When you hear the word addiction, your mind may automatically think of dependence on a substance, such as drugs or alcohol. But, the definition of addiction may surprise you. According to Wikipedia, “Addiction is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.”
That means you can also become addicted to “behaviors.” Something that starts out as fun turns into a habit, and then becomes a compulsion.
Here are 10 surprising things you may be addicted to:
You may think that browsing the internet is just a fun way to pass the time. However, studies have shown that internet addiction actually alters the brain in ways that are similar to the affects of drug and alcohol addiction. An addiction to the internet involves loss of control, as well as negative consequences at home and at work.
Smartphones are another new habit that can become an addiction. You keep it with you all the time and check it every few minutes. You ignore in-person interactions to catch a text or a post from someone you haven’t seen in years. You work too much because you’re constantly checking your phone. Put the phone down and have a conversation!
You may not realize that caffeine is a drug. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I want coffee. I am on edge without it and will get a headache from caffeine withdrawal. Coffee, soda and energy drinks can all be overused. As long as you don’t overdo it, your caffeine habit can be harmless.
Many people get sugar cravings. Foods high in carbs, fats and sugar can affect your brain just like drugs do. You may be craving a chocolate candy bar or an ice cream cone. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re addicted, but your sweet tooth can get out of control and contribute to other health problems.
I admit it. I have a shopping addiction. I love clothes, shoes, kitchen gadgets and more. I just enjoy the act of shopping. When you shop, it may lift you up when you’re feeling down or just make you happy. That’s because your brain actually releases a feel-good chemical called dopamine. Chronic shopping may also mean you have impulse-control problems or anxiety issues. Shopping too often can also lead to financial, social or deeper emotional problems.
You can become addicted to the sun. The ultraviolet spectrum of sunlight releases chemicals in your body called endorphins. They make you feel good. You may also feel like you’re never tan enough no matter how tan you get. This may be a sign of an obsessive-compulsive or body dysmorphic disorder.
Of the behavioral addictions, gambling is the one most closely related to drug and alcohol addiction. Gambling lights up the same areas in the brain as drug addictions. You may bet on an office pool, gamble online or gamble more seriously at slot machines, poker tables, or off track betting. If you’re not lucky, betting can wreak havoc on your finances, job and family life.
As I sit here writing this on a Saturday morning, it’s possible that I am addicted to work. While most of the work world looks forward to weekends, those who have an addiction may find themselves working nights and weekends. While we joke about being a “workaholic,” it can jeopardize a person’s health and relationships.
Can’t put down the video game console? Do you think about playing games while doing other activities? Research shows that boys and men most commonly have a video game addiction. If you’re shirking responsibilities, work or social activities to play video games, you may be addicted. With games becoming more realistic and challenging, it’s even harder to separate fantasy from reality.
Food can become a problem if you’re eating to ease emotions, overeating while alone and then feeling guilty after the binge. While food can seem like a drug for people with eating disorders, it’s not considered a true addiction. It’s important to develop healthy eating habits and avoid issues with food.
It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Any activity or habit can become an issue if it begins to control your life. It’s important to find balance in everything you do. If you discover that you’re hooked on a behavior and it’s having negative consequences, it may be time to make a change!