What do all of the following things have in common?
- Online shopping
- Video games
They may seem wildly unrelated but they may have more in common than you think. Each of these things can be an addiction, some to the point which severely impacts your life. When you hear of addiction, you may think only of substance abuse. Drug addiction and alcoholism are the two most common forms of addiction. 21.5 million individuals ages 12 and older in the United States struggle with some form of substance abuse.
- 2.6 million abuse both drugs and alcohol
- 4.5 million abuse drugs only
- 14.4 million abuse alcohol only
Still, whether it’s drugs or alcohol, a significant portion of the population is addicted to some type of drug. Though not socially accepted, addiction and alcoholism still make up the two main facets of addiction. If you think harder, you may add gambling, sex, and food to your list. Gambling and sex addictions are common among Americans. 6.5 million Americans ages 12 and older qualify as having a gambling addiction. An estimated 12 million Americans live with some form of sex addiction. Food addiction has started to draw attention to itself as well as the obesity epidemic continues to expand. With all of these commonly-understood addictions, you may not realize how many other addictions exist. There are many, though, that you have yet to hear of. With shows like “My Strange Addiction” on TLC, some have come into the spotlight. Addiction often stems from a place of pain and hurt. Addicts seek to remedy this discomfort with their addiction of choice, no matter what the substance or object is.
What is the Definition of Addiction and What Causes Someone to Become Addicted to Something?
Addiction is a chronic disease where an individual seeks out a substance or object in a compulsive manner. These compulsive behaviors are difficult to control and often lead to harmful consequences. Regardless of the consequences, though, someone with an addiction will continue to seek out that substance or object. Addiction begins initially as a choice to use the drugs, play the first hand of cards, or have the first sexual encounter. However, after the compulsion takes over, the aspect of choice goes away . It becomes a necessary part of their lives in order to maintain their sanity and remain (in their minds) well. It is likely you either know or have met someone with an addiction. If you are directly involved in that person’s life, or if you are the addict yourself, you understand the power that addiction holds. To those who have not interacted with someone who is an addict, it is simple to say, “Oh, just stop doing it.” If you know or are an addict, you know it’s not as simple as that.
What Are Some Strange Addictions You Might Not Have Heard Of?
Again, an addiction is any action done compulsively that generally leads to a negative impact on your life. There are many different things you can find yourself addicted to, but some addictions you might not have heard of.
Online Shopping Addiction
With the rise of the Internet and the convenience it brings, the prevalence of online shopping grew. Sites like Amazon make it easy to purchase things you need around the house without ever having to leave your home. With Amazon Prime, you have the option to ship the item to your house within two days. The ease and convenience of online shopping has helped millions of Americans unable to leave the house due to illness, busyness, or any other reason. However, the ease and convenience has also led to many individuals finding themselves addicted to online shopping. The need to purchase items becomes compulsive. Sites have focused on simplifying the user experience on their site, making it easier for people to purchase. When it’s as quick as entering your card information and pressing “purchase,” how could you not find yourself lured in? Some sites even allow you to save your credit card information, making purchasing items even faster. For compulsive online shoppers, this creates an issue. Before they even realize it they’ve purchased four shirts, two pairs of jeans, and a new handbag. During checkout, they receive the option to upgrade their purchase, or a coupon if they purchase more. Online shopping can quickly become a black hole for racking up credit card debt and collecting more things you don’t have any use for.
The love and admiration you receive from a pet makes them loyal companions. Having a pet is healthy for many people. The attention and care they provide is a massive return for the work you do have to put into them. Some people find they cannot stop gathering pets, though. Whether they find them as strays, adopt from the shelter, or save one from a family friend, they have dozens of pets without realizing it. The “high” of saving a pet from being put to sleep can become an addiction. The people with a pet addiction cannot imagine ever giving up any of their pets because they attempt to love them each equally. However, as you’ve likely seen on shows such as Hoarders, pet addiction can quickly get out of hand. One person cannot give enough attention to 9 dogs, 16 cats, and 4 birds. There simply is not enough to give. Having too many pets creates a dangerous environment for the animal and does the opposite of what the individual attempts to do. Too many pets can also be unhealthy for the owner. When there are dozens of pets around the house oftentimes owners are unable to take each pet out to go to the bathroom. As a result, the animals often relieve themselves in the house. It can quickly become too much for one person to manage and they simply let it sit there. The harmful substances in animal waste can create a dangerous environment for not only the human in the home but for the animals as well.
The popularity of tanning has exploded over recent years, especially with the use of tanning beds in particular. Laying out on the beach on a towel has been a hobby of millions for decades but tanning beds simplified the process. Just hop in the bed for a few minutes then emerge golden and glowing. Although it is well known that tanning for extended periods of time is dangerous, occasional brief stints are not going to do you in. Some individuals become addicted to staying tan, though, and spend hundreds of dollars and hours on tanning. They lay in beds for extended periods of time, too many times per month. Overexposure to UV rays knowingly leads to cancer yet they continue to tan. They find themselves hooked on the golden glow of their skin after a tanning session and continue to come back for more.
While not a strange activity in and of itself, television can absolutely be a strange addiction. Americans watch an average of five hours and four minutes of television every single day. That alone seems like a massive amount of time. Could you consider the average American addicted to television? It seems inevitable. You come home at the end of a long day of work and relax in front of the television for a few hours. However, it quickly turns into hour after hour as the shows continue to play. Especially with the advent of DVR and Netflix, you no longer have to watch commercials. You can quickly binge on a few episodes of your favorite show without realizing how much time has passed. Perhaps the strangest thing about television addiction is how many people are addicted to it. If the average American watches over five hours a day, this seems like compulsive behavior. Television may not cause as drastic an impact on your life as drugs and alcohol, but it is sucking away your time. You have a limited amount of hours every day. The more hours you spend watching television, the more time you’re taking away from other activities you love. Is watching five hours of television per day really worth it?
Maybe you didn’t realize you could be addicted to love, but researchers started looking into the root of the pull of romantic relationships. Love addiction may be somewhat in the same vein as sex addiction, but the difference is in the subject of the addiction. Sex addicts are hooked on the physical aspect of the relationship while love addicts are addicted to the romantic aspect. Some people receive a “high” when they begin a new relationship and a “crash” once the relationship ends. They continue to seek the spark of new attraction and find themselves addicted to it. Do you have experience with any of these addictions? Researchers have yet to gather hard data on the prevalence of these addictions but they may be more common than we think. Just because you aren’t addicted to alcohol or drugs doesn’t mean the addiction won’t have an impact on your life. It may keep you from spending time with family or friends, away from that dream project you have, or missing out on opportunities that will never come again. It may not seem like much at the moment, but is the addiction worth missing those life experiences?
“Mental and Substance Use Disorders” SAMHSA https://www.samhsa.gov/disorders “Gambling Addiction Statistics” LoveToKnow https://addiction.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Gambling_Addiction_Statistics “How Much Do We Love TV? Let Us Count the Ways” The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/business/media/nielsen-survey-media-viewing.html?_r=0