Some people are more likely to become addicts than others. It may be in their genes, a result of childhood trauma, or due to environmental factors out of their control. However, the fact remains that anyone can be susceptible to addiction, especially when they start using on one (or more) of the ten most addictive things in the world listed below.
But What is Addiction?
You may have a cup of coffee every morning, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a caffeine addict. Addiction occurs when a person is physically or emotionally incapable of stopping a certain drug. Doing so would likely result in serious physical withdrawal symptoms because the body has become so accustomed to a constant influx of this drug.
On the other hand, if you need a few cups of coffee every morning and get a major headache without your caffeine fix, you may be addicted. Fortunately, caffeine doesn’t make the top 10 list. *sigh of relief*
Here then, are the top ten addictions that can sabotage your health, and how. That they are highly addictive is obvious; if you want to stay healthy, try and avoid them. Some are clearly drugs, but you may be surprised to learn about some of the other addictive things on this list.
When you smoke a cigarette, there is a quick surge of nicotine to the brain. The surge is so quick, in fact, that drug levels peak within 10 seconds. Nicotine’s effects dissipate quickly, though, and this causes smokers to smoke often throughout the day. It’s also why chain-smoking is such an issue.
Anyone who has tried to stop smoking cigarettes knows that nicotine withdrawal can be rough. Symptoms include depression, anxiety, irritability, cravings, insomnia, increased appetite and attention deficits. Depending on your level of addiction, withdrawal symptoms may begin just a few hours after your last cigarette. Recovery is different for everyone. Most people’s symptoms subside within a few weeks, but others may suffer withdrawals for months.
Barbiturates are most often prescribed for seizures, headaches, and insomnia. They are a class of drugs that depress the central nervous system by sedating nerves and causing muscle relaxation. For those who need them, barbiturates can feel like a lifesaver, but be sure to be very careful when using them—barbiturates are among the most highly addictive substances in the world.
Cocaine is a recreational drug, and it is the most potent natural intoxicant. Cocaine has a powerfully stimulating effect on the nervous system that lasts about 15 to 30 minutes. In the past, people underestimated how addictive cocaine can be. In fact, it’s true that this drug was part of the original formula for a very popular cola drink, but it was removed in 1903. Withdrawal symptoms may include depression, increased appetite, unpleasant dreams, agitation, and fatigue. Cocaine’s draw is powerful for addicts, but the “high” becomes less and less appealing as the user becomes more and more addicted.
Because alcohol is so readily available, it’s not surprising that it is one of the most abused substances. While some people can enjoy it in moderation, alcohol is highly addictive for some. You probably know or have known someone who is an alcoholic, but there’s something about this addiction you probably don’t know: alcohol withdrawal produces some of the most severe symptoms of all addictive substances. Another interesting fact about alcohol is that the substance itself isn’t addictive. We become addicted to the chemical reactions that occur in the brain when drinking. Alcoholics aren’t necessarily looking for a “high.” They eventually come to need alcohol to help them feel normal, as contradictory as that sounds.
Heroin is an extremely dangerous drug because of its potential to become an addiction. Heroin provides a short-lived euphoric feeling to the user, and that soon becomes the only way they can feel happy. Many heroin users struggle to find happiness for years after they quit the drug. This is because heroin changes the way your brain works. It limits the ability of dopamine receptors to return to their pre-heroin state. This causes a never-ending cycle of chasing after the euphoric high that heroin provides – because it becomes so difficult to find elsewhere.
Gambling is a seemingly innocuous pastime that may start with a few scratch-off tickets and end with serious debt. Compulsive gambling is an impulse control disorder, and these are quite dangerous. Addicted gamblers cannot stop gambling under any circumstances, even when the stakes are high and the odds are stacked against them. Although gambling isn’t a physical substance, quitting can still come with withdrawal symptoms. These include depression, irritability, anxiety, and restlessness, and this can play havoc with mental health.
7. Social Media
When was the last time you picked up your phone to check your Facebook newsfeed? It was in the last hour, wasn’t it? You may well be addicted to social media. Technology, such as our smartphones, makes social media a little too accessible for some people. Cornell Information Science published a study
Sugar is a part of everyone’s life. Sugars occur naturally in fruits and some vegetables, so how can they be addictive? The problem comes in the refining process. Refined sugar is structurally similar to cocaine, and some experts believe that sugar is even more addictive than the street drug. Much like when you give up caffeine, sugar withdrawals can come with some major headaches and mood swings.
Between 3 and 5% of the global population is affected by sex addiction. For sex addicts, sex becomes compulsive instead of an expression of love. This addiction may stem from childhood trauma. Those suffering from this addiction typically have low self-esteem and attempt to fill the void with random sexual encounters. Irritability and cravings are two symptoms commonly associated with sex addiction withdrawals. And let’s not even talk about the repercussions as a result of this.
For many of us, food is more than just sustenance. The smells and flavors of your favorite meal can bring back memories and make you feel warm inside. Many of us have somewhat of an emotional attachment to food, but for some people, food is an addiction. If you cannot control your food intake or are exhibiting signs of an eating disorder, you may have a food addiction. Withdrawal symptoms aren’t as well defined from food addiction as they have been for other addictions, but they may include headaches, fatigue, irritability, and acne.
If you think you may be addicted to these or any other substances, getting help is the first step to recovery. Addiction is a complicated and multifaceted thing, and you should know that you don’t have to go it alone.