We’ve all heard stories of people who are addicted to eating sofa cushions or bathing in bleach. These are far from the norm; it turns out that there’s plenty of no less strange addictions that are far more common. So common, in fact, that the chances are good that you know people that have an actual physical, mental or emotional dependence on these things.
See Also: 10 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Addiction
10 Skin Picking
Everyone does it, but some do it to the extreme. Those who become addicted to skin picking can cause permanent damage to their tissues and nerve endings. Repeated digging, picking, or rubbing certain parts of the body is called Excoriation Disorder, and often stems from a belief the individual is trying to remove something they see as a blemish. In extreme cases, it can create social or occupational difficulties for the person when they develop open sores and even scars.
9 Tanning Addition
Frequent tanners have been shown to display signs of addiction to their weekly and twice weekly trips to the tanning salon – and it’s for more reason than the social belief that someone’s who is tan is more attractive. Tanning beds give off UV rays, which increase feelings of happiness and contentment. While prolonged exposure to UV rays is the same thing that has been linked to an increased chance of skin cancer, it’s also what keeps us happy in the summer and depressed in the winter. Those who make a habit of tanning can very quickly become addicted to the endorphin-producing activity.
8 Diet Addiction
Following recommended dieting routines can be setting you up for addiction. A healthy diet is one that results in gradual weight loss over time, necessitating a prolonged practice that makes dieting a habit. While a healthy lifestyle isn’t a bad thing, it can be if the diet is less than reputable. Dieting can also trigger a chemical change in the body, promoting a desire to keep that sensation going longer than necessary, leading to an unhealthy amount of weight loss. Social pressure to be thin and look a certain way can also add to the addiction.
7 Diet Soda Addiction
Diet, sugar-free soda can look like a safe way to get a caffeine fix at first glance, but that’s exactly why it’s likely to become addicting. For those whose preferred method of caffeine intake is diet soda, it can be easy to tell themselves that they’re not consuming any of the calories in regular soda or a double-espresso-caramel-frappuchino with whipped cream. It’s that sense of the “all right” that feeds the craving. Diet soda is also often used in place of an addiction the person is trying to quit, such as smoking. The addictive behaviors are simply transferred onto the new substance, leading to people drinking gallons of the stuff every day: all guilt-free.
With vampires all the rage, it’s not really surprising that some people might delve into this aspect of the vampiric nature. But some take it to the level of addiction. Some people might prefer to mix some human blood (from a few trusted donors) in with their evening meal or as a mixer to their favorite alcoholic beverage, but some have taken the addiction to the extreme. A man in Turkey was arrested after attacking strangers when his own blood wasn’t enough to satisfy his thirst.
Eating dirt and other earthy materials such as rocks and chalk is so common that it has its own name – geophagia. Classified under the broader term of pica, or eating items with no nutritional value, geophagia can begin with a variety of causes. In some cultures, it’s thought that eating light-colored dirt will cause the skin to lighten and become more attractive. In other cases, it has been associated with iron deficiency and is thought to be a compulsion to restore vital minerals to the body. This addiction has even been mentioned in ancient Greek texts.
Video games have been blamed for a lot of things, but in some countries gaming addictions are taken so seriously there are recovery programs designed specifically for it. Classified as an obsessive-compulsive activity, addiction happens when virtual life becomes more entertaining and fulfilling than real life. For shy, unpopular or bullied children, it’s not hard to understand why a fantasy world, where they are only known by the appearance and strength of their character, can become more rewarding than a life where they’re known by their shortcomings. Gaming addicts will often put aside real world commitments to spend time in their game, damaging personal and occupational relationships and continuing the downward spiral.
Sex addiction doesn’t have to mean being addiction to just the act. It can also mean being preoccupied with sexual thoughts, or obsessions with other behaviors, such as watching pornography. When a person become so obsessed that it damages their personal relationships and doesn’t allow them to function on a daily basis without being plagued by these constant thoughts, they may consider a recovery program. Similar to the program followed by alcoholics, sex addicts can enter into a twelve step program that helps them turn away from their preoccupations.
2 Thumb Sucking
Thumb sucking in babies is quite common, but what happens when the behavior continues into adulthood? Occasionally a habit that some fall back on when anxious or irritated, thumb sucking for some can be just as comforting in adulthood as it was in childhood. Some say that sucking their thumb gives them a feeling of calm, but for others, the addiction can mean something very different. It’s also a gesture tied to oral sex, and it was so anti-social that even Shakespeare took a well-known crack at it.
Food additions might seem a little questionable, but it’s been found that certain chemicals in certain foods – such as the sugars in candy and chocolate – can make the pleasure centers of the brain tingle just as much as nicotine or alcohol can. Not simply a matter of eating too much, food addiction usually revolves around certain types of food and the changes that it triggers in the mind and body. Someone who is otherwise healthy can struggle with a food addiction to, say, chocolate. The behavior turns into an addiction when they cannot control how much they eat, when thoughts of the food distract them from other tasks, or they suffer from anxiety or depression after eating, or when deprived of that food.