally, the last addiction to discuss in this chapter. There are different sub-types within this category including internet addiction, cyber sexual addiction, cyber-relationship addiction, information addiction, and computer games addiction and other related compulsions. Internet addiction is a pattern of excessive or obsessive online behavior that can lead to distress or impairment. The condition has grown in recent years due to the increase of social media and other forms of popular internet usage. There are some sub-types identified, but more research will need to be completed to determine true sub-types within this addictive disorder (APA, 2022). The COVID-19 pandemic seems to exacerbated the growing electronic addiction, at least in the United States with those who are urban, educated, employed, married, and 18-35 suffering the worst consequences (Khubchandani, 2021). Other research suggests that internet addiction is a growing public health concern in many Asian countries, the prevalence jumping five times more than it was prior to the pandemic (Dong, 2020). Those affected by this addiction often have other disorders like alcoholism, sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety (Moreno, 2022; Bai, 2022; Dresp-Langely & Hutt, 2022; Zhang, 2022). Read more about Digital Addiction and Sleep.

Strategies to combat this addiction include (Khubchandani, 2021):

  • Set boundaries and adhere to them.
  • Spend more time outside and/or with family
  • Establish a healthy routine
  • Regulate technology use
  • Schedule technology breaks
  • Find balance and practice mindfulness



Addiction Treatment Resources (2020, August 25). What are inhalants? [Video]. YouTube.

American Psychological Association (2022). Hoarding. APA Dictionary of Psychology.

Antons, S. & Brand, M. (2021). Diagnostic and classification considerations related to compulsive sexual behavior disorder and problematic pornography use. Current Addiction Reports, 8, 452-457.

Bai, W., Cai, H., Wu, S., Zhang, L., Feng, K., Li, Y., Liu, H., Du, X., Zeng, Z., Lu, C., Mi, W., Zhang, L., Ding, Y., Yang, J., Jackson, T., Cheung, T., An, F., & Xiang, Y. (2022). Internet addiction and its association with quality of life in patients with major depressive disorder: A network perspective. Translational psychology, 12(138).

Bahji, A. (2022, May 19). Why are eating disorders so hard to treat? [Video]. YouTube.

Bian, T., Corral, P., Wang, Y., Botello, J., Kingston, R., Daniels, T., Salloum, R., Johnston, E., Huo, Z., Lu, J., Liu, A., & Xing, C. (2020). Kava as clinical nutrient: Promises and challenges. Nutrients.

Blinka, L., Sevcikova, A., Dreier, M., Skarupova, K., & Wolfling, K. (2022). Online sex addiction: A qualitative analysis of symptoms in treatment-seeking men. Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Brand, R., Heck, P., & Ziegler, M. (2014). Illegal performance enhancing drugs and doping in sport: A picture-based brief implicit association test for measuring athletes’ attitudes. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 9(7).

Choliz, M., Marcos, M. & Bueno, F. (2021). Ludens: A gambling addiction prevention problem based on the principles of ethical gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies.

Clarke, C. (2019). Can occupational therapy address the occupational implications of hoarding? Occupational Therapy International.

CNN (2013, July 23). CNN explains: Performance enhancing drugs [Video]. YouTube.

Dong, H., Yang, F., Lu, X. & Hao, W. (2020). Internet addiction and related psychological factors among children and adolescents in China during the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00751

Dresp-Langley, B. & Hutt, A. (2022). Digital Addiction and Sleep. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(11)

Economist, The. (2019, October 25). Doping in sport: Why it can’t be stopped [Video]. YouTube.

Edelweiss Publications (2022). Sex Addiction. Edelweiss: Psychiatry Open Access.

Efrati, Y., Kraus, S., & Kaplan, G. (2021). Common feature in compulsive sexual behavior, substance abuse disorders, personality, treatment, and attachment – a narrative review. Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(1).

Gainsbury, S. (2015). Online gambling addiction: The relationship between internet gambling and disordered gambling. Current Addiction Reports, 2, 185-193.

Hall, P. (2016, March 29). We need to talk about sex addiction [Video]. YouTube.

Harrison, A., Francesconi, M., & Flouri, E. (2022). Types of eating disorder prodrome in adolescence: The role of decision making in childhood. Frontiers in Psychology.

Holdsworth, L., Nuske, E., Tiyce, M., & Hing, N. (2013). Impacts of gambling problems on partners: partners’ interpretations. Asian Journal of Gambling Issues and Public Health, 3(11).

Inaba, D. (2011). Uppers, downers, all arounders: Physical and mental effects of psychoactive drugs. CNS Productions.

International OCD Foundation. (2018, November 30). Why people with hoarding disorder hang on to objects [Video]. YouTube.

Ioannidis, K., Hook, R., Wickham, K., Grant, J., & Chamberlain, S. (2019). Impulsivity in gambling disorder and problem gambling: A meta-analysis, 44, 1354-1361.

Khubchandani, J., Sharma, S., & Price, J. (2021). COVID-19 pandemic and the burden of internet addiction in the United States. Psychiatry International, 2(4).

learn about psychology (2021, August 8). Why a sports person takes drug [Video]. YouTube.

Lee, J. (2022). Compulsive buying disorder. Choose Help.

Lee, J. (2022). Compulsive hoarding. Choose Help.

Lee, J. (2022). Gambling addiction. Choose Help.

Lee, J. (2022). Understanding addiction – the roles of impulsivity and compulsivity. Choose Help.

Lumen Learning (n.d.). Drugs. Lumen Learning. Retrieved on July 19, 2022 from

Lumen Learning (n.d.). Eating Disorders. Lumen Learning. Retrieved on July 19, 2022 from

Merriam-Webster (n.d.) Rhizome. In Merriam Webster Dictionary. Retrieved July 19, 2022 from

Moreno, M., Riddle, K., Jenkins, M., Singh, A., Zhao, Q., Eickhoff, J. (2022). Measuring problematic internet use, internet gaming disorder, and social media addiction in young adults: Cross-sectional survey study. JMIR Publications, 8(1). doi: 10.2196/27719

Muller,A., Laskowski, N., Wegmann, E., Steins-Loeber, S., & Brand, M. (2021). Problematic online buying-shopping: Is it time to considering the concept of an online subtype of compulsive buying-shopping disorder or a specific internet-use disorder? Current Addiction Reports, 8, 494-499.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (2022). Eating disorders. NAMI-Michigan.

National Eating Disorders (2022). Contact the helpline. NEDA.

Novara, C., Bottesi, G., Dorz, S., & Sanavio, E. (2016). Hoarding symptoms are not exclusive to hoarders. Frontiers in Psychology.

Qian, J., Wu, Y., Liu, F., Zhu, Y., Jin, H., Zhang, H., Wan, Y., Li, C., & Yu, D. (2022). An update on the prevalence of eating disorders in the general population: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia, and Obesity, 27, 415-428.

Queensland Government (2018). Drug types and their effects. Drug Information.

Queensland Government (2021). Drugs and sport. Support and development for clubs.

Rowe, A., Zhang, L., & Ramzan, I. (2011). Toxicokinetics of kava. Advances in Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Schuett, L. (2019). Think twice before buying [Video]. YouTube.

SciShow. (2013, December 8). Performance enhancing drugs [Video]. YouTube.

Top 10 Clipz (2017, June 12). Top 10 athletes with drug addiction [Video]. YouTube.

University of Waikato (2021, September 21). New study on kava drink-driving shows impact on brain function.

Verma, R., Balhara, Y., & Deshpande, S. (2011). Workplace inhalant abuse in adult female: Brief report. Case Reports in Psychiatry.

Vilaverde, D., Goncalves, J., & Morgado, P. (2017). Hoarding disorder: A case report. Frontiers in Psychology.

Your Body On (2021, November 3). No internet for one week [Video]. YouTube.

Zaami, S., Minutillo, A., Sirignano, A., Marinelli, E. (2021). Effects of appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs on personality traits. Frontiers in Psychology.

Zhang, C., Hao, J., Liu, Y., Cui, J., & Yu, H. (2022). Associations between online learning, smartphone addiction problems, and psychological symptoms in Chinese college students after the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Public Health, 10. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.881074


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Psychology of Addiction by Andrea Bearman and Adelle Schwan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book