It has become easy to poke fun or ridicule a person affected by an uncontrollable addiction. Glorifying these conditions on modern media such as the Internet or reality TV is unfortunately commonplace in our society. All addictions are defined as doing something compulsively, without control, to the point of ignoring negative consequences.
We are all aware of the tragic implications caused by alcohol or drug addiction both for the individual and their loved ones. We don’t ridicule them but instead seek addiction treatments for these people. Why are less common addictions treated more lightly and with little concern? Any person with any addiction should seek professional medical advice before permanent damage occurs. Here is a list of some other potentially harmful addictions that most of us might not be aware of or perhaps didn’t realize the severity.
Chewing Ice (Pagophagia)
It was once thought that chewing ice indicated that the individual suffered an iron deficiency and would cease the activity when the proper dietary levels were met. This, however, is not always the case and the action can become an addiction. Not only are dental issues a concern, other nutritional or mental disorders should be addressed. Chewing ice could be a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or even could be stress related. In any event, the action is not likely to stop until underlying causes are dealt with.
The fact that people fraudulently use this defense to justify infidelity is appalling. In rare cases it could be true, but in the majority of cases it is used simply as an excuse. This misuse of a cause can damage the name of those that honestly do suffer from this condition. Sex addiction can be very complex and confusing. Most of those afflicted don’t even find pleasure in sex but instead feel shame and remorse. This is a very destructive addiction that can ruin lives and rip families apart. It is a widely misunderstood dysfunction that might be triggered by a rape or sexual abuse in early life, an underlying mental disorder or in some cases, no determining factor at all. Those that do suffer with sex addiction can become so fixated that sex becomes the only thing they can think about. This can lead them to aggressive sexual behavior, many sexual encounters with strangers and even rape. Unfortunately, many sex addicts end up doing jail time. Extreme professional counseling is required for these individuals in order to overcome one of the worst addictions that anyone has ever had to deal with.
Eating Things That Are Not Considered Food (Pica)
Actually a fairly common addiction but also one of the strangest we can think of. Those that suffer with Pica, which generally is the term for consuming non-food items, or Geophagia, which more specifically pertains to earthy items like dirt, ingest a variety of things that are not food related. These items may include:
- Ashes (even cremated family members)
- Toilet Paper or Paper Towels
Not only can eating these things make a person very sick, some can be considered fatal if ingested. Clear indications of the cause of this addiction are hard to find and it is one of the more complicated disorders to treat. It is considered to be under the umbrella of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, which by definition can normally be treated with therapy and sometimes medications. Some also believe that this condition can be created by a person trying to replace something that is missing from their diet. Even if they accomplish their goal nutritionally, they might be to the point that the addiction does not stop until they receive positive addiction treatment.
Shopping Addiction (Oniomania)
This addiction is probably considered the most comical and easily can be portrayed as laughable on TV shows or tossed around on bar stools by many husbands. But as was stated earlier, any activity can become a potentially dangerous addiction if it is not controllable, even after the addict knows it is a problem. However, let’s not confuse a shopping addiction to simply enjoying shopping. Everyone loves to shop occasionally but there are lines that eventually can be crossed. We all sometimes feel guilty when we buy something that we wanted, but maybe didn’t really need. That doesn’t make us all shopping addicts. The shopping addict has to buy things that they neither need nor want. They will spend hour after hour everyday shopping and buying with no regard to the cost or growing debt. They hide purchases from other family members and friends because they have the shame, but don’t have the ability to stop the addiction. If they don’t hide a purchase, they will probably lie about what they paid for it. Shopping addiction may stem from feelings of inadequacy, depression or other negative thoughts and can usually be treated with medication, therapy and group discussions.
Tanning and Body Modification
Excessive tanning isn’t really a strange addiction but it can certainly lead to severe health conditions such as skin aging, skin disorders and skin cancer. A tanning addict is defined as someone that either lies in the sun or visits a tanning salon more than eight to ten times a month. Tanning is one of the few addictions that can actually cause withdrawal symptoms if the subject attempts to stop. They can suffer dizziness, irritability, nausea and just a general uncomfortable feeling if unable to tan. From a very early age we are all taught the dangers of prolonged sun exposure and the importance of using sunscreen lotions. Tanning addicts believe that the process enhances their appearance regardless of the outcome.
A couple of tattoos and a piercing or two isn’t considered excessive body modification but some people have let it take over and control their life. Cosmetic surgery, tattoos and piercings reach addictive proportions if a person’s lifestyle, appearance and social life are affected negatively. Hollywood stars have glorified the cosmetic surgery process to the point that it sometimes is considered part of being glamorous. The effect of too much cosmetic surgery is well documented and can cause serious health issues. An individual with an above normal amount of tattoos or piercings could have an underlying mental condition. They, as well as any person who suffers with any addiction should seek professional advice and treatment before the situation grows out of control.