There’s a news story today that sunbathing may be addictive. You can read it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27866407
I am all for exploring possible addictions which may not currently be recognised as addictions by doctors or the scientific community. I even made a programme on whether food addiction exists last year, which you can find here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s4g7v
However, there’s a problem. By using the word “addictive” to describe behaviours or use of substances which don’t actually have any of the characteristics of addiction, (and by characteristics of addiction I mean things like tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, being unable to stop and being out of control), we effectively weaken the word addiction. Many of us use the word to describe how we feel about things we like very much – we may talk of being addicted to chocolate, or to House of Cards. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else.
However, these are not really addictions – they don’t impact our lives overly much, destroy relationships, or cause us real harm. We may do more of them than we want to, but that’s not the same as being addicted. By using the two, we create confusion, and don’t help with the public understanding of the devastation true addiction can bring.