Addiction is a multifaceted phenomenon that encompasses both substance addictions (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes) and behavioral addictions (online and gaming). Understanding the interrelationships between these different forms of addiction is critical to developing effective prevention and treatment strategies. Overcoming substance addictions will greatly reduce the risk of online and gaming addictions and leave the enjoyment of moderate gaming.

Common underlying mechanisms:

Neurobiological pathways:

Dopamine reward system. Both substance use and behavioral addictions involve the brain’s dopamine reward system. Activities such as alcohol consumption, drug use, smoking, online time, and gaming trigger the release of dopamine, creating a feeling of pleasure that can lead to addictive behavior.

Genetic predisposition. Genetic factors can predispose individuals to both substance and behavioral addictions. Variations in genes related to neurotransmitter systems, such as those affecting dopamine and serotonin, can increase susceptibility to multiple forms of addiction.

Psychological factors:

Coping Mechanisms. Individuals often turn to substances or addictive behaviors as coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, depression, or trauma. The temporary relief provided by these activities can reinforce their use and lead to addictions of a different nature. Impulsivity and obsessiveness. High levels of impulsivity and compulsivity are common traits in individuals with addictions. These traits can drive the pursuit of immediate rewards, whether through substance use or gaming.

Influence of environment:

Peer pressure and social networks. Social environments that normalize or stimulate substance use can also encourage online or gaming addiction. Peer pressure and social acceptance play a significant role in initiating and maintaining these behaviors.

Concomitant factors:

Mental health disorders:

Dual diagnosis. Many people with substance use disorders also suffer from behavioral addictions, and vice versa. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are common in people with multiple addictions, complicating treatment and recovery.

Self-healing hypothesis. People with untreated mental disorders may use substances or engage in addictive behaviors to self-medicate, leading to a cycle of addiction and deteriorating mental health.

Socio-economic status:

Economic stress. Financial difficulties can drive people to use substances and games as escape mechanisms or perceived solutions to their problems. Economic stress is both a cause and effect of addiction.

Education and employment: Lower levels of education and unstable employment are associated with higher rates of addiction. Conversely, addiction can lead to job loss and educational failure, perpetuating a cycle of socioeconomic disadvantage.


Alcohol use, for example, can lower inhibitions and impair judgment, increasing the likelihood of risky gambling behavior.

Stimulant use can temporarily and falsely improve focus and prolong gaming sessions, creating a symbiotic relationship between drug use and gaming addiction. The temporary cognitive enhancement provided by stimulants can lead to increased online engagement, which further reinforces addictive behavior.

The ritual combination of smoking and online gaming may become a coping mechanism for work-related stress, leading to increased dependence on both activities.

Smoking and online gaming can be intertwined through associative learning, where the act of smoking becomes a stimulus for gaming and vice versa. This interdependence highlights the role of environmental cues and routine behavior in maintaining addiction.


The interrelationships between substance use and behavioral addictions are complex and multifaceted, involving neurobiological, psychological, and environmental factors. Addressing these interrelated forms of addiction requires holistic approaches that take into account common underlying mechanisms and co-factors. Effective prevention and treatment strategies must include mental health support, socioeconomic stability, and tailored interventions to break the cycle of addiction and promote recovery. By understanding and addressing these interrelationships, we can better support people struggling with multiple forms of addiction.