Top 10 Common Types of Addiction

Script written by Sean Harris.

Addictive behavior is relatively common in the population; but how do you know if you have an addiction? Whether it’s too much sex or porn, gambling, or even video games, you can be addicted to pretty much anything. WatchMojo counts down ten of the most common behavioral addictions you can have.

Special thanks to our users AXHP, 7GreenHornet, Milan Alleman, EmJay, Ronan Vrooland and Charlie Palmer for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20Common%20Addictions

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Script written by Sean Harris.

Top 10 Common Types of Addiction


It may be fun at first, but it can be near impossible to stop once you’ve started! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 common addictions!

For this list, we’ve ranked addictions that affect many people in everyday life. We’re focusing on those based on legal activities though, so we’re saying no to drugs.

#10: Exercise

Some of us fear the gym, but others are a little too fond of it. Exercise addiction, a form of behavioral addiction, is the compulsive engagement in and irrational dependence on physical exercise. For an addict there’s no run long enough, and no lift heavy enough. It might sound like an enviable addiction, but this amount of exercise is not good for your health! Exercise addicts regularly suffer injury - which they often ignore - and they’re more prone to eating disorders, serious illness, and can even die as a result of their actions. It’s good to work out, just remember to take time out too.

#9: Shopping

Shopping isn’t always as fun as it seems on TV. A compulsive need to buy things and spend money - even if you don’t have it to spend; addictive shopping is more than just heading to the mall on the weekend. Addicts shop whenever and wherever they can, and often hide their purchases from friends and family. The Internet provides unlimited opportunities to get your fix as well. $335 billion worth of online sales took place in the US in 2015, and analysts are predicting $523 billion by 2020. Not everyone online is an addict, but the statistics show how easy it is to get hooked. It’s no wonder that ‘retail therapy’ is now a legitimate reason to see a therapist.

#8: Video Games

We’ve all struggled to turn off an addictive video game, but some gamers can’t switch off, period. Video games have had their fair share of bad press, with links made between gaming and obesity, insomnia, depression and neurological disorders. People have even died due to obsessive gaming. Notable cases include South Korean Seungseob Lee, who died in 2005 after playing StarCraft practically continuously for 50 hours, and American Gregg J. Kleinmark, who pled guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter after his twins drowned in a bath while he was preoccupied with his Game Boy Advance. While these are extreme cases, for addicts there’s no such thing as ‘game over’, only ‘try again’.

#7: Internet

In many ways, the Internet can feed into many additions, but Internet Addiction Disorder is a problem in its own right. When people spend disproportionate amounts of time online, to the point that their real life lives are affected, neglected or ignored, then they could be an Internet addict. The rise of social media has seen the emergence of cyber-relationship addiction, as increasing numbers choose Facebook friends and online avatars over their real-life families and friends. So-called ‘information overload’ is another strand of IAD, which sees sufferers compulsively collecting statistics and knowledge from the web. Clearly, the Internet is a wonderful thing – but it isn’t the only thing.

#6: Pornography

The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” does not list pornography as a ‘behavioral addiction’ as of mid-2017, but there is increasing pressure for it to be officially recognized as one. With the rise of the Internet, the cybersex industry has become very big business, with five porn sites appearing in the Alexa 100 list of most popular websites in the world. But while some indulge in porn on occasion, others are hooked to the point where real-world relationships are damaged. Addicts often report a sense of social isolation as one of the trade-offs of their habit, as well as depression, sexual dysfunction and low self esteem. Cybersexual addiction can also distort expectations of actual sex, as users increasingly see porn as the norm.

#5: Sex

From online to the bed, couch, or the back seat of a Toyota Corolla... Most people agree that sex is a wonderful, enjoyable and natural experience but, you can always have too much of a good thing. Outed celeb sex addicts have placed sex addiction under the media magnifying glass, but the problem goes beyond the rich and famous. Sex addiction became a thing in the 1970s, as a kind of offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous, as AA members applied a similar 12-step program to serial infidelity. Compulsive sex and uncontrollable urges for sexual activity can wreck lives and relationships, so being a ‘sexaholic’ isn’t usually as great as it sounds.

#4: Gambling

As one of the only behavioral addictions specifically named in the DSM, problem gambling, or ludomania, takes more from the addict than just their money – although that is the primary concern. According to the Manual of Mental Disorders, recurrent gambling behavior can result in restlessness, irritability, loss of concentration, loss of motivation, and a tendency to lie. As addicts continually return to the card table, slot machine or betting shop, the so-called ‘vicious cycle’ of addiction is especially obvious here – and it’s a cycle that has ensnared a lot of people. According to British studies, an estimated 350 thousand people in Britain are gambling addicts, spending up to £7 billion every year.

#3: Caffeine

Many people like a cup of coffee in the morning. But then there’s the mid-morning coffee break, a can of cola with lunch, tea at your desk, an energy drink on the way home … In fact, some people are never more than an hour away from their next caffeine boost. According to the FDA, over 80% of Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis, while CNBC reports that coffee is a $30 billion industry, and Smithsonian describes caffeine as the ‘world’s most popular psychoactive’ drug. Addictive, and a stimulant enabler that can prompt withdrawal symptoms, many experts agree that caffeine has a lot of the features of an illicit drug – the only difference is that it’s culturally acceptable almost worldwide.

#2: Cigarettes / Tobacco

Not every addiction has obvious dangers, but the risks associated with smoking are well documented. We’ve known for over half a century that smoking kills, and we’re increasingly aware of the problems it can cause those around us. Yet, according to the American Heart Association, almost 45 million Americans smoke, and statistics link almost 1 in 5 deaths in the US every year to cigarettes. In the 1960s, 42% of the population smoked. Today, despite the many warnings, around 15% of the American population just can’t say no to nicotine. It may be an addiction on the wane, but it’s still one of the world’s worst habits.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- TV
- Food
- Work

#1: Alcohol

Whether you’ve got something to celebrate, sorrows to drown, or things to forget, there’s always a place for alcohol. Or so it seems. But, while you won’t find answers at the bottom of a glass, you might find addiction. Studies show around 12% of Americans are dependent on booze, while British males hover around 9% and British females at 4%. All day sippers and full on bingers both face serious consequences, including death, with the CDC reporting excessive alcohol intake contributing to 88,000 deaths a year. A night on the town is fun, but when you spend your hangovers craving your next drink, it’s a thirst that’s difficult to quench, and an addiction that’s hard to beat.
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