Sure, they’re not official “addictions” — but you may still find it hard to stop using some of these products once you start. (PhotoAlto/Alix Minde/Getty Images)
Can you really get hooked on something like lip balm? Well, sort of. While you won’t find “lip balm addiction” listed as a substance use disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it’s still one of those products that you may find yourself using more and more of — and not easily being able to stop.
Turns out, there’s a scientific reason for why. And lip balm isn’t the only “benign” thing you can overdo it on (though the official definition of “addiction” won’t apply to these, says Stuart Gitlow, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine). Below, find four things that can be hard to stop using:
Lip balm. Constantly putting on lip balm affects the timing of how your lips produce new skin cells, which results in your lips feeling dry — which then prompts you to put on more lip balm (and, of course makes the problem worse). Protect yourself by sticking to the simplest products without extra ingredients like menthol, which can irritate some people’s skin.
Nose spray. Doctors call it a “rebound” effect: After a few days of using OTC decongestant nose spray, your nose may become less responsive, and you’ll be tempted to use more. When you stop, you may be even more stuffy. The Mayo Clinic advises using OTC nose sprays for no more than five days consecutively and if you’re still congested, asking a doctor for a prescription spray with a steroid (since it won’t cause this rebound effect).
Vibrators. Although there haven’t been conclusive studies showing physiological dependence, many women say that their interludes with toys make it harder to come in other ways. “The more powerful the vibration, the greater the possibility of developing numbness,” San Francisco sex psychotherapist Vanessa Marin tells Yahoo Health. “The best advice is to vary your routine.” She recommends using a vibrator only about half the time, and your hand the other half, or switching around the power settings. Cut back if you find yourself always needing to turn up the power, getting weaker orgasms, or feeling numb. Her clients tell her that a short break helps them recover.
Redness-reducing eyedrops. These work by narrowing blood vessels and can make your eyes briefly less bloodshot, but they don’t fix the underlying allergic reaction. And using them for too long can lead to “rebound redness,” which is when the problem worsens and the drops don’t remove the redness anymore. Don’t use these drops for more than two or three days, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “as longer-term use actually increases your irritating symptoms.”
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