According to CNN, 22 million people use illegal drugs. Although you may not know the exact statistics, there’s little doubt that you didn’t already know that people abuse drugs. What you may not be aware of are the more uncommon addictions. As a social worker, you will have a wide range of clients with a variety of addictive behaviors. Here are some that are not as uncommon as you may think.
Animal hoarders are not just crazy cat ladies. People hoard all sorts of animals, often living in conditions that are unfit for human or beast. Some of these people start with the best of intentions, only to find things quickly getting out of hand. Others hoard for different reasons.
Pica is a very serious medical condition that, unfortunately, can lead to death in extraordinary cases. These people have a psychological need to eat things that have absolutely no nutritional content. Dirt, clay, plastic; these are all things that people with Pica eat.
You might know one person in your life who has a love of shoes that you just can’t understand. Chances are that this person has a harmless hobby. Other people are not so lucky. These people shop so much that they go into serious debt, and are often unable to pay rent or other bills.
From plastic surgery to piercings, there are some people that can’t stop tinkering with their own bodies. There are some people who are so addicted that they render themselves unrecognizable at an extraordinary pace.
Yes, people really are addicted to the Internet. No, your husband isn’t addicted to the Internet because he won’t get off of the computer to take the trash out. People who are addicted to the Internet let the virtual world invade their real lives to the point that relationships begin to suffer drastically.
You probably had a sleepless night or two trying to top your high score on your favorite video game, and that would be considered perfectly normal. What is not typical are the people who spend so much time playing video games that depression and exhaustion lead them to doing harm to themselves or others.
Social media addiction can be considered a type of Internet addiction, but these people are addicted to one thing: social media. These addicts often feel physically ill or incredibly agitated if they don’t have access to their social media accounts.
Reading addiction is not common, but it is a real addiction. These people take the term “bookworm” to the extreme. Sleep is lost, nutrition suffers and relationships are destroyed. There are some addicts that have trouble holding down a job because they can’t get their nose out of a book.
Although it is taken as a bit of a joke, sex addiction is anything but to the people who suffer with it. True sex addiction can lead to molestation, harassment and rape. People with sex addiction are not only at risk of harming others, but are at a high risk of developing serious health problems.
Gamblers can’t stop. People who are addicted to gambling bet on things that no one else would. Some addicts turn to theft to support their habit and, in extreme cases, some commit suicide because there does not seem to be any way out of the troubles they have caused for themselves.
There are hundreds of addictions, but some are more common than others. If you will be helping people, you must know, at the very least, what these addictions are. Knowing what you may be facing with your clients is the first step in getting them the help that they need.
Brett Harris is a social work writer. Check out his recent article on the top 10 accredited MSW programs.