Addiction: It is more than substance abuse

Is social networking addictive?

Addiction is a strong word that a parent has difficulty accepting when it comes to their teens or young adult children.

Addictions are powerful chemical dependencies that don’t always make sense to outsiders or even psychologists, for that matter. What we do know is that if the brain likes what it tastes, feels or sees, anything and everything can become addictive.

Here are 25 addictions you didn’t know existed:

  1. Work Addiction: People joke about it, but work addictions really do exist. People who are addicted to work obsess over work and spend more than the necessary amount of time at work because it gives them a sense of fulfillment. Workaholics often experience broken relationships, emotional disconnection and other health-related problems.
  2. Eating Cigarette Ashes: Addiction to eating cigarette ashes is a form of pica disorder, in which a person craves foods with no nutritional value. People who eat cigarette ashes may have nutritional deficiencies or be anemic. Excessive consumption of cigarette ashes could be toxic and cause gastrointestinal issues.
  3. Tanning: Tanning addicts aren’t just soaking up the sun during summer — it’s a year-round activity. In order to release the pleasure-inducing (and addictive) endorphins in the brain, sun worshipers go to tanning salons and sunbathe outdoors to get their fix. Tanning addicts are in danger of developing serious skin cancers and increased signs of aging.
  4. Eating Chalk: Chalk eating is a common form of pica disorder that affect both children and adults. Even though it is labeled as non-hazardous, excessive chalk eating can be harmful to your health. Chalk may be contaminated during the manufacturing process and could contain metal shavings, rodent droppings and traces of chemicals that may be dangerous to ingest.
  5. Eating Glass: Glass eating, also called hyalophagia, is a pathological and pica disorder that is very dangerous. People who are addicted to eating glass may sustain internal injuries and have serious gastrointestinal issues. Glass eating has been a performance technique for years, and many addicts enjoy the attention that comes with eating glass.
  6. Hair Pulling: Hair pulling, also called trichotillomania, is an overwhelming addiction to pulling, twisting and plucking hair from the scalp or face. People who are addicted to pulling their hair typically have bald spots and may disguise their condition by wearing wigs or hats. The cause of hair pulling is not completely clear, but researchers believe genetic and environmental factors contribute to this painful addiction.
  7. Eating Dirt: Eating dirt, also referred to as geophagy, may be common among some cultures and species, but it’s also considered a form of pica disorder. Even if reports say that eating some dirt can be good for you, excessive consumption can be very unhealthy. Dirt eaters have a high risk for parasitic infections and poisoning if the soil is contaminated with industrial and human pollutants.
  8. Eating Toilet Paper: Toilet paper is another common non-food item consumed by people with pica disorder. Even though toilet paper may seem harmless because we use it on our skin every day, it can contain trace contaminants and chemicals from the manufacturing process. Not only is it unsafe to ingest these chemicals, but toilet paper is not easily digested by the body.
  9. Eating Soap: Believe it or not, there are quite a few people who not only enjoy having a bar of soap in their mouths, but they like to eat it too. Eating soap is a form of pica disorder that can have some serious health consequences. The toxic chemicals in soap can cause digestive problems, metabolic changes and affect the blood stream.
  10. Eating Laundry Detergent: Eating laundry detergent is a form of pica disorder, in which the consumer retains no nutritional value from the product. This addiction poses a serious danger to one’s health when consumed in excess. Laundry detergent is full of toxic ingredients, such as phosphates, chlorine bleach, corrosive acids and fillers that can make you sick to your stomach and cause several other health complications.
  11. Online Shopping: Online shopping addicts will spend a great deal of time and money shopping online for things they don’t need and will never use. This compulsive need to buy is similar to other kinds of shopping addictions, but online shoppers can do it anywhere, anytime. Online shopping addicts often struggle with finances, relationships and work productivity.
  12. Thumb Sucking: Thumb sucking is an addiction shared by children and adults alike. There are many reasons why people suck their thumbs during adulthood, such as anxiety and security. Aside from public humiliation and embarrassment, adults who are addicted to sucking their thumb might experience dental problems, social isolation and shame.
  13. Online Gambling: Online gambling addiction is a serious problem that can cause you and your loved ones a great deal of pain. Online gambling addicts spend countless hours and inconceivable amounts of money gambling every day. They often experience problems in their relationships, finances and work performance.
  14. Bodybuilding: Bodybuilding is something that can start out as normal and healthy, but can become very addictive in no time. Extreme bodybuilding can lead to many unhealthy practices, such as steroid usage. The obsession with being as muscular and strong as possible puts serious strain on one’s body and heart and can lead to disordered eating, as well.
  15. Chat Room Addiction: Visiting online chat rooms may seem like an innocent activity, but it has proven to be quite addictive for some. Chat room addicts spend a great deal of time on the computer visiting chat rooms and talking to friends or complete strangers. Some symptoms of a chat room addict include social isolation, irritability and anxiety when not on the computer, depression and problems at work.
  16. Romantic Rejection: Believe it or not, romantic rejection is something that people can become addicted to. People who constantly experience romantic rejection may actually become addicted to the pain and distress they feel afterward. This is an unhealthy addiction that could lead to further emotional and mental health problems.
  17. Tattoos: For many people, tattoos are like potato chips — you can never have just one. However, there comes a point where getting tattoos can become a serious addiction. Tattoo addicts may be obsessed with the pain of the needle and the adrenaline response, as well as the attention they get from having tons of tattoos. The more tattoos a person gets the greater their chances are for having allergic reactions, skin infections and contracting blood-borne diseases.
  18. Facebook: Even though it isn’t an actual medical diagnosis, Facebook addiction is a real concern. Facebook addicts are so enamored with social networking that they’ve dissociated themselves with the real world. Facebook addicts are always signed on and constantly updating their statuses or looking at others’ profiles. They may have trouble being productive at work and keeping their relationships intact.
  19. Text Messaging: Text messaging may be the next dangerous addiction affecting today’s youth and adults. Text messaging addicts are obsessed with sending message after message and may prefer shorthand messages over direct communication, which can drastically impair social skills. An addict’s impulsivity to send a message also increases their chances of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.
  20. Piercings: Piercings, much like tattoos, can be very addictive. Whether it’s the pain of piercing the skin or the attention it draws, people can become addicted to piercings in an unhealthy way. There are some serious risks involved with excessive piercing, such as bacterial infections, allergic reactions, blood-borne diseases and damage to nerves.
  21. Eating Sugar: Sugar addiction is not just an excuse to eat tons of candy – it’s a real problem. Sugar addicts consume foods and drinks that contain large quantities of sugar, specifically white refined sugar. This unhealthy diet can lead to many health problems, including diabetes, pancreatic problems, bowel diseases, obesity and dental issues.
  22. Computer Addiction: In today’s day and age, computer addiction is a real and concerning problem. Computer addicts spend hours upon hours on the computer doing a number of activities that aren’t work-related. The need to be on the computer at all times can cause serious problems in one’s relationships, work performance and overall well-being.
  23. Eating Paint Chips: Eating paint chips is a common form of pica disorder that is often seen during childhood. Ingesting paint chips is very dangerous to one’s health and can lead to lead poisoning. Lead poising in children can lead to irreversible brain damage and slow physical and mental development. In adults, lead poisoning can cause nerve damage, poor muscle coordination and reproductive problems.
  24. Eating Household Cleansers: Eating household cleansers is a form of pica disorder that is more common than you may think. This bizarre eating habit gives addicts a sense of happiness and fulfillment, but also comes with a slew of health problems. Household cleansers contain several toxic chemicals that are dangerous to ingest and can cause gastrointestinal issues and poisoning in large amounts.
  25. Life-Sized Love Dolls: It may sound ludicrous, but there is a large group of individuals who are addicted to life-sized love dolls. These dolls don’t just provide sexual partnership; they also offer companionship and acceptance to these lonely individuals. People who are addicted to love dolls are often socially isolated and disconnected with the real world.

Special contributor:  Celina Jacobson

Read more.

Teen Drug Use: Dangers of Pot and Teens


When it comes to parenting your teenagers it is never too late or too often to talk about the dangers of drug use.

Many parents will ignore the warning signs or make excuses for them, but when reality hits home that your teen is using drugs, it is critical you get involved.  Communication is always key to prevention, however there are times when your teen is no longer listening.  It doesn’t mean you stop talking.

Intervention starts at home. If you suspect drug use, talk to your teen.  If they admit to using drugs, and are determined not to quit or even tell you they can quit if they want, take it to the next level.  Seek out local adolescent therapy or counseling.  In some cases this will be a brickwall but in other situations it can be the beginning of understanding why your teen is turning to substance abuse.

If your teen escalates to a level that is uncontrollable, or simply defiant to all your rules and boundaries – and most importantly, putting your family or themselves at risk – it may be time to think about residential therapy.  Remember, safety matters, and we are talking about the safety and health of your family.

What happens if you suspect that your teen is already using alcohol and drugs? What do you say to them? The conversation is the same: parents need to tell their kids that drug and alcohol use by teens is not allowed in your family. The issue won’t go away until you do something. You will simply have to acknowledge that your teen has a problem — your teen is using drugs and that won’t get any better until you take action on your teen’s behalf. It is OK to ask for help. In fact, getting help may make it easier for you to have the conversation.

Practice the conversation ahead of time. You may have to have a couple of “practice runs.” These conversations are not easy but they are worthwhile. Talking it over with your spouse/partner beforehand will help you keep a level head and speak to the issue. (Review some key talking points and practice these sample conversations beforehand.) – Source: Parents: The Anti-Drug

Are you considering residential therapy, contact Parents’ Universal Resource Experts for more infomation on this major decision.  It is about the safety of your family and your teenager.  Order Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen.

Sue Scheff: Parents that are Addicts and their Teens

This is a very interesting article and topic, when the parent is the one that has the addiction.  How does this effect the child, especially a teen?


Source: Connect with Kids

“I was afraid when I’d go to school, she’d get drunk and hurt herself, or get behind the wheel, or crash into somebody.”

– George Evans, 15, child of recovering alcoholic

Every year, the government spends billions of dollars on the war on drugs.  Yet, in millions of homes across the country, that battle made even more difficult because kids live with an adult who uses drugs.

One such household was George Evans’ home. 

He used to skip school for days, even weeks at a time, mostly because of his mother.  “I was afraid when I’d go to school, she’d get drunk and hurt herself, or get behind the wheel, or crash into somebody,” George remembers.

Between Kindergarten and the eighth grade, George missed over four hundred days of school.  But as Steve Harris, licensed clinical social worker, explains, “It’s an extreme case in the degree to which it’s happening, missing 400 days of school, it’s common in the sense of the role reversal.”

George’s mom, Starlet agrees, “Your child feels that they have to be there to watch you.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 9 million children live with a parent who abuses drugs or alcohol.

And experts say that instability can be harmful to kids.

“Effects such as conduct disorders, higher rates of anxiety or depression, certainly a higher rate of problems in school, behavior problems,” and Harris says, a higher rate of addiction among those children.

“If it’s the parent who’s using the substance, then the child is at a greater likelihood for substance abuse, genetically as well as environmentally,” he explains.

And, he says, too often parents don’t view nicotine as a serious addiction and forget how tobacco can harm their kids in one other way, “It seems minor in terms of the social acceptance of it, but I’ve also worked with a lot of people whose parents have died of lung cancer.  And that’s a pretty profound effect on anybody’s life.”

With a lot of help, George’s mom is no longer drinking, and George is back in school.  “It makes my job a little easier to go to school,” says George, “we both kind of needed that stability.”

Tips for Parents

There is an extraordinarily large number of children at risk because of parental drug use. Experts at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration surveyed over 87,000 parents aged 18 and older about their substance dependence and abuse.  They found nearly 12 percent of children live with a parent who abuses drugs.

  • Almost 7.3 million youths lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol
  • About 2.1 million children lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused illicit drugs
  • About 5.4 million children lived with a father who met the criteria for past-year substance dependence or abuse
  • About 3.4 million children lived with a mother who met these criteria

According to experts at American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology (AACAP), a child in a substance-abusing family may have a variety of problems including:

  • Guilt – The child may see himself or herself as the main cause of the mother’s or father’s drinking.
  • Anxiety – The child may worry constantly about the situation at home. He/she may fear the alcoholic parent will become sick or injured, and may also fear fights and violence between the parents.
  • Embarrassment – Parents may give the child the message that there is a terrible secret at home. The ashamed child does not invite friends home and is afraid to ask anyone for help.
  • Inability to have close relationships
  • Confusion – The alcoholic parent will change suddenly from being loving to angry, regardless of the child’s behavior. A regular daily schedule, which is very important for a child, does not exist because bedtimes and mealtimes are constantly changing.
  • Anger – The child feels anger at the substance-abusing parent for using drugs, and may be angry with the non-using parent for lack of support and protection.
  • Depression – The child feels lonely and helpless to change the situation.

Although the child tries to keep the drug use a secret, teachers, relatives, other adults or friends may sense that something is wrong. Child and adolescent psychiatrists with AACAP advise that the following behaviors may signal a substance abuse problem at home:

  • Failure in school and/or truancy
  • Lack of friends and/or withdrawal from classmates
  • Delinquent behavior, such as stealing or violence
  • Frequent physical complaints, such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Aggression toward other children
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts or behavior

The following are some suggestions from experts at the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information for actions that families or friends can take to prevent substance abuse by teens for whom they are responsible:

  • Establish and enforce rules against underage drinking. Keep alcohol, tobacco products and prescription drugs out of the reach of children too young to adhere to such rules. Do not use or store illegal drugs in your home. Avoid exposing others to tobacco smoke and acknowledge that regular smoking is unhealthy.
  • Be clear and consistent in stating your expectation that underage youth in your charge will not use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs (ATOD). Let other parents know your views if your children are going to be guests in their homes.
  • Be aware of the connection between alcohol and other drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Make children aware that using alcohol and other drugs can lead to unplanned and unprotected sex. Many drugs, including alcohol and tobacco products, interfere with the body’s immune system.
  • If a family member exhibits signs of an ATOD problem, be prepared to connect them with appropriate help in your area. Know what alcoholism, addiction and ATOD dependence are, and what resources are available to you.
  • Help children and adolescents learn the health, safety and legal consequences of using ATOD. Be sure they understand that alcohol and tobacco are drugs and are as dangerous as illegal drugs.
  • Model low-risk alcohol use and ask others in your community to do so as well. Be a responsible host.
  • Be sure children have easy access to a wide range of appealing, ATOD-free alternative activities and safe, monitored areas where they can gather.
  • Discuss alcohol and tobacco advertising and marketing. Ask what he/she thinks about these messages, whether he/she understands their purpose, and whether he/she recognizes that these messages do not teach the possible harmful effects of using these products.
  • Be a positive role model. Do not engage in any illegal, unhealthy or dangerous ATOD-use practices. Provide an example consistent with your messages to the child.
  • Provide lots of love, support and encouragement and help a child learn to do something well.


  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology
  • National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information