An addiction is a strong and harmful need to regularly have or do something, and typically we think of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol when discussing these compulsions. These are very common addictions that people battle with each day, but there are millions of different addictions in the world and some of these are very, very strange. People that suffer from these cravings will continue to fulfill their need for them despite the negative consequences, and overcoming an addiction is extremely challenging no matter what it is. Here are 10 of the strangest addictions that people are known to suffer from.
10. Ice Chewing
Although hardly a dangerous or deadly addiction, ice chewing is still an addiction nonetheless and people all around the world have to deal with a compulsion to chew on ice every single day. This is known as pagophagia, and is often an indicator of iron deficiency anemia. Pagophagia is also a form of pica, where people are addicted to eating items which have no nutritional value. In addition to not being a particularly bad addiction, ice chewing is also straightforward to treat as it simply requires treating the iron deficiency through an improved diet or through supplements. However, sometimes ice chewing cravings can come from a developmental disorder or too much stress. It is thought that 2% of American males aged 18+ suffer from pagophagia, whilst 16% of women aged 16 to 19 have it (according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Many people enjoy nothing more than sitting in the sun and getting a tan, but for some people it is more than just a pleasurable experience. Many people suffer from an addiction to tanning, and they will look to feed this addiction either by sitting in the sun or through a tanning booth. It is thought that 50% of the people who love sunbathing have an addiction, whilst 26% would qualify as having a substance-related disorder. People feel a natural high after tanning, and this is because ultraviolet rays cause our bodies to make endorphins, which help to boost our mood. However, there are health risks to frequent tanning as the exposure can cause skin cancers. Addicts will continue to feed their cravings despite this knowledge, and many suffer from withdrawal symptoms (similar to those with drug addictions) when they do not get their fix.
8. Hair Pulling
There are millions of people all around the world that suffer from an impulse-control disorder called trichotillomania, or trich, which is the compulsion to pull your own hair. This is not confined to the hair on top of your head, and those that suffer from it will often find themselves pulling at their eyebrows, eyelashes and arm hair. This can become so bad that they develop bald patches and will actually tear their own hair out, and those that suffer will often feel anxiety until they pull, or even chew, their hair. Whilst addictions and impulse-control orders are technically different, they are also very similar in that they come from feelings of low personal control and those that suffer have difficulty in delaying gratification. Trich is an enormous problem for many people, and often come with other issues such as depression and anxiety.
7. Eating Dirt
There are hundreds of addictions to do with eating, but one of the stranger ones is an addiction to eating dirt. This is known as geophagia, and it is not just dirt which people have a compulsion to eat, but other earthy materials such as coal, chalk and clay. Similarly, pica is a condition where people have cravings for non-food items, and this typically includes paper, paint and even cigarette butts. It is thought that both geophagia and pica are caused by nutritional deficiencies of iron or zinc, and this will be due to a poor diet. Many women also suffer from pica whilst pregnant. In some cultures it is not seen as completely out of the ordinary for people to eat dirt and non-food items, but it isn’t recommended to go around eating everything in sight and your stomach certainly wouldn’t appreciate it.
6. Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic surgery is becoming increasingly more common, but generally this sees somebody undergo one operation to improve an area of their appearance which they were not happy with and felt insecure about. Much like tattoos, some people can’t just have one procedure, however, and come back time and time again to get their fix. It is estimated that 10% of people who have had plastic surgery develop some kind of problem in terms of addiction, and generally this will be as a result of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). BDD is a disorder where you obsess over your appearance and the flaws in how you look, but often these are imagined or exaggerated because they are obsessed over. People suffering from BDD therefore see cosmetic surgery as a solution, but surgery will not be the answer and instead relief is found through therapy and medication.
5. Body Modifications
People often say “you can’t have just one” when it comes to tattoos and piercings, and this is very true for some people. Many people develop an addiction to body modifications, and they get a rush of endorphins whenever they get something new done. Similarly to cosmetic surgery, many people also see it as a way to improve their appearance and become obsessed with making changes, and this too often stems from deeper underlying problems. Many people get daily new piercing and tattoos, and although an addiction, it is also a form of personal expression. There is, however, cause for concern when body modification turns to self mutilation, which is something that would require professional help. With tattoos and piercings becoming less of a big deal, it seems more and more people are getting body modifications, but this does not necessarily mean that they are addicted.
4. Eating Couch Cushions
Adele Edwards from Bradenton, Florida, suffers from a very odd addiction: she can’t stop eating couch cushions. She suffers from pica, causing her to devour couch cushions for the last 21 years. Shockingly, the 31-year-old admitted that in the last year she had “eaten seven sofas.” Doctors have warned her that if she continues it could lead to her death, and the addiction has already landed her in the hospital after she had a blockage in her lower intestine. Pica is often a result of nutritional deficiencies, but it can also stem from stress, and is what appears to have triggered her addiction. For Adele Edwards, it all began when she was just a child and her parents were going through a divorce. Recently though, she began rubbing the cushions in dirt before eating them, and tests showed that she had a serious iron deficiency.
Funerals are dreaded, and people would not typically choose to attend one if they did not know the individual. This is not the case for Luis Squarisi from Brazil, who has developed an addiction to attending funerals. Squarisi has attended every single funeral in his hometown for over 20 years, and he even quit his job to feed his addiction. It all began at the funeral of his father in 1983, and he now attends any funeral he can, despite never having met the person (or friends or family). Despite this, a funeral director said that he has become a local celebrity and he would be missed if he stopped attending the funerals. Somewhat morbidly, Squarisi has admitted that the first thing he does in the morning is to “turn on the radio to find out if anyone has died. If I don’t hear anything I call the hospitals.”
2. Drinking Blood
Blood thirsty vampires on the hunt for fresh meat have been a common theme throughout horror for an eternity, but this is not entirely fiction. There are people who suffer from an addiction to drinking blood, but fortunately you won’t need to arm yourself with wooden stakes and crosses to keep them from your door, as these addicts get their fix from willing donors and animal blood. A tattoo artist from California with the addiction, Michelle, states “I’d always take human blood over animal blood, but I don’t recognize myself as a vampire, I’m someone who just enjoys blood a lot.” She enjoys it so much that she even cooks with it, and will use real blood when making a Bloody Mary. Michelle states that she suffers from headaches and becomes irritable without her fix, which is a common complaint when someone does not feed their addiction.
1. Eating Human Ashes
As this list has demonstrated, addictions often stem from psychological issues and this can include trauma. Casie is a 26-year-old widow, and she was understandably having a very difficult time coming to terms with the sudden death of her husband. After the cremation, she developed an uncontrollable attachment to the ashes, and so much so that she started carrying them around with her everywhere she went. One day, Casie accidentally got some of the ashes on her finger, and decided to lick them off. From this moment, she has had a sad yet utterly bizarre addiction to eating the ashes. She ate around 1 pound in just 2 months, and she has serious concerns that she will finish the ashes and then not know what to do with herself. She admits that they taste like “rotten eggs, sand, and sandpaper,” but that does not put her off.