The Hidden Toll: How Common Addictions Impact Your Health

When people think of common addictions, their minds automatically go to illegal drugs. The reality is that there are many addictive substances in our everyday lives.… Darren Ryding - March 28, 2024

When people think of common addictions, their minds automatically go to illegal drugs. The reality is that there are many addictive substances in our everyday lives. It’s easy to become dependent on legal substances like coffee and alcohol. Meanwhile, there are also behavioral addictions that also affect our physical health.

Today we’ll look at some of society’s most common addictions and what they do to human bodies. We’re looking at everything from the most devastating opioids like fentanyl to video game addictions. All of these can wreak havoc on our quality of life.


Tobacco is one of the most devastating drugs on the planet that causes millions of pointless deaths every year. It contains nicotine and sends dopamine to the brain in 20 seconds. That’s why so many people crave the positive feeling of relief that they get from smoking cigarettes.

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VeryWell Health

However, this highly addictive substance increases blood pressure and heart rate. It also causes a narrowing of the arteries. Another issue is that because people usually consume nicotine through smoking they suffer further negative effects. Smokers are up to 30 times more likely to live with lung cancer (via Cancer Research UK).


Here’s one of the world’s most notorious illegal drugs. It comes from morphine, a very useful painkiller. The initial experience causes the user to feel a euphoric high. Ultimately, it’s a depressant and an addiction will develop very quickly. This increases the risk of overdose with death a likely outcome.

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Pinelands Recovery Center

Heroin also triggers strokes and heart attacks. This drug increases the chances of external diseases too. Sharing needles carries the threat of receiving HIV and hepatitis. Meanwhile, heroin takes a devastating toll on the body, collapsing veins and creating bodily infections (via Health Direct).


This is increasingly becoming one of the world’s most common addictions. Most users inhale it through their noses but some also smoke or inject it. It is a stimulant that increases alertness and energy but it carries many risks including heart failure. There’s a good reason why most countries ban it.

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Medical News Today

People often develop a dependency and an immunity to cocaine. This is very serious because binging on this drug can have devastating side effects. Sudden death, Parkinson’s Disease, and seizures are some of the most traumatic. Meanwhile, illegal cocaine distribution also has a horrific human toll (via Priory).


This may seem ridiculous but it is one of society’s most common addictions. Work obsession is a behavioral problem with many devastating side effects. It causes people to work incessantly and may stem from psychological issues. Supervisors must create a culture where employees take breaks.

Better Up

Overworking affects mental health because it damages relationships. People are too tired to spend time with their loved ones properly because they need rest. It also reduces productivity because energy levels are lower. Meanwhile, it may cause depression and sleep disorders (via Atlassian).


Most people know codeine as cough syrup. It’s a very accessible substance so it’s also one of the most common addictions. Codeine is great when we use it properly but millions abuse it. That’s because it’s an opioid that comes from the same poppy plant as heroin.

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American Addiction Centers

It can wreak havoc on the body by causing stomach cramps and nausea. But it also triggers mental problems including hallucinations and psychosis. Codeine addicts have had homicidal and suicidal thoughts when using it. Cough syrup abuse can be a life or death problem (via Mt. Regis).


Many users don’t realize that ketamine is an addictive substance. Genetics and peer pressure increase the risk of developing a dependency on this drug. The fact that it can be a horse tranquilizer shows that this probably isn’t something to mess around with (via Priory Group).

Club Drug Medicine Depression

Minor physical effects include memory loss and an inability to concentrate. The infamous ‘K’ cramps are another relatively common symptom. Fatal overdoses can happen if they take too much. Meanwhile, some users experience permanent brain damage and bladder problems.

Nail Biting

Some of the most common addictions are actions that we don’t even think about. Many people have an uncontrollable compulsion to bite their nails. It’s a behavioral addiction that is essentially a form of stress relief. However, it has potentially serious mental and physical health implications.

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Verywell Health

First, nail-biters often feel shame about their nails. They don’t want others to see the damage they’re doing to themselves. It can cause long-term teeth and nail problems too. Another issue is that they may suffer gastrointestinal infections if they swallow the dirty nails (via Psychology Today).

Anabolic Steroids

Many people take steroids for different reasons. Bodybuilders often use them because they want to build more muscle mass. However, people with hormone imbalances may also find them necessary. Unfortunately, steroid abuse is one of society’s most common addictions (via Addiction Center).

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“Roid Rage” is a notorious side-effect that comes from taking too much testosterone. Typical it’s an act of extremely aggressive behavior. However, they also have many serious health implications. Anabolic steroid abuse can seriously damage organs including the heart, liver, and kidneys.


Benzos are some of the most widely used drugs in the U.S. Xanax and Valium abuse are some of the nation’s most common addictions. Millions of Americans take them for stress relief and to improve their sleep. But they can have serious effects on the human body.

The Guardian

Nausea and memory loss are very common issues that users experience. These prescription drugs may also ironically cause insomnia as well as eating disorders. Friends and family may notice behavioral changes too as dependency takes hold (via Oxford Treatment).


Here is one of the most common addictions on this list. Millions of people consume coffee every morning and rely on the drink to kickstart their day. Caffeine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. But it can create a dependency and even change the chemical makeup of the brain.

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World Atlas

This is something worth thinking about before that next cup of Joe. Caffeine addiction can cause shakiness and sleep issues with further health issues developing. It can even trigger a racing heart and there are links to psychosis. Always drink water before consuming caffeine (via Verywell Mind).

Internet Addiction

Many people will laugh at this and say it’s not a real thing. However, internet and general phone addiction is afflicting millions across the globe. Every time someone receives a notification on their device they receive a dopamine hit. It’s a pathological problem with mental and physical health effects.

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The New Yorker

One of the biggest problems that it creates is an inability to concentrate. Attention deficits are a massive issue that is increasing because of Internet abuse. Meanwhile, it inadvertently causes sleep problems as well as mental health problems including anxiety and depression (via Mental Help).


Many Americans take stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin to enhance their productivity. They use them as study aids because they believe that they make them retain focus and information. However, these are also responsible for common addictions and serious health problems (via UB Association).

Teen Vogue

They can cause anxiety and panic attacks with physical effects including vomiting. But it can also raise heart rates and increase the risk of cardiac arrests. Some abusers report muscle weakness and sexual dysfunction too. Remember, these are primarily ADHD medications so people shouldn’t use them lightly.


Proponents will correctly say that LSD isn’t addictive in itself. However, this hallucinogenic drug can cause users to develop behavioral addictions. Another issue is that a tolerance to LSD may develop over time. They may take more because they’re no longer feeling the same effects.

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Clearbrook Treatment Centers

LSD has several negative side effects including paranoia, depression, and aggression. It’s not surprising that it’s more dangerous in higher doses. A dependency on LSD is very risky because it increases the chances that they’ll experience these symptoms (via Rehabs UK).


This behavioral addiction is more serious than it may seem. Many sex addicts experience feelings of intense shame and suffer depression. They may be hiding their illicit activities from their partners so they’re constantly anxious. However, it can also cause physical health problems.

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Sex addiction increases the risk of contracting STIs and passing them on to an unwary partner. The best way to deal with this condition is to accept it and work with a counselor. When people acknowledge that they have a problem, they take the first step to healing themselves (via Transcend).

Crystal Meth

Many people mistakenly call meth an opioid but it’s a stimulant. Nonetheless, it’s a huge factor in the pandemic sweeping across the U.S. Users report experiencing a euphoric rush that keeps them returning for more. However, the risk of overdosing is very high compared to the likes of cocaine.

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Long-term meth use seriously damages the body. Addicts often have skin abscesses and scabs from injecting themselves. Meanwhile, they suffer severe dental issues and weight loss. Heart problems and chronic mood changes are other common effects (via American Addiction Centers).


Many people won’t take this seriously but it’s one of the most common addictions. It even has an official name: oniomania or compulsive shopping disorder. This is when addicts can’t stop themselves from spontaneously buying. Everybody impulse buys but they do it all of the time.

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Foundations Counselling

Furthermore, they experience a rush when they purchase something. It can have serious health effects including depression and anxiety. Maybe they don’t have enough cash left for their rent or to buy food. This can also cause severe relationship issues (via Black Bear Rehab).


Oxycontin addiction is one of the biggest problems in the U.S. today. This painkiller provides relief but the problem is that tolerance increases people keep using it. This prescription drug is killing thousands of people because it slows down breathing and heart function.

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Medical News Today

Furthermore, oxy regularly causes severe brain damage and organ problems. Many American hospitals are facing an influx of oxy-related cases these days. Another issue is that it’s a common gateway drug to Heroin use. Oxy is a massive issue that isn’t slowing down any time soon (via Addiction Center).


Ecstasy or MDMA continues to divide experts over whether it’s addictive. Some believe that it creates a dependency rather than cravings like other drugs on this list. Partygoers feel that they need it to have a good time but they must take more as time goes by.

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MDMA overdose can cause heart attacks and kidney issues through dehydration. Another issue is that producers are increasingly cutting it with fentanyl and this leads to more needless fatalities. This is why drug screening is so important at festivals and in nightclubs (via Desert Hope Treatment).


Many younger people abuse inhalants because it’s easier to access them than over-the-counter drugs. They include cleaning agents, aerosols, glue, as well as laughing gas. They may develop addictions and this exposes them to the risk of long-term health effects (via Oxford Treatment).

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West Coast Recovery Centers

Lesser symptoms include mood swings and dizziness. But they may even develop brain damage. Often users don’t realize how dangerous inhalants can be. They also cause mental health problems including depression and anxiety. Furthermore, they may be harder to spot than other substance abuse problems.


This is one of the most serious and common addictions in the U.S. because it causes so many health problems. Millions of Americans have an unhealthy relationship with food. They continue to consume overprocessed products even though they know that they’re killing themselves.

Food Addiction

Many of them have underlying conditions like diabetes but this doesn’t stop them from munching donuts and burgers. The salt and sugar addictions keep them coming back for more. That’s why heart disease is so widespread across the nation. It’s up to the government to make changes (via Eating Disorder Hope).


This synthetic drug is at the center of the opioid crisis in the U.S. It’s incredibly potent because it’s up to 100 times stronger than oxy or heroin. That’s why it’s lethal in small doses and causes so many fatalities. Nonetheless, it retains popularity because it produces a euphoric high.

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Summit Detox

Addicts risk their lives when they take fentanyl because it is so toxic. Overdoses can cause comas and serious breathing difficulties. There were over 30,000 fentanyl-related deaths as the pandemic took hold. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare because it’s so dangerous (via DEA).

Video Games

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) included video game addiction for the first time in 2017. In short, this is where gamers have a compulsive need to keep playing regardless of anything else in their lives. Many teenagers experience this but it also affects adults.

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New York Post

There are links between video game disorder and heart problems. That’s because gamers sit in a sedentary position and often consume junk food while playing. Other issues include depression, dysfunctional relationships, and general fitness problems (via The New York Post).


Many cannabis lovers mistakenly think that their favorite herb isn’t addictive. The reality is that 10 percent of smokers will experience addiction. However, more will experience a dependency on the drug. This is a subtle difference but it has similar effects on their daily lives.

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Harvard Health

The health risks are lower than with other drugs but there are still problems. If they smoke marijuana with tobacco then they may have the same lung issues. Furthermore, it can reduce people’s attention spans and their ability to remember or concentrate (via Nova Scotia).


Gambling problems are some of society’s most common addictions. This is a behavioral issue that can have devastating mental and physical effects. Many gamblers risk their relationships because they can’t stop themselves from placing that last bet (via UCLA Health).

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Verywell Mind

Depression is very common amongst the gambling community with high rates of suicide. Gambling releases dopamine like many drugs and can have a crushing impact when things go wrong. Gamblers Anonymous and counseling sessions are good ways to deal with this affliction.


It’s so easy to develop a drinking problem without realizing it. That’s why it’s one of the world’s most common addictions. Alcohol abuse ruins the lives of the drinkers and their families. Many alcoholics suffer from severe liver disease and health problems (via Rehabs Clinic Group).

Alcohol Addiction
Rehabs Clinic Group

There’s also the impact that it has on their mental health. They may feel shame because of their dependency and potential erratic behavior. It’s not easy to live with an alcoholic because they can be volatile and violent. But the worst part is watching them hurt themselves by continuing to drink.