The Learning Channel (TLC) has a show called "My Strange Addiction" and the addictions are very strange indeed. They include an obsession with eating washing detergent, paper, sniffing gas and fetishes like dressing up as animals or adults living as babies.
Many of these addictions are dangerous and all of them change and lessen the quality of life of the people afflicted. Glass, paper, material and detergent eaters can see their addictions cause physical harm, and those with fetishes like living as animals or babies find themselves alone and ostracized by society.
One notable point with all of these addicts is their inability to form healthy relationships and the self-absorption that all addictions bring. In many episodes, fights about getting their “fix” occur and homes and jobs are strained due to the twenty-four hour nature of any addiction. Not only is therapy needed for these addicts, but often a medical intervention for those who eat enormous amounts of hazardous material.
While these addictions may be extreme and unusual, the addicts themselves are not alone. Many of us have what’s known as “soft addictions” that include shopping, television, internet and even eating. Some are quite strange to many, including spending large amounts of time on games and applications, surfing the internet and spending hours on chat boards, shopping and eating. These soft addictions can cost a fortune to maintain, and credit card balances can grow with little hope of paying them off. Shoppers have closets filled with clothes and shoes that have never been worn or living rooms brimming with knick-knacks that serve little purpose other than gathering dust. Over-eating causes both physical and emotional trauma (and can get serious, quickly) and even incessant television watching sees these soft addicts isolated from friends and family.
Why do so many of us have soft addictions? It’s partly due to our insistence on instant gratification. Having something in our hands, quickly, so we can consume what we want, as soon as we want it. This is seen with over-eaters and shoppers who are willing to pay $50 for a $20 item to be shipped overnight.
Soft addictions also let us hide from real life and relationships in a relatively accepted way. Unlike hard addictions that are almost universally frowned upon, spending days watching television, surfing the internet, tanning or heading to the mall seem normal because everyone partakes in at least one of these activities to some extent - so what harm is a little more?
The harm is the cost, both personally and financially, for all involved. Soft addictions can be helped – some by simply journaling what is being done and when – and who and what is being affected. A journal (along with a frank discussion with loved ones) can be all it takes for a wake-up call.
But for others, both financial and emotional counseling may be in order. If you’re not sure whether your soft activities are addictions or not, talk to your doctor or a counselor and have an honest talk with loved ones.
For more on Addiction, check out EmpowHER addiction section here: https://www.empowher.com/condition/addictions/definition
and feel free join our Addiction support group here: https://www.empowher.com/groups/addiction
Do have have any addictions, either hard or soft? Are they unusual or do you think you are one of many? Tell us your story!
Edited by Shannon Koehle