What we do on an everyday basis, starting with our morning rituals and ending with our sleeping patterns, makes us who we are more than some might be inclined to believe. For it is our actions that define us who we are, and not the elusive image we have created in our minds about who we are. Unknowingly sometimes, we engage in behaviors that seem harmless, but are nonetheless, highly addictive.
1. Drinking Coffee
When the clock starts ringing there is only one thing on our minds: “I need my coffee before I can do anything!”. We use it on an everyday basis indiscriminately, although some people have turned to black or green tea for a milder similar buzz. Its effects are stunning: it will stimulate your central nervous system and metabolism in a matter of minutes after consumption, lasting up to 5 hours. Tasty and efficient, thousands of people drink it every day and with every cup they become more tolerant to it needing higher doses for the same buzz. In many ways, caffeine is a highly commercialized and accepted drug, just like alcohol. Caffeinism is the official name for caffeine dependency; symptoms include nervousness, restlessness, insomnia, headaches and heart palpitations. For those who have been brave enough to give coffee up, the process is painful and discomforting, the withdrawal effects lasting up to 9 days and they are very similar to those experienced with caffeinism.
2. Watching TV Shows
Just like with alcoholism or caffeinism, watching TV shows can be subtly, yet very addictive in the long-run. If when you wake up the morning, your first thought is: “I need to check which TV shows are aired today!” and then you jump to your computer to check, chances are that you are already addicted to at least one show. There is also TV addiction that manifests as the viewer’s compulsive need to turn on the TV without intending to actually watch anything. But TV shows addiction is quite different in that it offers some sort of “high”, excitement and thrill due to the intensity the viewer experiences while receiving his/her drama/fantasy/romance/adventure/comedy daily dose. When confronted with this addiction some people will say that they are watching TV shows to: get their mind off things, to relax, to escape from this world’s limits. Essentially, TV shows are addictive because they offer people the chance to project themselves in another reality where things are more interesting, in a dream world they wish they could inhabit.
3. Using Lip Balm
No one would have thought that such a daily routine as applying lip balm can be addictive. Actually, as with many other commercialized products, lip balms contain ingredients which if administered in any other form can kill you. Many lip balm users claim that they get a buzz from using it and this is easily explained by the menthol, camphor and phenol that most contain. Phenol, however, is the real culprit in this mix: it is normally used as an embalming agent, known to be highly corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Also, if injected with just one gram it can cause instant death. The catch is that these ingredients will actually irritate your lips thus requiring you to apply more and more. So, while you are trying to moisturize and heal, lip balm does not only harm your lips by keeping them dry, but it also creates an addiction that you are seldom aware of.
4. Biting Nails
Stress, frustration, not enough time to sleep or rest, pressure and responsibilities – if you throw all these in the same bowl you get an explosive cocktail Molotov bound to drive you to your wits ends. The challenges and problems we are confronted with every day are the sources of our fears and anxieties, leading to sleepless nights or even insomnia, nervousness, irritability, lack of focus and they keep building up spirally. One of the things that we sometimes unconsciously resort to relieve some of that anxiety is biting our nails. This action, also known as a behavioral tic or onychophagia, is meant to induce a soothing feeling because it temporarily confirms that we are still able to do something even when we are mentally stuck. Not many people know this, but nail biting is classified as an impulse control disorder in DSM-IV-R, and it falls in the same category as other body-focused repetitive behaviors such as: dermatillomania (skin picking), dermatophagia (skin biting), and trichotillomania (the urge to pull out hair).
5. Playing Video Games
There is much public and scientific debate on whether video games addiction should be classified as a real addiction in the DSM and treated as one. On the one hand, studies show that approximately 3.0% of the game players experience the symptoms of pathological gaming, some of them being reported to have died after playing days on end without eating or drinking. On the other hand, recent research points out that gaming is meant to give the players the means to save the world, while they learn the habits of heroes. It is suggested that playing video games trains our problem-solving skills, thus being more beneficial than harmful.
After going through all these daily addictive behaviors, which one of them does it seem to you less likely to take over your personality and develop into a real disorder?