The lexical definition of addiction goes like this, ‘Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance.’ It is a state of dependence on or commitment to a habit, practice, or habit-forming substance to the extent that its cessation causes trauma, depression, panic, anxiety. Well, that explicitly evinces the disastrous nature of addiction to anything. Among other signs, the classic hallmarks of any kind of addiction encompass unfettered use of substance, or involvement in an activity, persistent usage or involvement despite serious repercussions, uncanny risk-taking, and denial. Initially the substance intake or engagement in an activity is pleasurable, but gradually it becomes compulsive and intrusive in daily work responsibilities. Distance from one’s subject of addiction may lead one to irritability and cranky nature. Addiction entails a psychological and physical component; it is when a habit becomes untameable. It is beyond voluntary control. While substance abuse has been an age-old addiction, newer and uncanny forms of addictions have surfaced. Who would have thought that people would get addicted to and obsessed with online surfing? Addictions manifest themselves in forms that are so unconventional that they elude even the slightest suspicion. But then remember what William S. Burroughs said “Whether you sniff it, smoke it, eat it, or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction.”
Well, here is a list of the ten most addictive things in our times:
Bibliophiles are obsessed with their books. They can go on hours without eating if they have a book in hand. Their days are incomplete without reading for a few hours. They get high by sniffing books.
They devise pretexts and excuses to avoid going to parties or places so that they can warm up to a book. They experience book hangovers. They get maniac at the bookstores. We do realize that this is an innocuous addiction, but an obsession nevertheless. After all it is said, “Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.” — Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
Oftentimes referred to as ‘negaholism’, negative thinking is nothing less than a curse. Negativity-addicts or pessimists as they are better known as, seek out the negative aspect in everything. They tend to complain a lot, they take criticism bitterly, and are always dpressed as well as depressing to be around. The human brain has a tendency to respond more strongly to negative stimuli. People who always see the dark side of all things, entirely neglecting the fact that there’s a brighter side too, end up in the dark place. They only fall further in the abyss of darkness and gloom. There is no cure for an obsession with negative thinking, except maybe reading self-help literature and attending life coaching workshops, but then the unbeatable pessimist can find faults even there.
This might seem strange and unusual, even ludicrous, but it so happens that our favourite music starts giving us high every time we hear it. While such an addiction may not prove lethal or dangerous, it lures us to spend lots of time and resources on getting musical experiences. More or less, it works on the same principles as cocaine.
Couch potatoes, or couch surfers are compelled y this overwhelming urge to watch television programmes ceaselessly. Some might disguise it under the veil of fandom, or having nothing else to do, or just lazing around, but in reality they are paying a great opportunity cost for the time spent in front of the screen surfing through the channels often aimlessly.
We are all well aware of this breed of shopaholics. They have a tendency to go splurging on shopping sprees until their credit cardlimit is exceeded or till their pockets are empty. While they may do this to fight depression and reality, which is how they justify their action, there is more to it than meets the eyes. When someone indulges in shopping, The body releases endorphins that stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain, making them happy and reinforcing their shopping habit.
‘I was a workaholic. I never stopped. I lived in fifth gear. I bought cars. I invested in stocks. I made more money than I had ever imagined.’, Mitch Albom admitted, and it was a sad confession. Workaholism is not the same as being passionate about one’s work, or dedicated towards it! Workaholics, in stark contradiction to this, find reasons to work and tasks to perform even when there is no real need. They lose track of time. One breed of workaholics may be performance addicts while others may be craving for bouts of ceaselessly working. It is not just about working from the early hours of dawn to the wee hours of midnight but as much about getting excited by huge workloads.
A primary component of coffee, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. Excessive caffeine intake spells dependence on it, and that consequently means withdrawal symptom like headaches, nausea, vomiting. However, the negative impact of caffeine is more often than not, overlooked because it a widely-consumed and socially accepted drug. In fact, ‘caffeine use disorder’ is recognized as a major health concern now a days. The difficulty in abandoning its consumption is a sign of grave addiction which may have repercussions in the future.
The internet addiction is still in its infancy stage if seen according to the duration for which it has been around. However, if seen by the magnitude, the startling fact is that internet is slowly becoming the #1 addiction. People have become slaves to gadgets and technology, and these things have become so ubiquitous while simultaneously indispensible. One click leads to another and there is no shortage of interesting, or tempting or enticing stuff to be found on the world wide web. As adeptly remarked by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, “The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free.” And the sad part is, we do not realize having fallen a victim to this addiction until we experience withdrawal symptoms after being cut off from social networks for long.
“That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.” How precise was he when Charles Bukowski wrote these words.
Whether a person drinks at a social gathering, at a business conclave, if there is a compulsive urge to consume liquor, the person is in the throes of alcoholism. The fact that it is readily available and legal after a certain age does not help either. Family history, medication, and depression may be the larger issues in the backdrop of alcohol addiction.
The most addictive drugs include heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD or the carcinogenic nicotine.These drugs render short-lived pleasure which viciously coerces the addict to take them in larger quantities. Cocaine is ingested in binges which multiplies the probability of addiction manifold. Nicotine is the reason people get addicted to smoking and letting go becomes difficult. Of the 4000 chemicals introduced into one’s body in a drag of cigarette, nicotine is the most addictive. Nicotine assaults the pleasure centers of the brain, and it becomes hard to beat the addiction despite volumes of evidence being churned out regarding the malaise that it breeds.