Types of Addictions & Definitions

Addictions – The inability to control the continued use of mood altering substances or behaviors despite adverse consequences.

Anorexia Athletica – This is in the category of eating disorder addictions.  It is an addiction to exercise.  People who suffer from this disorder work out well beyond the requirements for good health and often to the point that the time they spend working out interferes with their job and/or relationships.  This population is at risk for potentially fatal cardiac problems or mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or guilt for not keeping up with their rigorous routine.

Binge Eating or Compulsive Overeating – This is in the category of eating disorder addictions.  It is often associated with a behavior used to deal with negative emotions or stress.  Binge eaters consume large amounts of food  quickly until they’re uncomfortably full. Most who sufferer from compulsive eating do it in secret to hide their habits. Many feel powerless to stop eating and are disgusted with themselves afterward; but unlike with bulimia, they don’t attempt to reverse a binge by vomiting or fasting.  While not all patients are overweight, they are at risk for obesity and diabetes.

Drunkorexia – This is in the category of eating disorder addictions, and most commonly seen on college campuses and involves restricting food intake in order to reserve calories for alcohol and binge drinking.  The motivation is to avoid weight gain or to need less alcohol in order to get drunk quicker.  A University of Missouri study found that almost 30 percent of female college students exhibit drunkorexic behavior.  Drunkorexia may lead to alcohol poisoning or long-term heart and liver diseases.

Eating Disorders – A general term most frequently used to describe an insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual’s health, both mental and physical.  However, new eating disorders have evolved due to societal pressures to be thin, fit and healthy (see other types of addictions under EDNOS).

EDNOS – In the early ’90s, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) introduced a new diagnostic category: eating disorders not otherwise specified.  This is a catch-all label that includes dozens of sub-diagnoses, which applies to patients who don’t meet the exact criteria for anorexia or bulimia but still have a difficult relationship with food and/or a distorted body image.  At present the EDNOS diagnoses significantly outnumber anorexia and bulimia cases (see other types of addictions: Anorexia Athletica, Orthorexia, Drunkorexia and Pregorexia).

Epigenetics –   Epigenetics literally translates into “above the genome.”  It is the science of how our diets and lifestyles affect the expression of our genes.  You inherit your genome.  You affect your epigenetics.  (see Epigenome).

Epigenome – A network of chemical switches within our cells that are collectively known as the epigenome (see Epigenetics).

Orthorexia – This is in the category of eating disorder addictions.  It is a fixation with healthy or righteous eating.  Orthorexics often eat only organic foods or may eliminate entire food groups if they consider it not “pure” in quality.  This specific eating disorder is not motivated by body image, but rather a fear of bad health, issues with self-image or a fixation with complete control.  Severe orthorexia may lead to malnourishment.

Pregorexia – This is in the category of eating disorder addictions.  It is extreme dieting and exercising while pregnant to avoid gaining the Physician recommended 25 to 35 pounds of weight for a healthy pregnancy.  Pregorexia may have very serious health consequences for both the mother and baby.  Starving moms-to-be are at risk for depression, anemia, and hypertension, while their malnourished babies are often miscarried or born with birth defects.

Reward Deficiency Syndrome – When “feel good” chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA and endorphins are blocked from the brain’s receptors due to a defective dopamine receptor gene called the D2A1 allele.