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5 Unique Addictions You Might Not Have Heard Of

5 Unique Addictions You Might Not Have Heard Of

When someone talks about common addictions, drugs and alcohol typically come to mind. However, did you know there are unique types of addiction that some people develop? You would never expect someone to be addicted to pulling out their own hair—but it does happen. Read more about these unique types of addiction.

Unique Types of Addiction

These are conditions that can be considered addictions in their own right. You may have heard of these conditions on television programs or documentaries. Like other types of addiction, these have components of compulsion and continuation despite the clear consequences.

#1: Pica

Firstly, one of the most unique types of addiction is a behavior known as pica. This is a type of eating disorder that fits many of the criteria for addiction.

According to experts, pica is thought to be a symptom of anemia, digestive issues, or possible toxicity. When someone has pica, they will eat unconventional things that don’t have much nutritional value instead of typical or “normal” food. Examples include:

  • Ice cubes
  • Soil or dirt
  • Hair
  • Paint or wall chips
  • Clay
  • Glue
  • Ashes
  • Feces

Pica is a complicated disorder that may be harmless at first (depending on the substance or food), but can progress into an addiction. While eating ice is mostly safe, other things people may eat due to pica can be dangerous to their health.

#2: Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is the medical term for hair-pulling disorder. Similar to a behavioral addiction, trichotillomania involves strong compulsion and lack of self-control. For people with this disorder, pulling out hair from the scalp, eyebrows, or eyelashes brings a sense of pleasure or relief. Some people may also proceed to collect, chew, or eat the hair.

A sign that someone may be addicted to pulling out their hair is balding and hairless patches of skin. Stressful situations may increase the amount and frequency of hair pulling. People with this condition may go through great lengths to hide it or may not even notice that they have a problem.

Pulling or scratching the scalp or other parts of the body with hair may stem from dermatological issues. In cases of pulling due to dandruff, lice, eczema, or other conditions, trichotillomania may not be the cause.

unique types of addiction

#3: Lying

Pathological lying has often been used in pop culture references to describe people who are addicted to lying. These people are portrayed as compulsive liars who either take pleasure in being dishonest or who lie and believe their false statements.

However, pathological lying is not currently an official psychiatric diagnosis. Frequent and unwarranted lying may not be an addiction on its own, but rather a symptom of addiction in general.

#4: Exercise

Exercising is a great way to stay in shape and improve your strength. However, taking it too far can be dangerous. Another unique type of addiction is excessive exercising.

As with all addictions, exercise and its results can bring a person a euphoric, pleasant, or “high” feeling. Endorphins or “happy hormones” are responsible for this sensation. Because exercising feels good and makes a person look good, there is a reward. Too much exercising, however, can damage the muscles, joints, and make a person prone to injury.

An addiction to exercising can be present in people of any body type or fitness level. Those with eating or body image disorders may be more susceptible to exercise addiction. For people with these disorders, being at a healthy weight may not be enough.

unique types of addiction

#5: Likes

Lastly, being addicted to “likes” on social media can be considered one of the unique types of addiction today. Interacting with friends, family, and strangers online can be engaging and enjoyable, but for some people it can become an unhealthy obsession.

Finding pleasure in external validation is completely normal. But when you find yourself constantly checking and stressing over the number of likes or comments on your posts, it may be a sign of social media addiction. The dangers of this include negative effects on a person’s self-esteem, smartphone addiction, and other mental health problems.

Key takeaways

In summary, addictions can come in many shapes and sizes. While some of these addictions may not be common, they should still be treated with the same concern and compassion. Unique types of addiction should be diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional.

Learn more about Addiction here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Addiction: what is it? https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/addiction-what-is-it/ Accessed January 15, 2021

Shining a light on Uncommon Addictions https://casacaprirecovery.com/blog/shining-light-uncommon-addictions/ Accessed January 15, 2021

Trichotillomania https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/trichotillomania/symptoms-causes/syc-20355188 Accessed January 15, 2021

Pica https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/pica Accessed January 15, 2021

Pathological Lying: Theoretical and Empirical Support for a Diagnostic Entity https://prcp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.prcp.20190046 Accessed January 15, 2021

Exercise Addiction, https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/exercise-addiction Accessed June 9, 2021

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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated Jun 09