When we talk about addictions, it's perhaps alcoholism or drug abuse that immediately comes to our minds. It might sound funny if we were told someone is addicted to chocolates. But what if it were true, and that person couldn't stop eating cocoa-filled temptations, no matter how sick it made him? Or, what if someone was addicted to drinking nothing less than 30 cups of tea in a day, or perhaps to online gaming?
However, addiction in itself is a strong term used for obsessive behaviour. Harnoor Sandhu, a clinical psychologist at Silver Oaks Hospital, SAS Nagar, helps bring clarity. "An addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. They begin with bad choices that turn into bad habits, for example, addiction to TV or junk food. The brain likes these pleasurable stimulations so much that it punishes the body if it refuses to give it more, which is called withdrawal." It's also something that's very real, far from being exclusive and affecting select few individuals, claims Harnoor.
There is also a thin line differentiating obsession from addiction, points out Simmi Waraich, a psychiatrist at Fortis Hospital, SAS Nagar. "Obsession is defined by repeated intrinsic thoughts about someone or something. You try to fight it, but are unable to do so. While addiction is biological, since it might be in the family history, it gives a psychological high that an obsession doesn't give," she says.
Simmi also observes that these days, people are more aware of any addictions or obsessions that they are afflicted with. To counter any such behaviour, Harnoor offers, "Choices, good or bad, can become habits, which can become obsessions, and in the worst cases, addictions. Try to acquire good habits. For two weeks, try smiling at strangers when you pass by them. Take a regular walk, kiss and hug the person you love, for no reason. Focus on something positive at least once a day." HT City comes across individuals with strange addictions:
Aanchal Sood, 27, PR consultant: Suffers from an impulse to wash clothes
"I am addicted to washing clothes at any hour of the day, or even night. If I see a small dirt particle, mark, or for that matter, if I feel the washed clothes do not smell good, I have an impulse to wash them again. That's not enough, if the cloth falls on the floor, I will not hesitate in washing it again. It could be thrice a day or more."
Jasmin Singh, 20, student: Tastes inedible objects
"It's fun to try and taste anything that I come across, such as mud, chalk, leaves or even paint, which I use on canvas, being an artist. This addiction of tasting things doesn't seem funny to me. In fact, I can eat leaves all the way from Shimla to Chandigarh!"
Akashdeep, 25, interning as a sound engineer: Changes more than five or six footwear in a day
"I get bored with my look after every few hours. It is not some specific kind of footwear that attracts me, basically whenever boredom strikes me, I need to change my footwear. So, I carry an extra pair of shoes to office."
Ravinder Kumar, 35, theater artiste: Changes phones every 15 days
"I have a strange habit of changing my mobile phone as soon as I've learnt about all its features. Once I buy a phone, I only keep it with me till the time I am unaware of its features. Mostly, it's in a gap of 15 or 20 days, though they don't have to be luxury phones. Till date, I have purchased more than 80 phones."
Karan Gulzar, 23, freelance theatre/film actor: Downs umpteen glasses of tea
"I can have more than 25 to 30 cups of tea in a day, that addicted I am to tea. Whenever I am free, I think, why not have a cup of tea? You'll never find me alone; it's always me and a cup of tea sitting together. And if I don't get tea, it feels like my soul will leave my body."