In The News

30 Jul 2013

Ill behaviour: the addictions that destroy lives


Page after page, chapter after chapter, when Lucy started reading she simply couldn’t stop. She wouldn’t sleep, eat or speak to anyone until she had completed the story. Then, she’d begin another one. Lucy was addicted to ebooks. At her worst, the 23-year-old student would spend 30 hours at a time alone in her bedroom, reading online novels on her laptop. Her head would hurt, her eyes would ache and the hunger would be painful, but she was unable to tear herself away from the screen.

“It wouldn’t feel good but I would keep reading,” she says. “I just wanted to finish it. I thought if I finished it I could stop. But I’d start again.”

Lucy is one of a growing number of people suffering from behavioural addictions. This modern phenomenon manifests itself in the compulsive and repeated actions of an individual, from the seemingly mundane, to the understandably thrilling. Gambling is the most well known; pornography, gaming, shopping and, in Lucy’s case, ebooks, are far less known. Despite the serious damage these conditions can do to people’s lives, there is little to no public funding for treatment and they are often misunderstood. Many do not consider these to be “proper addictions”.

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The Independent


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