15% of adults in the United States are addicted to cigarettes. 7.7% are alcoholics. 5% are regular marijuana smokers or illicit drug users. 2% have an eating addiction. 2% are problem gamblers. 2% are addicted to the Internet. Up to 6% of adults in the Unites States have a love/sex addiction. 10% of Americans are workaholics. 3% are “exercise dependent”. 6% have a shopping addiction. 12.5% are addicted to social media.
We’re up to 71% of the population and we haven’t even talked about tanorexia yet (addiction to tanning beds). Or sugar. Or refined carbohydrates. Or caffeine.
Of course, a lot of people have co-occurring addictions, so we should take into account that there are the odd people who shop on the internet, while jogging on a treadmill, gin and tonic in hand, cigarette hanging out of their mouth and tweeting all about it. But it would seem that, even counting those folks, that having an addiction of one stripe or another is more common than not having an addiction.
I’d highly recommend you take 20 minutes and listen to Dr. Gabor Mate discuss addiction at a TEDx event in Rio.
And if you haven’t yet, check out the book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, it’s probably the most informative read on the complexities of addiction that I’ve come across.
And remember, it’s not “why the addiction?” that we should be asking ourselves. It’s “why the pain?”.