25 Strange Addictions That Are Shockingly Real

Posted by , Updated on December 5, 2023

It’s important to remember that addiction is a mental illness. Some of these addictions may make you think that people are just doing this for attention, but people can become addicted to almost anything. Whatever lights up the reward center of the brain is something people can become addicted to.

That’s why many people binge-eat crappy food or drink too much, or…uh…pull hair out of shower drains. It makes their brains make the chemicals for happiness and joy, they associate that weird thing with happiness and joy, and addiction is born. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t…weird. Here are 25 Strange Addictions That Are Shockingly Real.



Drinking Human Blood

vampire paintingSource: http://www.medicaldaily.com

A woman named Julia Caples from Pennsylvania has drunk human blood every day for the last 30 years, sometimes drinking up to half a gallon a month. Yes, she’s goth. Why did you have to ask? She claims she’s addicted to it, and it makes her feel alive and keeps her beautiful. On the one hand, that cannot possibly be good for you. On the other hand, she’s probably not anemic. Note: Don’t drink human blood. Prion disease is no joke.



shoppingSource: http://crehab.org

This addiction is actually a medically recognized addiction with it’s own name – Oniomania. While it’s easy to laugh it up, or laugh at these people, they literally do not have control over their lives and go into crippling debt for shiny things. It can sometimes stem from depression or feelings of inadequacy, and it is treatable. If you’re going into debt for things you want but don’t need, hiding purchases from your family, and feel the “need” to buy something every day, even if it’s online, you may want to consider your true motivations.



runnerSource: http://health.howstuffworks.com

While it’s probably not the WORST addiction to have, an addiction to exercise is still an addiction, and it still has consequences – like continuing to work out despite an injury, obsessing over caloric intake and daily weight, and strain on relationships and schoolwork or job performance. These addicts sometimes work out over 2-3 hours a day, which is a lot of cardio and strain on your body. Some estimates say that up to 10% of high performance runners and body builders are addicted to exercise. While sometimes this stems from a need to be in control, it can all be as simple as an addiction to the “high” we get after intense workouts.



tanning boothSource: http://crehab.org

Yep. A tanning addiction is actually defined, and here it is – someone who lies out in the sun or visits a tanning salon more than eight to ten times a month. You can actually have withdraw symptoms if you stop tanning. But you know what’s worse than withdraw symptoms? Cancer. And also looking like you’re 75 when you’re 40.


Drinking Pee

cold-glass-of-lemonadeSource: http://www.nydailynews.com

A woman in her 50’s who chooses to only be known by her first name, Carrie, drinks her own pee. She also washes her eyes, sinuses, and teeth with her urine. She claims it tastes like water, and she has no intention of stopping.


Pulling Hair

hairSource: http://health.howstuffworks.com

Compulsive hair pulling, or trichotillomania (often shortened to trich) is an impulse control disorder, where people have an overwhelming urge to pull out their hair – from their head, eyelashes, eyebrows, beard, arms, anywhere. People who have this condition experience high levels of anxiety until they pull out some hair. Sometimes people who have Trichotillomania also chew or eat their hair.


Receiving Coffee Enemas

coffee-cup-mug-cafeSource: http://abcnews.go.com/

Coffee Enemas are something people can, and do, become addicted to. This can stem from a caffeine addiction as taking it in through your bottom allows it to be absorbed into your body more quickly (which is also why some people stick drugs up there, but those people usually die), OR it could just be because they like having enemas. The Florida couple, Mike and Trina, who made their addiction known nationwide in 2013, spend up to five hours a day with their addiction and don’t even drink coffee. Trina had various gastrointestinal health issues and claimed that coffee enemas are what helped her; she hasn’t been to a doctor since.


Playing Video Games

video gameSource: http://www.treatment4addiction.com

Yes, despite what your significant other says, video game addiction is real, and it’s probably not what they have if you’re still in a relationship with them. Video game addiction is usually characterized by compulsive game playing, usually of online role playing games, to the detriment of one’s personal and professional life. Those addicted to gaming often start to withdraw from reality and real relationships, instead focusing on online relationships and game achievements. People who are addicted to video games are USUALLY males under the age of 30, but not always. People have died from this because they simply refused to get up from their game and eat or go to the bathroom.



most pierced womanSource: http://www.popcrunch.com

Yep, people can become addicted to all kinds of body modifications, not just plastic surgery. Tattoos also fall under this classification. While there isn’t an official name for this disorder, some people just can’t help themselves and get every inch of their body “modified,” and most cultures praise self expression so much that we never question their motivations, or if in SOME instances, it may be unhealthy because it’s considered judgmental.


Eating Glass

broken-glassSource: http://scribol.com

Addiction to eating glass has an official clinical name – hyalophagia. People addicted to eating glass often admit to enjoying the attention, but also often sustain serious injuries, as you’d imagine.


Eating Dirt

dirtSource: http://mastersinhealthcare.com

Eating dirt is actually a form of something called Pica Disorder. Pica involves people eating non-food items. Eating dirt -geophagy – is actually very normal for some cultures, but if consumed in large amounts (or depending on what’s in it), it can be very bad for you.


Eating Soap or Laundry Detergent

washing-powder-do-not-injest-it-says-so-on-the-boxSource: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Eating soap is another form of pica disorder. This is very bad for you. While regular bar soap *probably* won’t kill you, it will absolutely liquefy your bowels, and people have died eating laundry detergent. That doesn’t stop many people from eating it, as it’s more common than most people think.


Thumb Sucking

AlveolprogSource: http://www.thumbsuckingadults.com

Thumb sucking is a comfort measure often used by children that can become an addiction in adulthood. Aside from being embarrassing, this can cause a lot of dental problems, ugly calluses, as well as sickness unless said thumb-sucker is very careful about keeping their hands and under their nails clean.


Gambling Online

online gamblingSource: http://www.techaddiction.ca/

Addiction to gambling is pretty well known, but ONLINE gambling, specifically, can be very addicting. It can cause all the same problems that a regular gambling addiction does, financial ruin, families torn apart, but from the relative comfort of your own home, with your bank account and credit cards only a click and screen away. Some experts even argue that online gambling is even more addicting than traditional, in-person gambling.


Unrequited Love

broken heartSource: http://www.beatingaddictions.co.uk

This is kind of hard to believe – maybe more so than eating dirt – but people can become addicted to the pain of romantic rejection. This has actually been studied, and brain scans have been done on people showing that it’s similar to a cocaine craving. You know that guy who makes the worst relationship choices possible, or that couple who’s “madly in love” but breaks up every other weekend? They may just have a mental illness.


Eating/Drinking Sugar

candySource: http://www.webmd.com

You can be legitimately addicted to, and experience withdraws from, sugar. Refined sugar/ cane sugar is actually really bad for you (though corn syrup is arguably worse), but unfortunately for most of us, it’s also in just about everything that’s processed. Most people addicted to sugar don’t even realize it because it’s such a common part of our diets. Your brain processes sugar as a reward, which leads to addiction and cravings. You CAN re-train your taste buds by cutting out all sugar for several weeks (including natural sugar), but it’s a rough few weeks because the withdraws are no joke; Anxiety, depression, irritability, cravings, headaches, tiredness, and muscle aches are all common sugar withdraw symptoms.


Eating Chalk

chalkySource: http://mastersinhealthcare.com

Eating chalk is a weirdly common form of pica, for both children and adults. While chalk is labeled non-toxic, during manufacturing it can be contaminated with everything from rat poop and bugs to metal shavings, as well as chemicals used during the manufacturing process.



hulk toySource: https://www.recoveryplace.com

Bodybuilding addiction is considered a separate addiction from exercise, though it still very much is based around being in control, or seeking the “perfect” body or physique, much like those addicted to plastic surgery. It’s called  muscular dysmorphia, or bigorexia, and like any addiction, it can take over someone’s life and cost them money, relationships, and even their health.


Listening to Heavy Metal Music

heavymetalSource: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

In Sweden, a man named Roger Tullgren became so addicted to Heavy Metal, and it took over so much of his life, that it actually qualified as a disability. He now receives unemployment benefits from the government as he’s only able to work part time. No word on if the checks stop when he goes deaf from the loud music.


Getting Plastic Surgery

plasticsurgerySource: http://www.treatment4addiction.com

Often caused by body dysmorphic disorder, addiction to plastic surgery is where someone is obsessed with an imperfection – be it real or imagined – and this starts a cascade of surgeries seeking to be “perfect.” Society also plays a role, glorifying plastic surgery, and many film stars make plastic surgery seem more “normal” than it is. Although lots of people like to mock those who go overboard with plastic surgery, after a certain point, it’s just sad.


Using Over-the-Counter Nasal Spray

using nasal spraySource: http://www.beatingaddictions.co.uk

Some people over-use over the counter nasal spray, such as Flonase, or even just plain salt water. What most people use to clear out nasal passages or help control allergies, people addicted will use them several times a day; however, sometimes this actually makes their congestion issues worse.


Eating Ashes

ash traySource: http://mastersinhealthcare.com

Specifically, cigarette ashes, though there have been instances of people eating the ashes of loved ones who have been cremated. This form of pica can possibly stem from a nutritional deficiency such as anemia and can cause illnesses from the toxins in the ashes, as well as general gastrointestinal issues.


Eating Paint Chips

paint chipsSource: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Mostly seen among small children, addiction to eating paint chips is a real thing. This can be very serious due to lead-based paints in older homes, and even if it’s not lead based, eating paint is pretty darn terrible for you. Other forms of this seen in adults are people who drink paint pens and nail polish.



workingSource: http://mastersinhealthcare.com

While a good work ethic is healthy and honorable, some people become obsessive about work and lose any sort of work/life balance. We all know someone who can’t “leave work at work”, but some become addicted to work and spend more time than necessary there because it gives them a sense of fulfillment. This is often to the determent of other parts of their lives, such as their personal relationships as they start to experience emotional disconnection. Before it becomes an addiction, remember that the grass is always greener where you water it.


Being on Social Media

Social MediaSource: http://www.computerworld.com/

It’s not entirely your fault, social media is literally designed to be as addictive as crack. You’re supposed to basically live on SM, and well, a lot of people do. People literally have emotional and psychological distress trying to quit Facebook, and some people can’t. This is a bit of a problem, considering people seem to zero in on social media and sometimes ditch reality, and also considering that it’s well known that Facebook is experimenting on you and gathering all your data for the highest bidder. Social Media addiction can become a big problem in someone’s life, affecting both their personal relationships and their job. If you think you’re spending too much time on social media, experts say the best advice is limit visits to social media to once per day.

Photo Credits: Feature Image: shutterstock, 25. pixabay.com (public domain), 24. pexels (Public Domain), 23-21. pixabay (public domain), 20. www.goodfreephotos.com (Public Domain), 19. www.pexels.com (public domain), 18. Max Pixel (Public Domain), 17. Bryan Ledgard, Edbrazil, CC BY 2.0, 16. pixabay.com (public domain), 15. pexels  (Public Domain), 14. pixabay.com (Public Domain), 13. Giorgio Fiorelli at the English language WikipediaAlveolprog.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, 12. BagoGames via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 11. pixabay.com (Public Domain), 10. www.pexels.com (Public Domain), 9-8. pixabay.com (public domain), 7. Hervegirod at English Wikipedia, AsphyxBand, CC BY 3.0, 6. celebrityabc via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 5. shutterstock, 4-1. pixabay.com (public domain)