This post was originally published on March 25, 2015.
There are quirky types of alcoholism, like downing pure Tahitian vanilla extract or chugging cough syrup when there’s no real booze in the house. And as far as quirky drug addiction goes, lots of teens get high by inhaling hot pink spray paint, White-Out, rubber cement or unleaded gasoline.
But compared to some other addictions out there, these seem straight-up commonplace. Far more obscure, shocking and disgusting compulsions plague people across the globe. When reading about these aberrant behaviors from a laptop, it’s easy to laugh or scoff, but imagine being enslaved to addictions that are not only painful but also socially embarrassing on a daily basis.
An addiction to crack probably has less stigma than some of the addictions below.
No, dirt eating is not limited to babies or toddlers bored at the park on a Sunday. Technically called geophagia, dirt-eating is an ancient practice that is still common in some parts of the world, especially in developing countries. It’s not always a bad thing—soil can be rich with essential vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B-12. But in the US, this behavior is considered pathological, an addiction that falls under a disorder known as pica—the craving and consumption of inedible substances like coins, keys or anything that’s not food.
The biggest problem with chomping on dirt is the threat of contamination by animal or human feces. Parasites can also fester in dirt, leading to serious complications. So yeah, if you’ve got a dirt addiction, you might want to substitute it with something similar but a bit more innocuous, like Vita-Mixed Oreos without the filling. Just stick the crumbs in flower pot, rip out a spoon, stuff your face and call it a day.
2. Ice Cubes
Also known as pagophalia, chomping on ice cubes compulsively is also a form of pica. While some argue that people who compulsively chew on ice have nutritional deficiencies, such as anemia, often an ice addiction can actually lead to iron loss. Other problems with ice addiction are cracked teeth and, while far less serious, perpetual brain freeze. Ouch.
3. Lip Balm
Of all the quirky entries on this list, lip balm addiction is the only one that has a 12-step group to promote recovery. Though psychologists and dermatologists debate about whether it’s a certifiable addiction, it certainly causes people some problems when they’re compelled to apply the stuff 72 times a day and can’t leave the house unless they’ve got a stash loaded in their purse or pockets.
Still, constantly reaching for the Blistex or Carmex isn’t nearly as bad as clawing for a meth pipe. At least if you’re addicted to lip balm you won’t lose your teeth or your marbles.
4. Drinking Blood
Blood guzzling might conjure up images of an sexy Brad Pitt gnashing through the jugular vein of a sultry woman, but real life blood suckers are foul news. Though there are very few documented cases of blood bingers on the planet, a few have been spotlighted in the media.
Michelle, a 29-year-old woman who was featured on TLC’s My Strange Addiction, has been addicted to drinking blood since she was 15 and sucks out the plasma from her close friends and lovers. And in Turkey, a 23-year-old man started stabbing and biting people in his community to satisfy his urges. Sadly, this man had witnessed a brutal murder right before the blood lust emerged, obviously setting off the addiction—a la Dexter.
Yes, you can be addicted to taking selfies, as evidenced by Danny Bowmen, a young Englishman who, at the height of his addiction, snapped 200 selfies a day. The poor lad also suffered from OCD and body dysmorphia. Though constantly taking pictures of your face, ass and torso might seem like an inconsequential addiction, the compulsion to spend every waking hour desperately trying to capture the perfect glamour shot often leads to suicide ideation and even suicide attempts. While many claim selfie addictions are just examples vanity and narcissism, many psychiatrists agree it’s a mental health issue that deserves some compassion and tolerance.
Whether you’re a selfie addict with serious psychological problems or just an asshole who’s obsessed with yourself is a question only you can decide. But if you’re curious, here’s an online test.