We’ve made huge advances in our understanding of the human brain and we can now treat neurological conditions that previously meant a lifetime of limitations and hardship. 

But what happens when you mix that knowledge with capitalism? Nowadays, every brand, every retail chain, every video game and app manufacturer has access to the same information and has the means to research the most effective ways to make their product or service as addictive as possible.

Our poor brains have never been assaulted by so many temptations. You see ads urging you to part with your time and money on every billboard, every time you turn on your TV or switch your car radio on. But wait! Now we have smartphones and social media, we have all sorts of online services that are only a click away, shopping has never been so easy and pleasure-seeking so glorified. I mean, you only live once, right?

With such intoxicating recent developments, you might find yourself victim to one or several of these modern-day addictions


 A workaholic is someone who works compulsively. Someone that chooses work over spending time with their family, meeting their friends, sleeping or eating. With the amount of praise employers bestow on people who come to work early and leave late or, better yet, sleep under their desks, that show up to meetings even with a fever and will answer work related calls no matter what hour, it’s easy to see how this type of addiction has become so prevalent. 

A child whose parents placed a strong emphasis on work ethic and praised them only when they achieved something or harshly scolded them when they didn’t live up to their expectations will be more likely to seek the same kind of validation from their bosses. These personality types are prone to perfectionism and neuroticism, they don’t trust their colleagues enough to delegate and feel a pressing need to be constantly busy. If they’re not working, they feel guilty or ashamed, like they’re not doing what they should, like they’re being lazy.

Most of the time, they’ll work way past the point of burn-out and when the sleep deprivation will start to affect their cognitive skills, they’ll keep going, fueled by anxiety and adrenaline.

Social Media Addiction

Many concerns have been raised in recent years over the impact excessive use of social media platforms has on our mental health and that of our children. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tinder have redefined human communication.

Unfortunately, texting and liking photos instead of meeting and talking in real life has led to more loneliness and feelings of isolation. Our brains do not equate the two and do not produce the same amount of oxytocin and dopamine. 

Moreover, scrolling through perfectly filtered photos of gorgeous, happy people on exotic vacations is bound to mess with your self-esteem. You begin to feel like you’re the only one spending your Saturday on the couch with crumbs on your shirt, binging on some sitcom you’re only half interested in. A recent study on the phenomenon of “Facebook envy” found that the participants who abstained from using the popular platform reported feeling more satisfied with their lives. 

Smartphone Addiction

Are you reading this article on your phone? How many hours per day are you using your smartphone either to scroll through social media, play a mobile game or watch short videos on YouTube?

Humans are, by nature, prone to boredom and distractions. Smartphones have given us easy access to an unlimited number of distractions that, no matter how dumb or meaningless, have the power to alleviate our boredom. Always there, right at our fingertips. Letting us know that we don’t have to do such disagreeable chores like filling our tax return forms, cleaning our apartments or getting back to work, we can grab our trusty companions and be instantly entertained. We’ll do all that stuff later. 

The increasing reliance on smartphones has been linked to sleep disorders, anxiety, depression and ADHD-like symptoms.

Shopping Addiction

Fast fashion has made clothes more affordable and also more disposable than ever. We might claim we want to go green and save the planet but since the year 2000, the average number of clothes a person buys has increased by about 60%. The lower price also means lower quality, but that’s ok because what we’re really after is that rush we get when we swipe our credit cards at the register and we know we just got a bag full of new stuff. Wonderful, exquisite, splendiferous, majestic and gratifying STUFF! Did you have a bad day, are you feeling sad? Go to the mall and buy some stuff! We have something for everyone!

Jokes aside, compulsive buying disorder or oniomania, may not be as detrimental to your physical health as alcoholism or the use of illegal drugs, but it does lead people into serious financial difficulties with mountains of credit card debt and broken family relationships. 

It has to do with the same reward centers in the brain as any other addiction

Malls and retails stores don’t make life any easier for the impulsive shopper, they try to make the experience as immersive as possible so you don’t even stop to think about the price tag of an item, whether you need it or if you can afford it. 

Exercise Addiction

Perhaps not as widespread as the ones mentioned above, but it is the most contradictory one on our list. We’re frequently told that our sedentary jobs are making us unhealthy and hitting the gym will be good for us. But more and more people are taking it to the extreme.

This maladaptive behavior can stem from body image issues but often it just starts with a desire to get into better shape. 

Exercising also makes the body release endorphins and dopamine so when they stop exercising, they start to feel on edge and crave it.

Exercise addiction is dangerous because it leads to injuries, poor health from not allowing the body to get enough rest and, in some cases, particularly when it’s linked to an eating disorder, to malnutrition.

Author's Bio: 

Cynthia Madison