The 4 Most Common Behavioral Addictions

The 4 Most Common Behavioral Addictions

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behavioral addictions(This post was originally published in June 2014.)

Everyone knows about alcohol, drug, and cigarette addiction (with 14 million Americans currently addicted to booze, it kind of stares all of us in the face on a daily basis!).

But when it comes to other things you can be addicted to, sometimes it seems like almost anything goes. (That horrible My Strange Addiction reality show on TLC doesn’t help—in fact, it’s kind of addictive in its own gross TMI/WTF way). That’s why we read this story on four of the most expensive “abnormal addictions” with interest.

The addictions included in the piece are behavioral, not physical. So what are they? Without further adieu, the top four priciest unusual addictions include:

1) Addiction to Red Bull

Do I like me some sugar-free energy drinks? I do, indeed, though I prefer Rock Star to Red Bull because the bottle is bigger. Not surprisingly, these  kinds of beverages are considered highly addictive—the caffeine levels are through the roof, and the price tag can be, too: “With an estimated cost of $2 to $3 per drink, this addiction costs upward of $3,000 per year for a user in beverage costs alone.”

Younger people are generally the ones who are most taken with these kinds of drinks; 31 percent of kids between 12-17 consume them. The scary thing is that Red Bull and its brethren aren’t always harmless pick-me-up—they can be dangerous for some folks (they sent more than 20,000 people to the ER in 2011).

2) Addiction to Shopping

Um, no—no one here has that problem. I’m a master of money management! I budget and keep detailed spreadsheets and generally adhere to a strict allowance and constantly check up on how much is coming in versus how much is going out. HA HA JUST KIDDING! I know lots of people with an addiction to shopping and spending money, and I kinda have that problem myself. Whether it’s cheap clothes and jewelry from F21 or going a little overboard at Trader Joe’s, there’s just something about Getting New Shit that stirs my inner addict. And I’m not alone— Healthline estimates that six percent of Americans have a shopping addiction.

3) Gaming

I haven’t been a gamer since the good old days of early Nintendo—I’ll never forget the thrill of victory and frustration of loss involved in my endless games of “Super Mario,” “Kid Icarus” and “Zelda.” Though video games still intrigue me somewhat, they haven’t been something I’ve been interested in pursuing; there’s simply too much good TV to be watched. But I am alone (or nearly alone) in my apathy towards video game goodness. Apparently 67 percent of Americans play video games, but obvs not all of those people are addicted. How do you know if you’re addicted? According to the article, gaming becomes a problem when you “continue to play for increased amounts of time, think about games during other activities, use games to escape from real-life problems, are deceptive about your gaming habits and get irritated when you can’t play.”

4) Internet/Text Messaging

I know almost no one who isn’t somewhat dependent on the Internet and texting to fill all their life needs, wants and requirements, Whether it’s an addiction to Facebook, obsessively checking your email, or simply feeling empty if no one texts you for a day or two, those who fit in this category might want to consider taking a breather.

But how can you tell if it’s an addiction and not just a casual daily habit? Well, “people with an Internet addiction may lose track of time while online, isolate themselves, neglect other responsibilities, feel euphoric while online and get defensive about their online habits.”

And an estimate shows that social media use costs each company around $4,500 in lost productivity. Eek! Time to close up your laptop. Yes, right now.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and CNN.com. Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.