When you hear the word “addiction”, chances are that you also think of things like drugs, alcohol, food, or even smartphones. However, because addiction is a disease influenced by the reward center of the brain, nearly anything can trigger addictive behaviors. While not all addictions are harmful, each of them can significantly impact the lives of the person with the addiction. The following is a list of 10 of the most unusual addictions that have been discovered.
I’m sure we’ve all had that friend who casually claims that she is addicted to shopping. However, for those with an actual addiction to shopping, also known as oniomania, the repercussions can be serious. Those with oniomania have no control over their purchasing behaviors, often going into crippling debt to feed their habit. Many hide their purchases from friends or family and have multiple credit cards that are used for shopping. In the most severe cases, the purchases actually never get used. It’s not the item that is important to the buyer, but rather, it is the actual process of purchasing.
Exercise is probably one of the healthiest activities that have the potential for addiction. Sometimes this addiction is seen in professional athletes, but exercise addiction can also occur in others. It can also occur in conjunction with anorexia or bumelia nervosa. With exercise addiction, the athletes often crave the post-workout high, sometimes exercising at an intense level for two to three hours a day. This can put a lot of strain on the heart, lungs, and muscles. This is in addition to consequences faced when this level of exercise is performed despite injury. Those with exercise addiction can also face difficulties with eating enough calories for the level of activity performed. maintaining a healthy body weight.
Hair pulling, also referred to as trichotillomania, is a compulsive activity done to control symptoms of anxiety. Those with trichotillomania have a compulsive and overwhelming urge to pull hair from their head, arms, eyebrows, eyelashes, or beard. This often results in bald spots. Some individuals also chew or even eat their hair, which can cause digestive difficulties or blockages.
An addiction to body modification can manifest itself in various ways. For some, it involves frequent plastic surgeries, while others might get dozens of tattoos or piercings. In extreme cases, the body is modified to such a level that it is difficult to recognize the person. While many feel that body modification, even to an extreme, is a form of self-expression, it can also be triggered by a lack of self-esteem or by a mental illness called body dysmorphic disorder. Individuals with addiction to body modification can face financial repercussions from repeated expensive surgeries or procedures and some have even died following surgery.
Eating Dirt and Other Non-Edible Items
An addiction to eating dirt and other items that are not edible is pica. This is actually a common addictive disorder in those with autism or other developmental delays, but can be seen in people with iron deficiency anemia (consuming ice or sand). Eating non-edible items can sometimes lead to choking or poisonings. Some people even consume soap or laundry detergent, which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, as well as severe dehydration.
Like addictions to sniffing other inhalants, smelling gasoline can be dangerous. Those addicted to sniffing gasoline do so for the drunk-like euphoric high it causes within five minutes of huffing, complete with dizziness, disorientation, and a sense of relaxation. However, sniffing gasoline can lead to a host of harmful consequences, including hallucinations, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting, suppressed central nervous system, severe coughing, headaches, kidney damage, seizures, liver damage, damage to the lungs, permanent brain damage, changes to the cardiovascular system, fainting or passing out, and in severe cases, even coma or death.
While we all know “neat-freaks” some people can develop an addiction to cleaning. This addiction often manifests as a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder. These individuals might never find their homes to be clean enough. They often spending up to hours each day cleaning and then recleaning, even if their house is not dirty. In severe cases, those with cleaning addiction have even attempted suicide to be free from their cleaning habit.
Compulsive or addictive stealing, also known as kleptomania, is an addiction that often leads to legal consequences. Those with kleptomania don’t often need the items that they steal, differentiating stealing addiction from stealing for survival. The individual often does not plan to steal and gives away or discards the item after taking it. Those with kleptomania steal on impulse but typically feel depressed or guilty afterwards, although they are not able to control their tendency to steal in the future despite knowing that it’s wrong.
Addiction to drinking blood is one of the more disturbing unusual addictions. Those who suffer from the condition often feel the compulsion to consume human or animal blood. Some with the condition engage in self-harm behaviors, cutting their own body and drinking the blood, while other people with blood addiction tragically kill humans or animals to feed their addiction. Those with an addiction to drinking blood often have co-occurring serious mental health issues, including dissociative identity disorder. While consuming blood can be part of a traditional diet in some countries, those with an addiction often undergo extreme behaviors, such as cutting or homicide, to maintain a daily supply.
Pet addiction can be a form of hoarding and typically involves the compulsive collecting of pets, far beyond what they can care for. This often starts off as the person rescuing a stray dog or cat, but then quickly escalates to a dozen, or dozens, of animals. Pet addiction can lead to cases of heinous animal neglect, including starvation or animals living in filthy conditions, covered in their own waste. The individual with pet addiction often cannot adequately care for all of the animals, nor can they relinquish them willingly.
While each of these addictions might be less well-known than drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to remember that any addiction is a form of mental illness and can have a significant and profound effect on your life. If you or a loved one suffers from any form of addiction, it is important to seek help, especially to address any underlying mental health conditions. Getting help is the first step to freeing yourself from the chains of addiction and living a healthy life.