We asked men from around the country, What are you addicted to? This is what they told us.
I used to be addicted to “attaining” women I thought were “unattainable.” However, after winning a couple of those battles I realized they weren’t unattainable—they were just terrifying, and other men were far smarter than I for steering clear.
Tom S., sex addict.
I was able to overcome my severe hypochondria, but, in the process, I became addicted to placebos.
Ray Martin, entrepreneur
Heroin. Oxys. Sometimes crack.
Chris, squatter, New York City
I’m addicted to coffee (black), school, movies, books, and art. It’s funny how nothing is exempt from being called an addiction nowadays. As if these obsessions are taking me away from my “real” life. They are my fucking real life, so if I spend all my time on them, good, I’m glad I’m addicted.
James Franco, actor and writer
I’m addicted to talking about myself. Usually accompanied by wild hand gestures. I’m also now addicted to pretzel M&Ms. They’re like crack for people who have issues with fear.
Rob Gould, Director of Social Media & Agency Communications, VIA
I’m addicted to female body parts. I remember the first time my dad caught me masturbating. I was 12, and he brought me to a Catholic priest who told me I’d grow out of it. But I’m 53 now, I gave up cigarettes 25 years ago, kicked a 10-bag-a-day heroin habit more than 23 years ago, but those female body parts just wouldn’t let go of me. I’m a writer now, my family thinks I’m famous, my therapist wants to write a book about me. If they only knew what goes on inside my brain. Some mornings I wake up, drop to my knees, and pray that I’ll grow old quickly. As if the loss of all my hair, a set of dentures, and my first purchase of Depend diapers will somehow stop me from looking at a beautiful woman and visualizing all the wonderful things I could do to those body parts.
Richie Farrell, author, screenwriter, and filmmaker
Staying up late. Symptoms have included (in chronological order) bouncing, Hot Wheels, comic books, books, dancing, television, video games, and Internet chats. But the sole cause is emotional. Profound separation, inside, from the usual suspects in my personal history. It is abated by practicing peace, silence, and joy, by making a hard-willed decision, and, frankly, by the ennui that comes with aging.
Bennett Schneider, writer, thespian, Hindu drag nun
I’m addicted to … winning, but I am even addicted to losing, because even the pain of losing a game is much better than the dullness of playing it safe and not risking anything.
Wyc Grousbeck, CEO and co-owner of the Boston Celtics.
I am absolutely addicted to creating to-do lists. I used to write them on scrap paper and Post-it notes, but I’ve now moved on to using project-management software that I use at work to maintain a large “life” to-do list. This includes daily tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks, and yearly tasks. It also includes goals for the same time periods. My addiction has proven to be a good thing in my life.
Dietrich Warner, college student
Sugar. Booze. Cock. In that order.
Dan Savage, author and sex columnist.
I’m addicted to Clubman aftershave. You know, the bottle’s got a gentleman in a top hat on it? They use it at the last remaining barber shops where they aren’t afraid to shave your neck with a straight edge. I must go through a bottle a month because as a kid I’d hear my old man stomping up the front steps from work, I’d race to the door, and he’d bend down to hug me, and there in the folds of his top coat and the warmth of his neck was that Clubman paternal smell of stability, wisdom, and bringing home the bacon. My buddies say I’m an old fart for wearing Clubman, but to me it’s barbershop holy water. I figure if I douse myself in that each morning, at least I’ll smell like what I aspire to be.
Joel Ives, rector, Church of Our Savior, Brookline, Massachusetts.
Buying things, I guess.
Keyshawn Johnson, former NFL wide receiver
Negative: I’m addicted to my iPhone. In a bad way. You know that new AT&T commercial on TV where everyone is distracted to the point of absurdity? Sigh… Positive: I’m addicted to health. I started getting back in shape about a year ago, did my first 24-hour mountain bike race and my first triathlon this year, and I’m hooked.
Ben Murphy, founder, The FatherLife.com
Nothing, actually. I would be bereft without my wife and daughters, but that isn’t what you meant, I gather. As for the things that addict other people—narcotics, blogs, etc.—I am pretty immune. I am not sure that is a virtue; I think it’s a function of my short attention span. But I do love hot chocolate, yes I do.
Mark Oppenheimer, writer
In answering what I’m addicted to, I first want to say that addiction is a preoccupation that hurts your life. I take it as a slap when people—knowing I’m involved in addiction—say things like “My daughter’s addicted to reading” (wrong—it’s not harmful, and they’re obviously boasting) or “I’m addicted to breathing” (idiotic). If you don’t want to admit what you’re addicted to (because I have maintained that every human knows what addiction is about from personal experience), just say so.
Of all the addictions that have harmed me—food, sex, love, fame, money—I would rate food the most harmful physically, love the most painful, sex the most transitory, fame the most preoccupying, and money the easiest to justify (because it supported my family and me), but it’s still a kookiness that interferes with living.
I have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol—I’m resistant to those. I can smoke cigarettes intensively (when I was with a girlfriend who smoked) then forget about them; I’ve taken the most reputedly addictive drugs out of curiosity without blinking; I sometimes drink in the morning (which convinces those who don’t know me that I’m alcoholic), but I’ve only been drunk twice in my life, 40 years apart.
And what of my addiction to addiction—something I’ve thought about concertedly every day of my life since I was 5, when I saw a neighbor being carried home drunk and babbling? Can your essential life drive, meaning, work, and avocation be addictive? I don’t believe so.
Stanton Peele, psychologist and author of numerous books and articles about addiction
I’m addicted to a few things—some less sexy than others. But I will say, I’m completely addicted to crossword puzzles. The sad thing is, I’m not that good at them. But lately they’ve been biting into my reading time and even my conversation-with-friends time. There’s something about performing a task that you are almost, but not quite, good at, that I find to be very alluring. I’m sure if I was a master puzzler I’d think they were completely boring—but the sense that I’m not quite up to the task? That keeps me coming back for more.
Chris Rovzar, editor, Nymag.com
I’m addicted to liquor and sex with strangers. Let me tell you, liquor has been a lot easier for me to give up and has caused a lot less pain in my life.
As a dad, I’m addicted to the sweet smell of my toddler’s breath, the warmth of my 5-year-old’s snuggle, the sound of my 12-year-old daughter blurting out “Papa!” in an exasperated voice, and the soft quiet place where my head fits on my lover’s shoulder. As a man, I’m addicted to dark-roast organic coffee, oversharing with social media, compulsively browsing on my Android phone, and top-shelf Scotch.
Derek Markham, writer and digital media consultant
I gave up cigarettes on my grandmother’s 98th birthday. I’ve also been battling a serious Twizzlers addiction.
Lawrence E. Forbes, writer
Tough question. It may sound corny, but I think I am addicted to my wife. Going by the DSM, I’ve had three or more of the following in a 12-month period:
1. I tried to leave her once when she was my girlfriend and I had very serious and unbearable withdrawal syndrome.
2. I am far more tolerant of her than I was in the past.
3. I have given up “important social, occupational, or recreational activities” in order to be with her.
Matthew Torrington, addiction medicine doctor
Coffee. It’s something I’m not gonna go without. I don’t know if it picks me up anymore, because my body’s probably immune to it. But if I’m thirsty I can easily just pour a cup of coffee instead of grabbing a glass of water. When you throw in the cream and sugar, it actually tastes kind of good.
Jason Sehorn, former NFL defensive back
“I ended a marriage-equivalent gay relationship of 10 years about a decade ago. Then I gradually developed a severe “sex addiction,” for lack of a better term, since I don’t think it’s a true addiction. But I almost lost my job because I had sex at work and downloaded porn at work. I even had a car accident while having phone sex with a guy. I totaled my car and got a concussion. I had ringing in my ear, which took almost two years to resolve, and it derailed my new stand-up comedy career (I haven’t gone up since). I was able to abruptly quit when I had unsafe sex for the first time. That scared me. Since then, while I’ve cut down drastically on sex, I’m now “addicted” to TV/Internet/Facebook/porn.”
I’m addicted to new places. The rush of strange cities, new languages, unseen avenues just totally supplants my usual escapes back home. No need for wine or weed when I’m on the road. It doesn’t even occur to me.
Patrick Symmes, writer
Click here to read other stories in this special addiction package from the Good Men Project Magazine.
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