When you hear the word “addiction,” what comes to mind? For most people, they immediately think about hard drugs and alcohol. But the definition of addiction is more broad than you might expect.
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A Closer Look at Addiction
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “addicted” as “exhibiting a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity.”
A user on a popular online forum asked others to name addictions that people often overlook. From shopping to skin picking, people flooded the comments with their ideas of addictions society tends to brush under the rug.
While many people don’t think twice about drinking a soda every day, they may not realize that over half of Americans drink at least one soda daily. It’s no secret that soda is terrible for your body. Research links soda consumption to heart disease, diabetes, and other severe health conditions. But people keep picking up sweet, fizzy beverages because of the dopamine rush they get from the sugar.
Not only can shopping too often empty your bank account, but it can also become a habit that’s hard to quit. When shopping becomes a self-soothing activity, it can often spiral into an addiction where someone buys many things they don’t need when they desperately need to save money.
People with shopping addictions often go into serious debt, but for some reason, it’s not an addiction we take seriously in our society. “I told my therapist I think I have a shopping addiction, and she told me it’s a common addiction that goes unnoticed way too many times,” writes one user.
In a world where most people need to work to survive, it’s easy for people to brush off an unhealthy addiction to overworking as an admirable approach to hustling. But overworking can ruin your life. Not only does it sap your energy to spend too much time at work, but it also cuts into much-needed family time and community engagement.
If you go on social media or turn on the TV, chances are you’ll see some form of terrible news about the world. While staying up to date on what is happening across the globe is vital, it’s also essential to balance the news with other media.
“People get addicted to the cortisol hit from getting outraged, so a lot of news outlets realize they just need to keep the cortisol flowing,” claims one respondent. That leaves people stuck in a cycle of anger that keeps them returning for more disasters.
5. Social Media
Our society is so addicted to social media that the vast majority of us are in denial about it. When I wake up, I open my phone without thinking and begin scrolling on Instagram. It’s at the point where I don’t particularly want to go on social media, but something compels me to log in, and I can’t stop.
This is a common experience among young people in the U.S., and we have yet to understand the full impacts of social media on our brains.
One of the most common addictions in the U.S. is one that everyone brushes under the rug as a necessity. Do you need a cup of coffee in the morning before you can function? Do you find yourself going to Starbucks repeatedly as your bank account balance dwindles? You may have never considered it before but could be addicted to caffeine.
“When I went to boot camp, I was worried about being unable to get my nicotine fix,” says one respondent. “I never even thought about caffeine. After the first day, I suffered overwhelming headaches, which turned out to be physical withdrawal from caffeine.”
7. Video Games
We’ve all heard the stereotype of an adult who lives in their parent’s basement and plays video games, but we often brush this off as a popular media trope. But the thing is, some people are genuinely addicted to playing video games.
“I always laughed at the idea of video game addiction until I met a guy who defined it for me,” states one contributor. “We used to chat and hang out weekly. He quit his job and lives at home with his mom, mooching off her to sit in his room and play games for close to 16 hours a day. After refusing to hang out for long enough, I just gave up on him.”
8. Skin Picking
Did you know that some people compulsively pick at the skin around their nails, their scabs, or simply any perceived imperfections on their skin? There’s a disorder related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) called Dermatillomania, which refers to a patient’s inability to stop picking at their skin.
As someone who personally suffers from this condition, I can tell you that skin picking is absolutely an addiction. I found quitting nicotine much easier than stopping skin picking because every time I walk into the bathroom, I see myself in the mirror and notice places I want to pick. The habit destroys my self-esteem and causes scarring and potential infections.
9. Self Harm
When many people think of self-harm, they think of depression. But you may not know that the reasons someone chooses to self-harm are complex, and often, the sensation of hurting oneself can become addictive. One commenter who used to self-harm in the past explains, “I still get withdrawals, and if something scratches my arms in the right way, I need to take a minute to gather myself.”
While many people cite studies that suggest cannabis consumption is not a chemically addictive substance, that doesn’t mean you can’t form a mental addiction to weed. One commenter says they used to use cannabis all day, every day, before deciding to quit. “Quitting was difficult for me. I felt like I wasn’t functioning without it and went through several weeks of depression. It was also hard for me to interact with people while sober.”
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