You may not be addicted to narcotic substances or alcohol–in fact, you may say that you pretty much have a good, clean life.
But is it true?
We’ve come out with 10 addictions you may not realize you have. Read along to find out if you might be hooked to one (or more) of them:
- Gambling. Gambling can really become an addiction, but not many will own up to it. Whether you are going to casinos or spending your bucks online, the excitement and the promise of hitting the big pot can give you a rush as if you are using drugs. However, this can lead to many problems, primarily financial and even legal.
- Coffee. Caffeine is a substance. It was even used in the earlier times as a focus-boosting drug by monks who wanted to be alert for the long and late hours of meditation. People, calling themselves coffee addicts, can actually go on withdrawal if they miss a dose of their daily caffeine fix. Although it is not an official disorder, people can abuse it especially in the form of energy drinks, and there are a few reports on deaths due to caffeine overdose.
- Exercise. Exercise is good. However, just like anything that is too much, exercise can be bad too. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which make you feel good after a work out. However, done too much and too often, it can get you injured. It can also affect your social and work life if you miss appointments or work just because you’re in the gym too much.
- Plastic Surgery. You may not hit the gym a lot but you know you can go to “the clinic” when you see something on your face or body that you don’t like–such as those wrinkles and stretchmarks. However, as what the TV program Botched would show you, there are people who can get things too far. These people struggle with what experts call “body dysmorphic disorder” and become obsessed with getting rid of what they feel are ‘defects’ in their body.
- Tanning. Some people like the beach, while some just like to get tan. But if you overdo it, you may just have a tanning addiction. Some would even frequent indoor and outdoor tanning salons just to give them the color that they want. However, things can turn to an absurd color of orange for people who have this obsessive-compulsive or body dysmorphic disorder. This addiction is triggered by the UV rays that release endorphins in the brain but later on cause sunburns, blisters, and skin cancer.
- Sex. You may have heard of celebrity scandals and separations because their partners or spouses have sex addictions. It is not just a PR stunt, it really is a real thing. People can become addicted to sex or pornography, and it is called hypersexual disorder. The rush of chemicals to the brain caused by the act or the sight of sex can be similar to taking drugs or going gambling.
- Smartphones. You can be addicted to smartphones if you spend every other few minutes looking at your phone, to the point that you cannot function normally or be productive. You ignore your family or friends over dinner because you’re constantly on your phone, whether playing an app, texting, or going over your email. Many researchers are still studying whether everybody’s favorite device is making us junkies.
- Social Media. Almost everyone these days have a social media account and people visit their accounts from time to time to update it or see what other people are up to. However, recent studies show that 10% of people are hooked on social media. In fact, the random pace of posts affects the brain’s reward system the same way as cocaine does. Sharing details about your life, as well as getting Likes or Retweets, can give you a rush that leaves you wanting to post more to get the same feelings.
- Shopping. If you have watched or read Confessions of a Shopaholic, then you know that there are people who reallyan’t help themselves. Buying something you want but don’t really need can release dopamine just like a whiff of meth–it just releases the feel-good chemical in your brain. Shopping addiction can also mean impulse control problems, whether you are in a physical store or shopping online, and this can lead to financial and legal problems.
- Sweets. Media shows women–and even men–gobbling up a gallon of ice cream when they’re down. Sometimes, sweets such as chocolates and candies just make us feel better. Believe it or not–they also contain chemicals that can affect the brain the same way as drugs. Left unchecked, your sweet tooth can lead to numerous health and weight problems.
Anything that changes your mood and makes you feel good can become addictive. It is not just substances that are addictions, but behavior as well. Things have the power to alter our brain’s reward system, just as people with chronic pain become addicted to their pain pills in the long run when it all just started as an honest-to-goodness prescription. This is because you (actually your brain) perceives this good feeling as a reward and then urges you to keep repeating it until it becomes a compulsion, an addiction.
So what may start out as something harmful, if left unchecked, can become counter-productive and even self-destructive. Still, many experts are still on the fence whether these behavioral addictions are as same as being hooked on substances such as cocaine and heroin.
Nevertheless, if you feel like you have a habit that you can’t control and seems to be destructive to you or your family, talk to us. We’re here to help.