Five Uncommon Addictions

When we think of the word “addiction,” most of our minds immediately turn towards the most “obvious” addictions: alcohol, smoking, and drugs. These addictions may be very common addictions, with very drastic consequences. But they are not the only addictions that people struggle with.

There are many other forms of addiction. These other, not as discussed addictions are still very common, and very real, with very real consequences.

Here are five of the not so talked about addictions:

1) Gambling

Although gambling isn’t as highly discussed as addictions to drugs or alcohol, it is still a fairly common form of addiction. It is reported that 2 to 5% of Americans are compulsive gamblers. A gambling addiction is also referred to as compulsive gambling, problem gambling, clinical pathological gambling, or ludomania.

It is when someone has problems controlling their impulses to gamble no matter what the consequences. Compulsive gambling is considered to be more of an “impulse control disorder” than an actual addiction. That said, it does have similar tendencies and consequences as other addictions.

Suicide rates are high with compulsive gamblers. The National Council on Problem Gambling has said that approximately one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide. They have also said that “suicide rates among pathological gamblers are higher than any other addictive disorder.”

2) Food

Another common, but not very commonly discussed addiction, is an addiction to food. When someone has an addiction to food, they are considered an “overeater,” or a “food addict.” A food addiction is the most similar to a substance addiction.

According to WebMD, “…for some people, the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin are also activated by food.” They go on to say that, “Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine. … The reward signals from highly palatable foods may override other signals of fullness and satisfaction. As a result, people keep eating, even when they’re not hungry.”

So, people with food addictions have very similar feelings and responses as those with substance addictions. They feel a similar desire, as well as a similar high from their addictive element. Because food addictions are so similar to substance addictions, their treatment plans are also very similar.

There are several different support groups geared towards helping those with addictions to food, many of them based on a similar 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

3) Video Games

There are many people who are addicted to video games. Like other addictions, these people are drawn to the substance or behavior (in this case video games), despite the repercussions.

Video Games

While many addictions are considered primarily physically-based, video game addictions are considered a psychological addiction. It has been found that the most addictive type of video games are games in which players create a separate identity within the game, and are allowed to live their gaming life & interact with others as that character.

Unlike many other addictions, which affect both men and women alike, video game addictions have been found to affect primarily men. Stanford University’s School of Medicine conducted a study in which they found that when playing video games, the portion of the brain that generates feelings of reward is more stimulated in men than in women.

4) Internet

Addictions to the Internet are a more recent type of growing addiction. Basically, it is considered to be an addiction to the Internet when one’s Internet usage begins to interfere with their daily life.

An addiction to the Internet has begun to be referred to as “Internet Addiction Disorder,” or IAD, although it is still disputed whether this can actually be considered an actual disorder. Either way, it is definitely growing. It has been reported that Internet addictions affect around 10% of people who spend time online.

Addictions to pornography, blogging, online social networking, and Internet shopping all fall under the category of Internet addictions. It has been proposed that addictions to the Internet are similar to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in nature.

Like those suffering from OCD have uncontrollable urges to do things like checking locks, washing their hands, etc, people with addictions to the Internet experience sometimes uncontrollable urges to check their email, update their social media profiles, etc.

5) Shopping

Shopping addictions also affect a lot of people. Compulsive shopping, or “Oniomania,” is when someone has an obsessive desire to shop. Like addictions to gaming and the Internet, this is another addiction that has found a hard time being classified. Some say that compulsive shopping is an impulse control disorder, some say it is an obsessive compulsive disorder, some say it is a bipolar disorder, and others consider it a clinical addiction.

Compulsive shopping is also growing. It is now estimated that as much as 8.9% of the American population have an addiction to shopping. Like other addictions, there are many causes, symptoms, and consequences of shopping addictions.

And like other addictions, the causes, symptoms, and consequences can be similar. Some of the symptoms include an over preoccupation with buying, and distress or impairment as a result of the activity.

Shopping addicts feel “highs” associated with the behavior, followed by feelings of disappointment, guilt, and depression… many times followed by “self medication” with more buying. Many shopping addicts get to the point where they try to hide their behavior from their loved ones.

Similar treatments
As you can see, most of these less talked about addictions have similar symptoms to our more “common” addictions. They also have similar consequences. Depression and loss of money, jobs, relationships, self respect, etc are all consequences associated with these different addictions.

And their treatment options and plans are also similar. For people struggling with these different types of addictions, with a little research you can usually find counselors, support groups, and treatment centers that can help you with the addiction you are struggling with.

by Nicole who is a content writer, writing about addiction and recovery related topics for Delray Recovery Center.

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