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Top Ten Addictions

Most people know about the dangers of alcohol, drugs and nicotine. But these aren't the only - or even the most prevalent - addictive substances.

Some people have behavioral addictions, too. It's possible to take virtually anything to excess ??" from caffeine to shopping to sex. Here are the top 10 sources of addiction and the numbers of Americans who can't break free.


Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that works on the same area of the brain as amphetamines, cocaine, morphine and nicotine. The average American drinks three to four cups a day.

As many as 30 percent of coffee drinkers down six to seven cups a day. That's enough to qualify as a caffeine addiction. Although, even one regular cup of coffee can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headache, fatigue, depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain.


From casinos to lotteries, the gambling (also called gaming) industry has exploded in American culture. More than 80 percent of U.S. adults have gambled at least once in the past year. About 1 percent of adults are pathological gamblers, notes the National Council on Problem Gambling. Another 2 to 3 percent have less significant, yet still serious, gambling problems.

Compulsive shopping

Studies estimate that as many as 17 million Americans can't control their urge to shop, even at the expense of jobs, marriage, family and finances. A 1992 University of Sussex study claimed that the vast majority of compulsive shoppers - about 90 percent - are women. But researchers now believe men have misidentified themselves as "collectors" of electronics, hardware and CDs - when they are actually shopaholics.

The Internet

Of the roughly 6 million Internet addicts, most are hooked on sex sites with pornography or cybersex chat rooms. David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet Studies, surveyed Internet users and found that 62 percent admitted logging on to pornographic sites for an average of four hours a week; 37.5 percent said they masturbated while online.

Experts note that men and women are susceptible to Internet addictions at roughly the same rates.

Food addiction

Call it binge eating, compulsive eating or a food addiction, it's a little-recognized - but extremely common - eating disorder. About 2 percent of adults in the U.S. have binge-eating disorder.

Most people with binge-eating disorder are obese (20 percent above a healthy body weight), but normal-weight people are also affected. Binge-eating disorder is slightly more common in women than in men - three women for every two men have it.

Sex addiction

Sexual addiction has many different forms, including compulsive masturbation, sex with prostitutes, anonymous sex with multiple partners, multiple affairs outside a committed relationship, habitual exhibitionism and voyeurism. Experts estimate that 8 percent of men and 3 percent of women are sexually addicted.


Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are major public health problems in the U.S., costing an estimated $170 billion annually for associated medical issues such as liver and kidney failure, drunk-driving accidents and violent crimes.

Half of all Americans consume alcohol. About 10 percent of alcohol drinkers are considered alcoholics.


Few illegal drugs are as deadly and addictive as heroin. The 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 3.7 million people had used heroin at some time in their lives. An estimated 314,000 Americans had used heroin in the past year. In 2002, 13,000 youths between the ages of 12 and 17 had used heroin at least once in the last year.


Is marijuana addictive? The debate rages on. But marijuana is undeniably the most frequently used illegal drug in the U.S. Nearly 95 million Americans over the age of 12 have tried marijuana at least once.


As addictive as heroin, nicotine is statistically far more deadly. In the U.S., tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death. More than 400,000 Americans die from smoking-related illnesses each year.


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Reviewed:    January 13, 2006   Rick Nauert PhD
Source:    Revolution Health News
Copyright:   ?Revolution Health Group