Surprising Addictions that Affect More People than You Think

When you think of addiction, illegal drugs often come to mind. Indeed, nearly 20 million Americans (aged 12 and above) battled with substance use disorder as of 2017. Heroin, marijuana, and cocaine are among the drugs commonly abused today.

But when avoiding addiction, illegal drugs aren’t the only things you should be wary about. Booze is just as addictive, with more than 7% of the American population affected. That’s nearly 14 million adults. And as with drug addiction, adolescents aren’t spared either. American Addiction Centers found that over 3 million Americans aged 14 to 17 have an alcohol problem.

If you’re addicted to neither substance, you should be proud of yourself. It’s not easy to avoid encountering illegal drugs and alcohol with the kind of society we live in. However, addiction doesn’t only happen to people exposed to those substances.

The things we encounter without harm every day can be a trigger for someone. The following are cases of surprising but not bizarre addictions:

1. Video Game Addiction

This can count as surprising because it’s still debated whether it’s a true addiction or not. But the compulsive or uncontrolled use of video games has been confirmed to cause many problems. It can increase aggressive thoughts and behaviors, especially in children under 10. Sometimes, it can increase the risk of light-induced seizures and musculoskeletal disorders and mess up the metabolic rate. If playing games also affects one’s social life, it can reduce their interpersonal skills, too.

This doesn’t mean that people should be discouraged from playing games. It can have positive effects too, after all. But skipping important assignments or appointments for games is downright concerning. Likewise, neglecting one’s own well-being for games is no longer normal.

As with anything that triggers the brain’s reward system, video games should be used in moderation. It shouldn’t affect your relationships, career or studies, health, and mental well-being. If you think you’re close to developing video game addiction, try changing your routine or finding new hobbies. Consider therapy as well. Addressing the issue early on can minimize the problems you may otherwise encounter because of playing too many video games.

2. Prescription or OTC Drug Addiction

Legal drugs can be addictive, too. Certain over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs are commonly abused by Americans. That’s why you need to follow the recommended dosage. Going over it can alter its natural effect, making you crave more. And as with the case, if you suddenly stop taking an illegal drug, you may also experience withdrawal symptoms when you miss a dose.

The following prescription and OTC drugs should be used as instructed by a physician:

  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Sleep medicines
  • Painkillers
  • Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet
  • Amphetamines
  • Methylphenidate (ADHD drugs)
  • Cold and cough medicines

Addiction to these drugs may not cause dangerous behaviors, but they’re no less risky for your health. An excellent addiction recovery plan can help end one’s over-dependence on any prescription or OTC drug.

3. Lying

Pathological liars, the people who always lie for no apparent reason, could be dealing with “pseudologia fantastica” or “mythomania.” It’s not an official disorder but is a very real case of compulsive behavior. Pathological lying is hard to treat because some sufferers may not even realize they’re lying. They believe what they’re saying is true, even if it’s not.

Compulsive lying often starts in one’s teens. Then instead of outgrowing the habit over time, they continue it. It affects their career, relationships, and families, so it also makes them prone to infidelity or substance use disorder.

Psychotherapy is the best way to treat pathological lying. But it can pose some challenges, too, because the liar might also lie to their therapist.

4. Work Addiction

Some workaholics are simply passionate about what they do. But some are extreme, to the point that they literally can’t stop working. Workaholism is a real mental health disorder. It often stems from an obsession with success or status or a compulsive desire to escape emotional stress.

Workaholics trade sleep, meals, family time, and rest days for work. They have an intense fear of failure and can be paranoid about their performance. They also use work to cope with stressful events, like the death of a loved one, breakup, or financial problems.

Depending on the addiction’s severity, inpatient treatment may be needed to treat it. But in most cases, outpatient treatment is effective enough.

Understanding these addictions will help you break the stigma toward unconventional compulsive behaviors. You can also help its sufferers seek the treatment they need. Any kind of addiction should be addressed, no matter how bizarre or “unreal” it sounds.

Sudarsan Chakraborty
Sudarsan Chakraborty
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