Is Chapstick Addiction a True Addiction?

There has been a sea change in the way addiction is defined recently. Its fairly commonly recognized now that people can become addicted to the most surprising things, most of which don’t contain any active ingredients whatsoever. Yet, somehow real addictions to these substances develop. Chapstick addiction is a perfect example of this.Two key behavioral signs of addiction are

  1. The person organizes their life around the substance or activity they are addicted to and
  2. The person feels deprived, desperate and panic stricken if something interferes with their use of the substance.

Chapstick addiction definitely fulfills these requirements.

How can a person become addicted to something like chapstick? I suggest that its actually pretty easy. Something happens to create an association in the mind between putting it on and feeling good. Maybe somebody important complimented you soon after you applied the chapstick. Or maybe you just accepted the idea that glossy lips look good because of media presentation. Then you see yourself in the mirror with shiny lips and say to yourself, I look good.

Whatever the actual process may be, something creates a positive association between goo on your lips and feeling good inside. That’s all that needs to happen to kick the process off.

Of course, we need to investigate and find out why shiny lips trigger such a rush of positivity in some people and leaves other people cold. Still, the basic mechanism seems fairly obvious.

In the long run, it may turn out to be true that some people are more susceptible to these kinds of feel-good cycles than others are. That would seem to confirm the existence of an addictive personality type, but we don’t know enough about the mind yet to say whether or not that is the case.

No matter how that question is eventually resolved, I think its definitely safe to say that there is such a thing as a chapstick addiction and that it is a true addiction. It walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, so…

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