Most people think that alcohol and substance abuse are the only real types of addiction. It is hard for them to take any other kinds of addiction seriously. This is especially true of addictions that don’t involve your body in any direct way. After all, we have learned to think about addiction in terms of physical dependence.
However, there are more types of addiction that don’t involve alcohol or substances than you think. And they’re not rare. Millions of people suffer from the kinds of addictions we are going to list.
Before we get started, it is important that we understand the line at which we can begin to call something an addiction. An addiction is something that you do in order to cope in day-to-day life, that you continue doing even though it is harmful to yourself and others, and that eventually makes it difficult for you to function normally.
1. Gambling addiction
It took a while for professionals to get on board with the concept of a gambling addiction, but with millions of people struggling each year, its status has become indisputable.
Gambling addiction ticks all the boxes. People engage in gambling to cope with difficult emotions, including the fear of financial failure. And while it might seem like a viable way of making money, it usually becomes clear after a number of losses that winning in the long run is almost impossible.
Still, a person with a gambling addiction continues to gamble in spite of the harm, losing money that would otherwise have gone towards paying important bills and taking care of loved ones. Eventually, their addiction causes them to miss work and social events, lie and manipulate, and struggle to function on a daily basis.
It has recently been discovered that gambling in fact rewires a person’s brain in a similar way to illegal drugs.
2. Porn addiction
The advent of the Internet has had many consequences, but one of the most significant is the abundant access the average person has to pornography. Whereas in the past, one would have to buy or rent magazines and videos, today all it takes is a Google search to find endless free content.
Pornography is not inherently a bad thing. It can be used responsibly to indulge healthy fantasies, even within a relationship. However, people battling porn addiction have increasingly seen how it can cause tremendous harm to themselves and others.
Some people watch porn as a way to cope with difficult emotions. This can be useful, but when it becomes a regular coping mechanism, it can lead to addiction. After some time, the person is no longer able to cope without watching porn.
This behavior leads to negative consequences, such as spending money one does not have on access to porn sites and webcam platforms, as well as watching porn in inappropriate contexts in spite of the risk of getting caught. This sometimes leads to loss of jobs and opportunities.
It can also negatively affect relationships, when the addicted individual watches porn instead of having sex with their partner. They start to engage in behaviors like lying and manipulation that make it difficult to function in work, school, and social contexts.
3. Shopping addiction
For most people, shopping is simply a normal part of day-to-day living. You need to acquire goods to survive, and occasionally splash out on indulgences. However, for people struggling with shopping addiction, it can become incredibly harmful.
A person struggling with a shopping addiction buys items impulsively and compulsively. They may not think about potential financial consequences, or buy these items despite knowing it will have severe financial consequences.
Shopping addiction comes about when shopping is used as a way of avoiding dealing with strong emotions. The term “retail therapy” has been used to describe the phenomenon, but considering how it can become a harmful addiction, the term therapy is misplaced.
As with other addictions, shopping addiction leads to behaviors such as lying and manipulating, and theft. It causes rifts in relationships, legal trouble, job loss, and a range of other difficulties that interrupts healthy day-to-day functioning.