In the bustling chaos of our everyday lives, it’s easy to overlook the subtle chains that bind us. We often associate addiction with glaring vices like alcohol, drugs, or gambling. However, there exists a realm of addictions that stealthily infiltrate our lives, unnoticed and unspoken.
One Redditor asked, “What is an addiction people have but don’t know about?” Many users commented on this thread, and we have picked the top 20 addictions for you!
This person shared, “Shopping/ spending addiction. My mother-in-law has it and just thinks she can’t pass up a good deal. The store clerks know her by name and she buys so much stuff that she has bought the same thing twice for my kids. It’s honestly so sad.”
Someone else replied, “Back when I was a teenager, I read a story in one of those teen magazines about a girl who was addicted to shopping. She had gotten into a ridiculous amount of debt twice, first time her parents bailed her our, 2nd time the said she was on her own.”
It’s an addiction, a constant need to buy stuff, even if you don’t really need it.
2. External Validation
We’re glued to what others think about us. It’s like our self-worth depends on how many likes we get on Instagram or how many compliments we receive.
Someone wrote, “Earlier this week, my mother sent me like three separate messages about a memory picture of us which she shared on Facebook within a few hours ( I was busy and not replying). Without me saying anything, she arrived at the conclusion that I am ashamed of her, because I didn’t “like” the said picture. Then said it makes her sad when I don’t like her pictures.”
Another added, “I didn’t care about external validation until it was drummed into me at a young age to care what people think, now I’m old and back to not caring; it’s been a wild ride.”
3. Toxic Relationships
Toxic relationships – we’ve all been there. Sometimes, we stay in friendships or romantic relationships that are downright toxic.
One said, “Toxic relationships. People get hooked on the obscene level of drama, and they think that makes it somehow ‘more real’ than other people’s healthy relationships.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “I was 100% addicted to my toxic relationship. I thought she cared, because she said kind things and love bombed me. But as it slowly started to fade I realized I had to leave, even thought I knew I was addicted to the drama. My relationship now is normal and almost seemed boring at first but therapy made me realize being boring/doing boring things is normal.”
We all do it, but for some, it’s a lifestyle. Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow, right?
This person shared, “Procrastination. Making lists of things you should do and avoiding tasks. It’s oddly comforting.”
Someone else replied, “It is, and at the same time you(g) have this guilt riding in the back of your head. The guilt goes away when you put in a good day’s worth of work on what you’re actually supposed to do, but man, that’s hard.”
Doomscrolling – ever heard of it? It’s that endless scrolling through bad news on your phone. We’re addicted to the drama, the disasters, and the controversies.
Someone wrote, “Currently sitting in my car, procrastinating going to my room by doomscrolling.”
Another added, “I had to look it up. By Google’s definition, it’s “the practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle.”
6. Mobile Screen
Whether it’s texting, gaming, or mindlessly scrolling, our phones have become an extension of ourselves. It’s an addiction we don’t even notice anymore.
One said, “Mobile screen addiction. I was late teens when I got my first smartphone and still struggle hard af with the endless entertainment. Can’t imagine how bad it’d be if I’d grown up with one in my hand”
Someone else replied, “I think most people under age of ~30 would admit to be addicted. People above ~40 have no idea how addicted they are. My (27) dad (65) goes through the entirety of TikTok every day and still talks about “our generation’s” being too much on the phones.”
7. Social Media
This person shared, “When you exit an app and then click on it a second later.”
Another added, “Yeah, it consumes way too much time and isolates people from reality. It’s only good in moderation”
We check our socials more times than we’d like to admit, right? I, for one, am guilty as charged!
Someone wrote, “Sugar, And it’s in everything.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “If you’re in the US, this goes beyond sweets. Bread has sugar in it, soft drinks have sugar in them, TEA and Juices have A LOT of Sugar in them.”
We crave it, we binge on it, and we don’t even realize it’s controlling our taste buds and our moods.
9. Toxic Positivity
One said, “Toxic positivity. Not everything that happens is good or inspirational or ‘makes you stronger’. I went through this when my wife died in 2020 and had to listen to people telling me to not be sad and that “she’d want me to be happy.” She still died at 41, cancer and I am allowed to be upset about it. Negative emotions are real emotions and invalidating them with mushy, gooey, positivity is toxic.”
Someone else replied, “i cannot stand toxic positivity. Not only is it harmful in circumstances like yours where they don’t want to allow you the space to grieve and feel your feelings, but it’s just basically saying “express your feelings! But only in ways that are pleasant to me.”
It’s an addiction to forced smiles and suppressing real emotions.
Daydreaming – it sounds harmless, right? But for some, it’s a way to escape reality a bit too much. It’s living in a fantasy world instead of dealing with what’s right in front of us.
This person shared, “I think I used to be addicted to daydreaming. I would be in class and would do bursts of work so I could stare at my screen and escape into my head for long periods of time, pretending to be reading an article.
Whenever I wasn’t daydreaming, I would be thinking about going back into my head, what I could daydream about next, trying to engineer a situation where I could zone out and not look weird. All day every day revolves around trying to daydream as much as possible so I could escape real life.”
Another added, “There is something called “maladaptive daydreaming” that describes how some people create whole “daydreams” with continuous characters and storylines that can become very elaborate.”
We start our day with a cup of coffee, maybe even two, thinking we need it to function. But before we know it, we’re downing multiple energy drinks and lattes, and we can’t survive a day without our caffeine fix.
Someone wrote, “I used to be a heavy coffee drinker and when I quit… The withdrawal sucked but after that it was like ALL my problems went away. I had more energy overall, way less anxiety, better bladder, slept better, etc.”
Someone else replied, “People say they need gallons of coffee to stay awake and that they’re constantly exhausted but that’s because it runs through you so fast that you’re just constantly crashing, the coffee is MAKING you exhausted, not fixing it.”
12. Skin Picking
Skin picking – ever caught yourself picking at your skin absentmindedly? It’s bizarre how we can get hooked on something as simple as picking at a pimple. It becomes a mindless, repetitive behavior, almost like a weird coping mechanism.
One said, “Skin picking. Edit: wow… I didn’t know so many people suffered from this! It was a symptom of my undiagnosed OCD since I was a kid, only I thought it was normal until my diagnosis because I did it my whole life. More awareness needs to be brought about it”
Another added, “My good friend, dermatillomania! My parents always scolded me for it; I just figured I was weird and needed to have better self-control. Imagine my surprise when I found out its a legit medical diagnosis, and I could’ve been getting treatment for it years earlier.”
Anger can be addictive. Some people get a rush out of being mad all the time.
This person shared, “I’m surprised nobody said anger when we have “entertainment” networks left and right. Watching Fox News when they make stuff up and scream vile rhetoric the hit their viewers get is equivalent to a hit of cocaine. Every time someone like Alex Jones comes up and says, “These GAY LIBERALS and their SOCIALIST GLOBALIST AGENDA” it is like 6 hits right there in one sentence.”
Someone else replied, “Outrage gives you your dopamine hits…it’s totally an addiction. This is a great comment…my uncle has the sweetest life in the world, but the only thing that truly makes him happy is being angry about everything.”
Food can also be a source of hidden addiction. Emotional eating, binge eating, or mindless snacking – these behaviors often go unnoticed and dismissed as mere habits.
Someone wrote, “This is a huge one. People have many vices which can turn into addiction/dependency and used as an unhealthy coping mechanism. For some reason, though, food addiction is not treated the same way alcoholism is, for example.”
Another added, “If you’re 400 pounds and gorge yourself on food when you’re feeling sad, that’s an addiction. Just like alcohol, it can immensely damage your health, interfere with daily activities and can result in an early death.
However, because food is more normalized than drugs/alcohol and is REQUIRED for survival, unlike drugs/alcohol, so people tend to think of it differently than substances. I feel bad for people with food addictions, as that’s something I’ve never struggled with, but as a recovering alcoholic, I see the same exact patterns play out.”
One said, “Weed lol “I can stop whenever I want ‘lol suuuuure’”
Someone else replied, “People who’s entire life revolves around weed… So boring.”
It starts as something recreational, but then it sneaks into everyday life, and before you know it, you can’t function without it.
Makeup is an art, a way to express yourself. But for some, it becomes an addiction, a mask they can’t take off.
This person shared, “Makeup. Not that it’s wrong to wear (i do pretty much every day), but if you try to go without it for a little while, you’ll figure out how difficult it is.”
Another added, “My mom literally can’t go to the store without makeup on. She even finds it hard to go to her parents house without makeup bc she might pass someone she knows on the 5 minute drive. It’s honestly really hard to watch because she is such a beautiful woman and taught me so much about self-confidence.”
17. Eating Ice
Eating ice – yes, you read that correctly. Chewing on ice might seem harmless, but for some, it becomes a habit they can’t break.
Someone wrote, “Addiction to eating ice. My friend had this when he was younger. Apparently, it is called pagophobia and is a symptom of being iron deficient.”
Someone else replied, “My wife chewed ice for three years straight and was given the great news of having ten teeth removed.”
Work – sounds crazy, right? But some of us are addicted to work.
This person shared, “Work. I know, many people hat work, but for many it plays a much too big role in their lives”
Another person agreed to it and said, “I was one of those people whose career was a huge part of their identity. When I eventually left vet nursing, I had a whole identity crisis.”
It often starts as social drinking, but then it becomes a way to cope. Before you know it, you’re reaching for the bottle more often than you should.
Someone wrote, “Alcoholism. For a seriously vast amount of the general population”
Another added, “No one ever talks about the life-threatening withdrawals, or crippling anxiety, or liver and kidney failure that comes with drinking too much.”
We binge-watch shows, episode after episode, and suddenly, we can’t imagine our evenings without it. It’s an addiction that lulls us into a sedentary lifestyle, keeping us glued to the screen for hours on end.
This person shared, “TV. They watch so much but don’t realize they are addicted to shallow entertainment. There are so many hobbies and things to do yourself, but many people prefer to watch TV.”
Someone else replied, “It’s an easy addiction to fall into because it’s so normalized, and it can be hard to change the cycle you are stuck in. You come home from work, turn on the TV to relax, and then that’s your evening. Trying to break that cycle is really hard to do…it’s even harder when you can binge entire seasons of TV shows so easily.”
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