It's possible you know (and maybe hate) at least one person who describes herself as a "tanning addict." When someone deliberately wears a tag like that, it tends to come off as a desperate "Look at me!" more than anything else. Let's face it: Suntans are cool and all, but who in their right mind could be addicted to intentionally exposing the largest organ in the entire human body to damaging, cancer-causing radiation?
We did specify "right mind."
Hell, after the total war we waged against the ozone layer in the '80s, it's a miracle we don't explode like microwaved hot dogs every time we make contact with sunlight. And don't even start with the beaches or solariums -- indoor tanning is just as bad, if not worse. So why would any sane person continue to actively tan, let alone bullshit us about being addicted to it?
Because it actually gets you high, that's why.
Ah, the ol' bake-and-bake.
Tanning meets all the criteria for a drug that creates psychological addiction. The mechanism isn't much different from spicy foods -- in the process of frying themselves, a frequent tanner experiences a release of those same beta-endorphins, the morphine-like opioids that your brain creates to numb pain and deal with stress, presumably because it thinks that your body is currently in the process of being slowly grilled to a crisp. And just like with regular morphine, you can get addicted to the pleasurable sensation.
Actually, you know what? Let's ditch the morphine comparison completely, because it turns out tanning beta-endorphins can be up to 80 times more powerful than the big M. Hell, tanning can even create the physical sort of dependency regular drug users know and love, complete with withdrawal symptoms that can easily be every bit as severe as those of heroin.
Heroin: The official yardstick of all addiction.
To study the effects, or maybe just because they wanted to jerk people around, researchers gave frequent tanners and occasional tanners a drug that blocked their opioid receptors, negating the high they are able to get from narcotics. Then they turned the subjects loose in a tanning salon. The occasional tanners experienced no ill effects, but the frequent tanners soon developed nausea and jitteriness so severe some of them actually had to drop out of the test.
#1. Chewing Ice
The next time a bunch of you get together at restaurant, start watching after everyone has finished their drinks. Most people will consider the ice that remains to be a sort of drink of last resort if they still have food left but can't get a refill.
It's also great for chucking at slow waiters.
But then there's the people who start eating their ice, crunching through it as if they've been draining their Coke just to get to it. It's such a common habit that restaurant ice machines are specially designed to create ice that's fun or easy to chew. And yes, people get hooked on it.
Imagine this piled up on Tony Montana's desk.
Ice chewing, or pagophagia, is a subset of a larger disorder known as pica, which causes people to crave things with no nutritional value (including much rarer and weirder compulsions like dirt, paper, chalk or even feces). Ice chewing specifically usually indicates iron deficiency, and chewers may actually be subconsciously trying to get the nutrients they're lacking from the water. This is further evidenced by the fact that ice actually tastes better to an anemic person, presumably because the brain is jonesing for a fix of that sweet, sweet Fe.
"You can just toss those beers out."
And here's the thing with ice chewing: it's a big, widespread thing. People have been munching on frozen water from at least the 17th century, and since the habit has no actual downside apart from brainfreeze and funny looks from other people, it tends to be for life.
Of course, not all ice chewers are in it out of habit or misplaced iron deficiency. Some do it for the kicks. And, as is the case for every single fetish you can imagine (and many, many, many that you really shouldn't), there is a home for those people on the Internet.
The Internet: Helping crazy people belong since 1991.
And see how video games keep you around in 5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get You Addicted. Or learn about The 5 Greatest Things Ever Accomplished While High.
And stop by LinkSTORM because soon LOLcats will be classified as an addiction, too.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infograpic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!