15 Everyday Addictions People May Not Even Realize They Have — Do You?

As someone in recovery, it always amazes me how many people walk around judging people with substance abuse disorders when they have their own addictions. I remember being told that if I didn’t want to be an addict, it was as simple as not using substances.

People sincerely believe that stupidity — as they puff away, sipping their mandatory daily caffeinated beverages, while face first in their phones. Addiction is the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. Here is a look at several everyday addictions many people walk around without realizing they have. Do you?

1. Phone

cell phone addiction
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Sure, millions of people acknowledge they are addicted to their cell phones. However, millions more are in complete denial about it. You get dopamine hits from many things on your cellular device, including social media and games. Dopamine activates the reward pathway in your brain, leading you to desire these activities more. It’s science.

2. Social Media

Beautiful Muslim social media validation
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Speaking of social media, many people do not realize how addicted they are to their social media platforms. These folks say things like: “I am only on Facebook to get my news. “Or those who believe because they rarely post, they aren’t addicted to the doomsday scroll.

3. Stress

stress headache
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Did you ever consider you may be addicted to the stress in your life? Integrative neuroscientist Heidi Hanna told CNBC: “Stress can cause a natural high by activating the arousal and attention centers in our nervous system, which, if prolonged, can be as addictive as drugs.”

4. Misery

evil glare mean
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“Misery loves company” is more scientific than a simple expression. Like everything else, the drama and fighting cause the brain to have dopamine spikes and crave more. It can lead to a cycle of dysfunctional patterns and relationships.

Clinical psychology researchers Martha H. Pieper, PhD., and William J. Pieper, M.D. state: “People who have an acquired but unrecognized need to cause themselves unhappiness often come from stressful, abusive, or highly dysfunctional childhoods.”

5. Shopping

online shopping
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Shopping is an addiction that many people indulge in without realizing it is an addiction. Online shopping and targeted ads have created a more prevalent problem. Do you find yourself needing to spend money every day? Are you always searching for the next best deal? Does your shopping put a financial strain on you? You may have a problem.

Have you ever heard of the mental health disorder Compulsive buying disorder (CBD)? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is characterized by “Excessive shopping cognitions and buying behavior that leads to distress or impairment.” This disorder has a lifetime prevalence of 5.8% in the U.S.

6. Food

Food addiction
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

It’s safe to say that many people have an unhealthy relationship with food. As one who eats emotionally, I can attest that it is challenging. Research shows that for many people, the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain triggered by drugs like cocaine and heroin are also activated by food, especially highly palatable foods rich in sugar, fat, and salt.

7. Anger

angry woman
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Do you know what else releases the feel-good hormone dopamine? Anger. Rage addiction is more common than people realize; many don’t even know it’s a thing. However, it’s real and a vicious cycle for those stuck in it. Did you know that being an “Angerholic” was a real thing?

8. Sugar

eating spoonful of sugar
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Sugar is in everything from low-fat yogurt to ketchup. But did you know that sugar releases opioids and dopamine and can be as addicting as cocaine? More people are physically addicted to sugar than they know. Withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings, headaches, bloating, and irritability.

9. Caffeine

coffee addiction overworked
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While millions of people will admit to being addicted to caffeine, it’s not an addiction that anyone takes seriously. Caffeine is a stimulant to the central nervous system and is easy to become dependent on. Withdrawals include headache, fatigue, decreased energy, decreased alertness, drowsiness, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and feeling foggy.

10. Validation

High school football
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Validation goes hand in hand with using social media, craving the likes and comments (acknowledgments) that validate you. However, validation addiction can also appear in places like school, sports, and the workplace. The psychological condition of approval addiction describes the unhealthy need for validation and acceptance from others.

11. Adult Entertainment

porn addiction computer
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

An alarming amount of people have addictions to the adult entertainment industry. People rationalize it, especially regarding men. For example, the number of times I have heard someone say: “All men watch” corn with a capital P. However, women are equally consumed by the addiction.

People who suffer this normalized addiction eventually are no longer enamored by the same scenes. Like any substance you abuse, people addicted to watching adult films require something different and more frequent use to achieve the same “high” as tolerance builds up. Often, this reality leads people to spiral into darker, more perverse areas damaging to themselves and their relationships.

12. Alcohol

older woman drinking wine
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Alcoholism is one of the most commonly denied addictions. People think if they do not get drunk daily, they are not dependent, but that is not true. More people are functioning alcoholics than they realize. Alcohol is socially acceptable and available everywhere, so this addiction is difficult for many to control.

13. Weed

woman with weed marijuana
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While I agree that weed can be medicinal, that doesn’t mean it’s not addictive. I know the 420 culture will argue otherwise. However, if you have to indulge that habit every day and/or all day, that is the very definition of addiction.

Far too many people are in complete denial, while others genuinely do not realize they are addicted. As someone who has gone through terrible withdrawals from it, I can assure you it’s an addictive substance, and some people seriously believe that it is not.

14. Other People’s Lives

women gossiping
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Sure, people can become addicted to doomscrolling and comparing their lives with others, but it doesn’t stop there. Sometimes, people can become so addicted to other people’s lives that they talk about nothing but other people.

15. Exercise

Overhead squat
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Sometimes, people don’t realize they are addicted to exercise because they justify exercise as good and necessary. Orthorexia (exercise addiction), like the others, creates endorphin releases that your body becomes dependent on.

After a while, it takes more and more to achieve the “high” you received the last time you worked out. Withdrawals include irritability, restlessness, sleep problems, and anxiety.


Website | + posts

Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and Jesus.