Can you put that smartphone down or are you glued to it constantly? You are probably carrying it every minute of the day and night, including weekends, and then get hooked into addressing work issues. Scientists are looking into whether or not your favorite gadget is turning you into a digital junkie.
Of course, there’s that cup of coffee to jolt you awake in the mornings. Trying to cut it out of your life may leave you anxious for a fix and nursing a serious headache called “withdrawal”.
One of my favorites, chocolate, is really hard to give up. All foods high in carbs, fats and sugar can affect your brain just like drugs do. The sweet tooth can get out of control and lead to other health problems.
Possibly really looking for some dopamine to get that feel-good-chemical for your brain might lead to excessive shopping. It could also mean you have impulse-control problems or anxiety issues.
A bigger addiction for as many as 8 million Americans is their gambling habits. That rush provides your brain a hit of dopamine and makes you happy – for a while, or at least until your finances, job and family life are in jeopardy.
Addiction to the sun and ultraviolet (UV) spectrum of sunlight can make you feel so good that you might risk sunburns, blisters and skin cancer, or some might be obsessive-compulsive or have body dysmorphic disorder.
Some people can’t get enough nips and tucks because many have “body dysmorphic disorders” and are obsessed with defects that only they themselves can see. This is caused by some of the same brain chemicals that play a role in addiction.
Exercise can help you get over addictions as long as you don’t get hooked on the activity itself. Exercise helps your brain learn, which can speed recovery but watch the excessive endorphin-fueled runner’s high if ill or injured.
Spending so much time on Facebook and Twitter can be addictive. New studies show 10% of social media users are really hooked. This pace of posts affects your brain the same way that cocaine does. Isn’t that scary?
If you find you are looking at porn all the time or can’t stop having sex, you could be addicted. Maybe you just have a strong sex drive but there is a thing called hypersexual disorder and your brain could be wired like that of someone with a drug or gambling problem.
Anything that alters your mood can become addicting. It begins as self-medication to help you manage pain. The reward you get becomes something you can’t live without.
Experts don’t all agree about how far similarities might go between shopping or texting compared to being hooked on drugs or alcohol. It may be good for us to just sick back and monitor our habits and see if we are truly addicted to any of the above possibilities.
–Dr Fredda Branyon