Addictions are frequently and wrongly stigmatised in Australia. People most often think of drugs, alcohol and gambling addictions, but the truth is, anything that can cause a change in your mood can become addictive. Addictions involve repeatedly engaging in an activity or using a substance for pleasure, even if it becomes harmful to yourself or those around you.
These five lesser-known addictions are more socially accepted than some others, making them harder to identify in yourself or those around you. But don’t be fooled, they can have serious consequences for your health and wellbeing.
Many of us need our morning kick of caffeine before we feel able to face the day, but being reliant on a cup of coffee is something different. If you try to cut caffeine out of your diet and are met with a serious headache, fatigue, anxiety, lowered mood and difficulty concentrating, you’re going through caffeine withdrawal.
While hugely convenient at times, the rise of smartphones has meant that we are expected to be on call all day, every day. Failing to reply to a message for an hour or more is considered rude, if you step back from social media for a day you’ll fall ‘out of the loop’, and if your boss calls you over the weekend, you can’t ignore it. Some people may find themselves checking their phone compulsively every few minutes or feel anxious when they don’t have their phone in hand. If you find yourself subconsciously reaching for your smartphone, try setting yourself limits on screen time. If you find it difficult to meet these, consult your doctor or a counsellor.
Clicking the purchase button when shopping online or browsing through stores can give you momentary ‘feel-good’ chemicals. While we’ve all guilty of purchasing something we don’t need, those who do it regularly may really be chasing the endorphin rush. A shopping addiction can land you in financial and social trouble, so it’s important to be honest and seek help as soon as possible.
Chocolate is the most frequently craved food by women. It has a chemical effect on your brain, making it release happy hormones. Those of us who inhale chocolate like it’s air are known somewhat jokingly, and somewhat problematically, as ‘chocoholics’. However, the jury is still out on whether it is a real addiction or just very intense cravings. Self-proclaimed chocolate addicts show similar behaviour to people addicted to drugs. They salivate around chocolate, have irregular eating behaviours, abnormal moods and higher anxiety. If you suspect your love for chocolate is getting in the way of a healthy diet, or is impacting your mood, try to cut it out.
Many magazines love to make fun of celebrities’ cosmetic fails and over botoxed faces, but a dark truth often hides behind them. Body dysmorphic disorder, also called body dysmorphia, is a serious mental health disorder that affects how people see themselves and causes them to obsess over perceived flaws. Some people get cosmetic procedures to ‘correct’ these flaws and may become addicted to them when they fail to see improvements. This is often because the flaws they perceive are imagined or over-exaggerated by their minds. If you suffer from body or self-esteem related issues, see a doctor or therapist as soon as possible.
If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, seek help immediately. Early intervention can be important in helping them to regain control of their lives and wellbeing.
Do you consider yourself and addict? Do you impulsively check your smartphone or can’t help but reach for a block of chocolate?
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