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Strange Addictions

Updated on March 22, 2013

Many people in the world suffer from some kind of addiction. Some addictions are healthier than others, although one can argue that excess in anything you do or consume is likely not good. Overdoing something is not exactly healthy.

Some people have healthy addictions, such as constant exercise. Others have unhealthy addictions, such as sugar consumption.

Some people are addicted to legal substances, such as caffeine or alcohol. Others are addicted to illegal substances, such as heroin or methamphetamine.

Some people are addicted to legal acts, such as chewing their fingernails. Others are addicted to illegal acts, such as stealing.

Some people have normal addictions. Others have atypical ones.

Below are some atypical addictions that some people have that make us say, "Hmmm...."


Tattoo Addiction

It is difficult to believe that roughly 14 percent of the US population have tattoos. People who have subjected themselves to the intense pain because they feel body art can:

  • make them feel more attractive and stronger, or
  • make them feel rebellious, or
  • help them feel sexier.

Tattooing is a way for people to express themselves along with displaying body art, just like other methods of harm or mutilation, such as piercing, branding, and scarification or cutting. Those who are addicted to tattooing feel that the "high" that they feel as a result of the endorphins they feel outweighs the pain factor. People are willing to feel pain for a little while right after they are on cloud nine.

There is a caution for those who are severely addicted to tattooing and any other body modification technique. When people practice self-mutilation at the extreme level where they can be deemed unsafe, they may be trying to control deep, emotional pain. Cutting and self-mutilation are symptoms of people suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.


Tanning Addiction

Some people like to go on vacation in the winter to enjoy ski resorts and what they have to offer.  Others head to the beach for rest and relaxation.  Of the beach lovers, approximately half of them, as studies have shown, could be seen as tanning addicts.  The natural high people feel after laying out at the beach all day is the addictive part.  Some people are merely addicted to the "tanned look" and don't even care about the rush from laying out.

Having a tanning addiction is extremely risky as the sun's harsh rays are known to cause skin cancer.  The endorphins created when skin is exposed to sunlight or a tanning bed causes people to crave the process.  A warning goes out to those who tan between eight and 15 times a month.  Frequent tanners will likely experience physiological withdrawal symptoms if they are not exposed to mood-boosting chemicals, like endorphins.


Cosmetic Surgery Addiction

There has been a reported increase of people desiring and following through with multiple plastic surgeries in the United States.  In 2000, 7.4 million people had a cosmetic procedure performed on them compared to 12.1 million in 2008.  Not surprisingly, 91% of the people pursuing the procedures are female.  Most people have very minor procedures done, such as straightening their noses or augmenting their breasts.  For some people, however, the surgeries are ongoing and repeated over and over again.

The root of the desire of constant cosmetic surgery can potentially be Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD.  Repeated plastic surgery can lead to health and/or financial risk.  Even worse, many people diagnosed with BDD also show symptoms of anxiety and depression, resulting in social isolation.  Those suffering from BDD often feel that there is constant work that needs to be done in order to look better.  They see major flaws in their appearances, which tend to be a product of their imaginations rather than reality.  Cosmetic surgery addiction can be extremely dangerous to a person's health.  Addicts or those diagnosed with BDD are often treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy and prescribed medication.


Hair-pulling Addiction

You would think that the pain involved would prevent a person from compulsively pulling their hair out of their heads, but it doesn't.  Over 11 million people suffer from a psychological condition called trichotillomania, or trich.  This impulse disorder makes it difficult for people to control their urges to yank out their hair.

The hair that people pull when they suffer from this condition include hair from the crown of the head, the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, or other parts of the body.  This addiction to hair-pulling leaves people with bald patches on their bodies. 

Most of the time, people who suffer from trich are deeply anxious and are not able to feel relief or pleasure until their hair is pulled out.  There are other, less invasive versions of this condition as well where the person suffering from trich will chew on or eat their hair.  Behavior therapy and medication can help someone overcome this addiction or disorder.


Eating Dirt

It is difficult to believe that people would even be inclined to eat something like dirt, let alone be addicted to eating a non-food item.  'Geophagia' is a term given to people who have such addictions, as well as those who are addicted to other earthly materials such as chalk, clay, or coal.  Related to this are people who have 'pica' and are addicted to eating other non-food items such as feces, cigarette ashes, paint, or paper.

Doctors believe that these addictions can be caused by a deficiency of iron or zinc in the body.  The deficiency is usually caused by an eating disorder, food deprivation, or malnutrition.  These addictions are also found mostly in people who have been diagnosed with autism, mental retardation, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.


Smart Phone Addiction

In the current day and age of technology, smart phones are in every person's hands.  Everywhere  we go, we see them as extensions of people.  They can't function without the hand-held device.  People are addicted to the constant access and feedback of information from surfing the internet to sending text messages to their friends all day long.

The urge to use the smart phone or be on the internet is so prevalent that it has warranted the naming of a new disorder in the psychological world.  Doctors actually treat people, today, for Internet Addiction Disorder, or IAD.  People have IAD when usage of the internet interferes with a people's everyday lives and pulls them away from school, work, and social events.


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    • profile image

      michelle clark 

      8 years ago

      i actually have trich and what you have written there is absolutely true. i have ocd and an anxiety disorder. when i get really anxious, i resort to it. its like a stress relief.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Very interesting and well written. I was thinking to myself that tattoos are often a more 'acceptable' way of self mutilation for those with a borderline personality disorder and then you included reference to that information. Nice job.

    • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      emilybee: Thank you. Good luck to you as you face the challenge and continue on in the endeavor!

      gguy: Wow...never thought of that addiction, but I suppose we can develop addictions to just about anything...interesting!

      BlissfulWriter: Good point. I see that particularly true for the youngest generation!

    • BlissfulWriter profile image


      8 years ago

      Internet and video game addiction is becoming more prevalent these days too.

    • gguy profile image


      8 years ago from new jersey usa

      Interesting hub, I did a brief one on addictions to get rich schemes

    • emilybee profile image


      8 years ago

      Very nice hub! Goodluck with the 30 hubs challenge - I'm doing it too.


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