Celebrities and the rest of us tend to toss around the idea of addiction pretty lightly. Paris Hilton claims to be “addicted” to skydiving; Avril Lavigne professes an “addiction” to black eyeliner; and really, who among us isn’t “addicted” to chocolate?
Many of us misuse the word, claiming "addiction" instead of "love" for dramatic effect, but true addiction goes beyond the mere love of cupcakes. Unless, of course, one’s love of cupcakes becomes compulsive and interferes with health or life responsibilities such as work and relationships. That's what defines addiction.
While the TLC show "My Strange Addiction" chronicles some truly unique addictive behaviors — a woman who compulsively eats cat hair; a man who is sexually attracted to balloons — we're going to focus on the middle ground between the common and the bizarre.
When author Buzz Bissinger recently revealed his surprising addiction to buying Gucci items, we realized there were a number of other people in the limelight who have some distinct predilections. And although it's tough to find celebrities who have confessed outright to their strange dependencies (beyond drugs and alcohol, that is), these stars with exuberant habits seem to be verging close to addiction.
1. & 2. Tiger Woods and David Duchovny
Both Tiger Woods and "X-Files" and "Californication" actor David Duchovny, have come under scrutiny for their sex addictions — which led to divorces for both men — but other celebrities like Russell Brand and Kanye West have also been waylaid by their irrepressible libidos. Characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts, people with a sex addiction have an inability to control sexual behavior, even when it’s risky or harmful.
While sex addiction is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, experts have long acknowledged “clear cases in which people ruin their lives because of sex,” said Dr. Michael First, a Columbia University psychiatry professor who edited the manual. “Hypersexual disorder” is now under consideration for the next edition, reports The New York Times.
Bissinger likes to shop; he really, really likes to shop — like, to the tune of $638,412 spent on designer clothes over three years. At the risk of sounding sexist, for a best-selling sports author, that seems a bit odd. And indeed, after indulging in the purchase of 81 leather jackets in just a few years, the writer came clean with an essay in GQ detailing his “Gucci addiction.” In addition to the leather jackets, Bissinger fessed up to 75 pairs of boots, 41 pairs of leather pants, 32 pairs of haute couture jeans, 10 evening jackets and 115 pairs of leather gloves.
A lot of people like to shop, but a shopping addiction is different because an unhealthy amount of time and money are spent shopping, which can result in lying, covering up purchases, compensating for feelings of emptiness, anger, depression, and a need for creating a sense of control. Compulsive shoppers often feel guilty about their behavior but are unable to stop shopping.
The model, author and star of "The Newsroom" told the New York Daily News that she can’t stop pulling her eyelashes out, a disorder known as trichotillomania. On dealing with anxiety, she said, "I don't bite my nails, but I rip my eyelashes."
According to the Trichotillomania Learning Center, this is currently defined as an impulse control disorder, but there are still questions about how it should be classified. It may seem to resemble a habit, an addiction, a tic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder, they say. Most recently, it is being thought of as part of a family of "body-focused repetitive behaviors" along with skin picking and nail biting.
How does the actress deal with the urge? "It doesn't hurt, but it's really annoying. Every time I run out of the house, I have to stop and pick up a whole set of fake eyelashes."
5. Jocelyn Wildenstein
One glimpse of the socialite who is alternately known as “Cat Woman,” the “Lion Queen,” and the “Bride of Wildenstein,” and it's clear that plastic surgery is more than just a passing fancy for Jocelyn Wildenstein. A nip or tuck here is one thing, but some celebrities have been so nipped and so tucked (hello Cher, Joan Rivers and Heidi Montag) that a possible plastic surgery addiction could be at play. Cosmetic surgery addiction can be caused by a medical condition known as body dismorphic disorder, which effects both men and women and manifests as a preoccupation with an imaginary physical defect or an exaggerated concern about a slight defect.
6. Katy Perry
Katy Perry has admitted to being very concerned about cavities. Generally, that's a healthy attitude, but Perry brushes her teeth six times a day and keeps 20 new toothbrushes on hand at all times, which leads us to wonder: quirky habit or strange addiction? If it later comes out that her brushing regimen has caused gum erosion and loss of enamel, yet she was unable to quit the cleaning, we'll call it an addiction. But until then, we we'll just sit back and enjoy her (exceedingly) pearly whites.
7. Jessica Simpson
While an addiction to cigarettes is nothing new, an addiction to nicotine gum, especially by someone who never previously smoked, is unusual. Such was the case with singer Jessica Simpson, who revealed on "The Tonight Show" in 2010 that she had become addicted to nicotine in gum form.
“The first time I ever chewed a piece of Nicorette gum, one of my close friends’ mother gave it to me,” she said. “I was chewing it and it was like a party in my mouth. It was like fireworks and ‘Oh my god, I’m talking a million miles per hour and I love this gum and what kind of gum is this? I have to have this gum.’ ” We're not sure how long this so-called addiction lasted, or if it falls more in the "love" than "addiction" category, but when it comes to highly addictive nicotine, one can't be too careful.
Hardly a photograph of Donatella Versace is published without showing the fashion maven with an exuberant glow, ranging in shades from tawny tangerine to deep brazen bronze. Whether from warm-weather resorts, tanning beds or straight from a spray, we’re not sure — but the lady always looks tan. Always. Along with other perpetually tan stars like George Hamilton and Victoria Beckham, the sun-kissed complexions could just be an unhealthy go-to style habit. But could it also be “tanorexia”?
Researchers have found that frequent tanning is similar to drug addiction. Ultraviolet light produces endorphins; scientists at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center studying frequent tanners who'd been given endorphin blockers recorded withdrawal symptoms — namely nausea, dizziness and the shakes.
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