Uncommon Addictions

When most people think about addiction, they think of commonly abused substances, such as narcotics and alcohol, substances which are created by design to alter the mind and that lead to dependence so frequently, they have recovery programs named after them. Illegal drugs or alcohol are far from the only sources of addiction, though. Smoking cigarettes, obsession with pornography, and overuse of the Internet are all uncommon addictions that have the potential to alter a person’s life.

While most people have heard of nicotine, gambling, Internet, porn and sex addictions, though, a group that could be labeled addictions of “vice,” many people are unaware of the seemingly harmless items that may prove addictive to friends and family.

3 Uncommon Addictions

Food Addiction

The term “emotional eating” has become a catch-all phrase to describe the tendency of some people to overeat in order to get a boost in mood.

According to WebMD, this type of eating has less to do with the emotional response, though, than with the response of the body. In some individuals, food, especially those laden with salt, fat and sugar, trigger the same responses in the body that are triggered by drugs like heroin and cocaine.

Like with drug users, those who suffer from food addictions crave food even when they are not hungry, making them eat more and more in an effort to get the same effect.

Food addiction, unsurprisingly, leads to obesity and associated illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea. The shame of binge eating, or being significantly overweight, may also lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.

One of the main problems with treating food addiction stems from the fact that it is impossible for those who suffer from the addiction to simply abstain in the way that alcoholics and drug users can, but there are treatment options available.

Food addicts anonymous is a 12-step program that deals expressly with food addiction, offering realistic solutions, like cutting specific ingredients, such as sugar or refined carbs, from a person’s diet. Since the foods that are found to be most addictive are those with these specific triggers, removing them from the diet minimizes food’s effect on the same receptors that respond to drugs, making food less addictive.

Eating disorder programs that work for anorexics and bulimics also generally provide help for overeaters, since food addiction is technically an eating disorder.

Sleep Aids Addiction

Addiction to sleep aids is fairly common, which is why medical doctors are hesitant to prescribe them and carefully regulate how many pills a patient is given and how long a patient takes them.

Sleeping pills are meant to be a temporary fix for short-term sleep issues, not lifelong sleep-regulators. When misused, though, sleeping pills often become just that, creating a dependence that keeps abusers from sleeping without the help of a substance.

This dependence on sleep aids is what leads to addictions to prescription sleeping pills, such as Ambien.

It is possible for people to develop addictions to sleep aids, though, without ever having a prescription for sleeping pills. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications that induce sleep, such as Benadryl and Nyquil, also prove addictive for some people.

Like with prescription sleep aids, using an over-the-counter sleep aid on a nightly basis has the potential to retrain the body so that it physically cannot fall asleep without the help of a substance, according to Dr. Lisa Shives of Sleep Better. The body may also become resistant to the sleep aid, which means an abuser must take more of the substance in order to fall asleep.

Aside from the potential for addiction, physical symptoms produced by taking too much of an OTC sleep aid include low blood pressure and heart palpitations, according to Dr. Shives.

Those who use OTC sleep aids on a regular basis generally experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them, which may include sleeplessness. Due to this, it’s advisable to slowly reduce the amount of the sleep aid to which the user is addicted than to stop all at once, according to Dr. Shives. Working with a sleep clinic to figure out the root cause of a sleep disorder is an important step in preventing relapse, while a 12-step addiction program may prevent some abusers from returning to old habits.

Household Cleaners Addiction

Inhalant abuse, commonly known as huffing, has been increasingly in the news over the past few years as a trend among the modern generation of teenagers. While it does not generally get lumped in with uncommon addictions, inhalant abuse may be more common than most people think. According to the Mayo Clinic, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 10 percent of children over the age of 12 have tried “huffing.”

There are many household products that have the potential for abuse. These include:

  • Gases, such as nitrous oxide found in whipped cream cans
  • Nitrites, once found in cleaners and room deodorizers and now banned in U.S.-made consumer products
  • Aerosols, like those found in hair spray cans
  • Solvents, such as paint thinner, gasoline and glue

The chemical substances breathed in when huffing impact the central nervous system. Immediate effects include dizziness, loss of coordination and inhibition, and slurred speech, according to the Mayo Clinic, while the effects of long-term inhalant abuse may lead to liver and kidney damage or permanent brain damage.

Since inhalants have direct impact on the central nervous system, they also increase the heart rate, which can lead to an irregular heartbeat. If an irregular heartbeat fails to correct itself, an individual may suffer heart failure, which is possible any time a person intentionally inhales household chemicals, according to Mayo Clinic, even if it’s the person’s first time using.

Treatment For Household Cleaner Abuse

Inhalants are like any substance that causes a high. Users often become psychologically dependent on them due to the feeling they get from abusing the substances. So, just like with other drugs, most inhalant abusers become long-term users who have difficulty quitting on their own.

Inhalant abuse is most commonly treated through professional counseling, either at a treatment center or through an individual therapist. Medications may be used to help stem withdrawal symptoms while the inhalant abuser gets over the physical dependence, and a 12-step program or continued counseling is generally necessary to prevent relapse into abuse.

No Matter The Substance, There Is Help For Uncommon Addictions

Addiction doesn’t always come in the form of street drugs or alcohol. Sometimes, addiction is found in the everyday items that seem the most innocent.

Whether an illicit substance, or the food in the refrigerator is the root of uncommon addictions, treatment is always available, and by getting the proper care, a person can kick uncommon addictions and move forward in his or her life.

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