People often think of illegal drugs or alcohol when addiction is mentioned. Indeed, many cases of addiction involve substance abuse disorder, and alcoholism and drug addiction have similar effects. This creates a stereotype that all addicts suffer brain damage and dangerous behaviors.
But other addictions don’t involve anything illegal yet can destroy people’s lives as badly as substance abuse does. Worse, children and teens can be at risk for developing such addictions.
To better understand the nature of addictions, let’s discuss their types, then get to know some less-known addictions.
The Two Types of Addiction
Most experts recognize two types of addiction: chemical and behavioral.
Chemical addiction involves substance use, such as drugs and alcohol. Behavioral addiction only involves compulsive behaviors, which people can stop doing despite having no real benefits.
Less-known Chemical Addictions
- Cough and Cold Medicine Addiction
If you think it’s safe to store cough and cold medicine within your child’s reach, think again. Although these kinds of drugs are generally safe, they are prone to misuse for various reasons. For one thing, cough and cold syrup are often sweetened, making them attractive to kids with a sweet tooth.
Even adults can be addicted to cough and cold medicine. Several of these drugs contain psychotropic ingredients, meaning mind-altering. Cough medicines with dextromethorphan (DXM), in particular, should be used with caution. DXM acts on the brain receptors as hallucinogenic drugs do. As such, misusing DXM can result in hallucinations, “out-of-body” experiences, loss of coordination, nausea, high blood pressure, and other health issues.
Be careful around prescription cough medicines as well. Some of them may contain codeine, an opioid that attaches to the same receptors heroin does. Hence, misusing drugs with codeine may slow down the heart rate and breathing. Overdosing on codeine may lead to death.
Addiction to cough and cold medicine isn’t unheard of. But it’s not often talked about in schools and other educational settings. Cough and cold medicine addicts are also qualified for addiction recovery treatment. That means it can also be as bad as meth, cocaine, or heroin addiction.
- Nicotine Addiction
A chain smoker could be secretly struggling with nicotine addiction. Nicotine in tobacco products is highly addictive, making cigarettes hard to quit. Even smoking cessation products, like nicotine lozenges, gums, and patches, can be addictive, although the risks are low.
A sure sign of nicotine addiction is extreme dependence and withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking. It’s treated with medications coupled with counseling, group therapy, or home care. Alternative or natural treatments, like acupuncture, essential oils, and hypnosis may also help.
Less-known Behavioral Addictions
- Food Addiction
If you tune in to TLC’s “My 600-lb Life”, you’d know that the participants’ morbid obesity wasn’t simply caused by a sweet tooth or a tendency to gain weight fast. Rather, they all struggle with food addiction. Their condition makes them capable of devouring several servings of food in unimaginable portions. Food addiction isn’t necessarily the same as binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating. The latter conditions often cause shame or guilt after eating. On the other hand, food addiction causes a “high” after eating, as one would experience after taking drugs.
Sadly, people with food addiction often face stigma and judgment for their weight. This prevents them from getting the help they need. Food addiction is totally treatable, although the process will be uneasy. Some sufferers are checked into a rehab facility so that their diet can be watched 24/7. They may also undergo counseling to determine the root cause of their food addiction.
- Gaming Addiction
Loving online or video games is one thing. Addiction to it is another. No one should romanticize excessive fondness for online or video games because it fails to increase awareness about the serious effects of gaming disorder.
Whether this is a real mental health issue or not is still debated. But we can’t deny that some gamers are overly attached to their games, to the point that they forget basic self-care. They would skip meals, baths, and even schoolwork for games.
In severe but rare cases, gamers have died because they binged for days on end.
People with gaming disorders can seek counseling to curb their impulses to play. They can also find new hobbies that won’t trigger their addictive personalities.
Shedding light on these addictions can help us be more conscious about our behaviors. It will also allow us to check on our loved ones without judgment and criticism. Addiction is a serious disease that isn’t cured by lectures and stigma. People with addictions need help, so let’s be the ones to take them on their healing journey.