The word ‘addiction’ is most often associated with a drug or alcohol use disorder, which are, admittedly, among the most widespread addictions out there. In reality, activities and even emotions, and not only substances like drugs, alcohol, or certain foods can be addictive. But that’s all old news to most of you, as you’ve likely already heard of shopping and computer addiction, or trichotillomania – the obsessive urge of pulling out your own hair, all of which are widespread examples of addictive behaviors.
People who suffer from addiction are not in control of their actions, and the reasons for this loss of control are both genetic, neurological, and psychological.
1. Fortune Telling
Let’s start off this list with one of the most bizarre addictions imaginable – the dependence on frequent fortune-telling services. The only recorded case of fortune-telling addiction has been mentioned in a 2015 case study about a 45-year-old woman named Helen, who has turned to a specific fortune-teller over the phone for more than a decade, often calling every day, sometimes for as long as 8 hours a day.
This behavior has caused financial problems for Helen, who admits that she often calls to learn about minor and unimportant details because she feels like she has to know the “right” decision. Her case ticks all boxes for addiction, and Helen has been undergoing treatment for quite a while.
2. Using Over the Counter Nasal Sprays
While not an addiction in scientific terms, OTC nasal sprays, such as decongestant sprays and even saltwater sprays, can make your body depend on it. This is especially true when it comes to people suffering from seasonal allergies, who become heavily reliant on the nasal spray, using it multiple times a day.
This long term use of nasal sprays can cause rebound congestion – the worsening of nasal congestion after frequent use of OTC nasal sprays. The worst part of this phenomenon is that, with time, the spray will become effective for less and less time, making you use it more and more often. This is exactly why physicians recommend resorting to these nasal sprays only in special cases and use it no longer than a few days. The only way to break the vicious cycle is to stop using the spray completely.
3. Being Rejected
Most of us seek love and compassion in a relationship, and the loss or rejection by a partner is often the cause of grief, sadness, and even depression. But for some people, the most sought-after feeling is to be rejected.
In fact, brain imaging studies show that loss stimulates brain regions in the brain associated with motivation and reward (the same regions as drug craving), which tells the researchers that the participants are addicted to the feelings and thoughts about their former romantic partners. For these people, the ultimate goal is unrequited love.
4. Having Cosmetic Surgery Done
Cosmetic surgery addiction is probably among the more well-known of the bunch. However, few people understand the depth of this condition. Scientists believe that the condition is a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder, which is also the cause of eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia.
Patients suffering from the condition perceive various minor flaws in their appearance as a reason to avoid social situations and constantly think about these ‘flaws’, real or not, so much so that it interferes with their life satisfaction and daily life. Some of these patients resort to a never-ending sequence of cosmetic surgeries as a means to achieve the desired appearance, without realizing that their self-perception and not their appearance that is the real issue.
5. Eating Carrots
We bet you didn’t see this one coming, but it’s true, eating carrots can be addictive, at least for some people. Scientists from New Zealand found that patients can exhibit addictive behavior to eating carrots, and they even know why. The researchers believe it is beta carotene, the antioxidant that gives carrots their orange hue, which may be addictive, as it is capable of mimicking the same addictive elements that can be found in nicotine.
So, it turns out that munching on a carrot can become similarly addictive to smoking. While carrot addiction may be healthier than smoking, it does cause the same withdrawal symptoms – irritability, nervousness, cravings, and even insomnia.
6. Playing Video Games
Media and medical research have been buzzing about ‘video gaming addiction’ for quite a while, but it was only recently, in 2018, that the World Health Organization started recognizing it as a diagnosable condition. But before you rush to rip out the joystick out of your kids’ or grandkids’ little hands, consider this:
As with many addictions, moderate use and the ability to maintain a healthy and full life are both signs that your loved ones are just fine, as they don’t qualify for the addiction criteria. It is when a person’s social life, education, occupation, and relationships become threatened by gaming for a period of over 12 months that you should start being concerned about their gaming habits.
7. Eating Dirt
Geophagia, or the habit of eating dirt, sand, or clay, is a surprisingly ancient condition, with the first recordings of the addiction dating back to 460 BC, with Ancient Roman doctors reporting back about the condition. Interestingly, this addiction can occur for many medical reasons ranging from psychological, to a side effect of pregnancy, and even a sign of iron deficiency anemia.
From an addiction standpoint, geophagia is a sub-type of pica – the persistent eating of substances that have no nutritional value. Other examples of pica include eating rocks and hair, both of which can be quite dangerous, as you might imagine.