My name is __ and I am an Addict


| 15 Comments

No matter how old I get I cannot stop the habit of biting my fingernails. I have tried everything over the years: fake nails, polish, nasty tasting polish, and different products that all just ended up in the trash. My parents even tried reward techniques; my mom finds the habit really gross saying she would pay me to stop. When that did not work they even tried the opposite approach insulting my nails, telling me people did not find it attractive. Nothing worked. I would even get to a point where my nails had grown out and without thinking about it I would just bite them down.

Nail-biting_2.jpg

In an article about nail biting it talks about how nail biting is over looked and how experts are classifying it as an addiction/mental disorder, an addiction that is even harder to get past than cigarettes. Decisions have been made to change the classification of nail biting from a simple habit to instead will be a form of OCD according to The American Psychiatric Association and will be in the upcoming issue of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

When compared to other disorders that are characterized within OCD such as repetitive hand washing and hair pulling, so nail biting fits right in with those. What people need to understand though is that even with this new classification it is a disorder that is not impairing, therefore not very serious medically. Not everyone who bites their nails even should classify oneself to the level of OCD, nail biting becomes an issue when it is destructive meaning when one is impairing their hands or are getting repeated infections from biting.

During my research I actually found a correlation between nail biting and the pinworms we discussed at the beginning of the semester. Pinworms are actually not a dirty thing, anyone that has pinworms can spread them on anything they touch: literally anything from couches, to blankets, to towels, ext. No matter how clean a child, children most commonly get pinworms, is the eggs live up to two weeks so if they catch one under their fingernails and stick that finger in their mouth, they will get pinworms. The unfortunate thing about pinworms is that they are even contagious to oneself, if one is also a nail biter (or even just puts ones finger in his/her mouth) one can give themselves pinworm all over again. If a child was getting pinworms over and over again from nail biting this becomes an example of nail biting being destructive.

TLC's show My Strange Addiction featured someone who is a nail biter and has been for 35 years. They bite their nails without the willpower to stop even after blood is drawn; they keep biting through the pain. That episode was in 2011 but actually is not the first time TLC has touched on nail biting in 2009 TLC printed an article in InTouch reporting on a study done by Dr. Jon Grant on the effectiveness of N-Acetyl Cysteine when used to treat skin picking and nail biting. After using the product Dr. Grant reported that 56% of the tested subjects had prominent reduction of symptoms. This was a double-blind placebo-controlled trial of NAC that was funded by a donor-funded Research Grant Program within TLC.

nail-care-10.jpg

NAC is an amino acid, which affects the levels of glutamate within the brain, therefore making it easier for people to control unwanted behaviors. This knowledge is why Dr. Grant chose to test NAC on nail biting for he believes that glutamate modulators have the capability to help with disorders, addictions, and compulsions. This study produced results in favor of Dr. Grant's hypothesis (56% improvement of subjects on NAC, 16% improvement on subjects on placebo), which in this field in science is actually rather exciting. This study is actually among the first studies that focus on glutamate's effect on compulsive behaviors as opposed to serotonin.  The hope is that from this study doors will open allowing them to expand with a larger subject pool and high dosages.

People like myself (though I am not as bad as the person on the TLC episode) are struggling to stop biting their nails. A study where 44% still do not see significant effects from the drug does not make me want to jump up and go buy the product. Clearly though 56% of people having an effect shows that there is a hope and a reason for more research. 

15 Comments

This posts interests me a lot, because I've wondered why, psychologically, people chew their nails. It's an annoying habit in my opinion that I just never got into. However, I wouldn't call it in itself a "disorder". It seems like a more appropriate classification would be a "symptom" of a disorder. I'd be very interested to see if there is a gene that makes people more likely to bite their nails. A hereditary connection would be very interesting, because no one in my direct family seems to do it. After googling it, I found an interesting article:

http://science.kqed.org/quest/audio/is-nail-biting-a-pathology-or-just-a-bad-habit/

I also found this post very interesting. I had no idea that biting nails could turn out to be so serious. I started thinking about people who pick and tear their finger nail tips off, seems like something that could go along these lines. It might also be intriguing to see if these types of behaviors are caused by nervousness seeing as many many people have their own "nervous twitch" almost similar to a tell tale poker face during a game of cards. Also along these lines (I apologize for any graphic mental images that may arise) could be the habit of picking scabs. I found a PDF online that talks about the potential dangers of habitual scab picking. Check it out: http://www.ocfoundation.org/uploadedFiles/MainContent/Find_Help/Skin%20Picking%20Disorder%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

I also found this post very interesting. I had no idea that biting nails could turn out to be so serious. I started thinking about people who pick and tear their finger nail tips off, seems like something that could go along these lines. It might also be intriguing to see if these types of behaviors are caused by nervousness seeing as many many people have their own "nervous twitch" almost similar to a tell tale poker face during a game of cards. Also along these lines (I apologize for any graphic mental images that may arise) could be the habit of picking scabs. I found a PDF online that talks about the potential dangers of habitual scab picking. Check it out: http://www.ocfoundation.org/uploadedFiles/MainContent/Find_Help/Skin%20Picking%20Disorder%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

I feel so bad because now that I've read this article. I didn't know that it is a disorder and classified as OCD. I thought biting your nails is something that can be controlled. I can not stand nail biting simple because of what it does to your nails. Wow, pinworms. I had no idea they were related. I wonder would people stop biting their nails if they knew it ruined their teeth. Teeth are something that people are self-conscious about, so if they knew how bad their teeth can get, would they stop? According to the article Garwood Dental Excellence, biting your nails can chip and crack your teeth. You can also ruin your gum tissue. I think if nail biters found out about the negative effects of nail biting on teeth, that would probably help them do it less. http://garwooddentistblog.com/nail-biting-can-be-hard-on-your-teeth-and-your-health/

Never was really into biting my nails but understand why alot of people do, it could like a type of oral fixation and i can see how a lot of people could easily be addicted to that. Just like smoking is an oral fixation for some people nail bitting is to. Surprisingly enough they are both pretty bad for you, who knew that nail bitting could be so bad for you. It seems however to be less of a physical harm and more of a mental problem. People feel the need to do it even when they don't want to because of anxiety and nervousness, or just can't resist the urge. If they could come up with some type of gum or something that people could chew on to maybe make up for the oral fixation and satisfy people the same way as nail biting.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nail-biting/AN01144

I was a nail biter for most of my pre-pubescent life, and honestly, I have no idea when exactly I stopped but all I know is that now, the thought of biting my nails just freaks me out.
Like this article from WebMD says, I was a nervous nail biter until I was about 15. Apparently about half of all teens between the ages of 12 and 18 bite their nails, the numbers get small as you get older.
Is it possible that the whole nail biting was caused (at least in my case) due to the stress of being a teen?
One thing I do know is that I tried for years to quit, but I just couldn't - and then somewhere along the way, I just did!
Here's the article: http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/tc/nail-biting-topic-overview

I do find your post interesting though, I wonder if it's a type of disorder you can get over? Also is teen nail biting the same as this disorder, and if yes then how come the numbers drop drastically when people reach their 20s?
Good luck, and I hope you get over your habit!

I’ve never even heard of pinworms before until I read this study but it’s good that it’s easily treatable although it’s so highly contagious. I even tried to do a search for negative effects of pinworms on you health and I found practically none. One of the tips to protecting yourself from pinworms I did find, however, was to keep your nails short and clean. So, at least you’ve sort of got that part down. I came across an interesting WebMD article that talks about the possible risks of continuing to let a child attend school if and when they are infected by pinworms: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/pinworms-treatment-overview

I'll admit, I have had fits where I bite my nails at times. But I don't think am as bad as some of the other examples you listed in your post as I am not one to be chewing on my nails all the time. It is interesting to see that it can be classified as a form of OCD as it just seems to be to be a form of cutting your nails if they are getting to long.

I thought this was very interesting. I never realized how big of a problem nail biting was, but I have watched the show Strange Addictions and now that I think of it, I have seen some men with some nasty looking nails (even sores) because of biting and can understand why it is a problem. I wrote a blog about whether if it was really impossible to get addicted marijuana and one of my major points was how there are physical addictions (addictions strictly caused by drugs) and psychological addiction(a mental codependence on something). A lot of people are not aware of psychological addictions, but they are just as bad as physical ones and have been becoming worse due to lack of knowledge. Some common psychological addictions include video games, porn, gambling, and marijuana. Nail biting might also fit in this category, although the consequences may not be as severe.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all-about-addiction/201007/physical-addiction-or-psychological-addiction-is-there-real-different

My Name is Brian Yang and I am an Addict. Though for some short periods of time I stop, I always get back to this disgusting habit. I don't know why I do it because it leaves my fingernails looking weird and my hands looking gross but it truly is an addiction. Though I am not as serious as the TLC person, I am biting my nails every single time they are long enough to chew off again.

http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Biting-Your-Nails

This is a link on how to stop biting nails

I find this blog post very relevant to me because I have been a nail bitter for a very long time and it is very difficult to stop lie you said. I don't think Im at the point where it is destructive to my health, it is more of a nervous habit more than anything. Ive tried some techniques like you have mentioned but it seems like it is a hard habit to kick. It is very interesting to think that it is an addictive behavior. I would like to find out if there is a similarity with someone who has drug dependence and someone who bites their nails.

I used to bite my nails as a child and I never knew whether it was because of nervousness or my need to make sure every single nail was even. You are right, for a while it was difficult to stop. The technique my mother used was lemon juice. I simply dipped my fingertips in lemon juice and because of the sourness, my need to bite my nails eventually subsided

I know this bad habit all too well. I used to bite my nails when I was younger too. I tried everything to stop but what finally did it was re-directing the need to make them all even and nervousness elsewhere. I started painting my nails. Each time I paint my nails I cut and file them (make sure they are all even) and then paint them. Granted my nervous habit is cracking my knuckles so I still need to re-direct that but I haven't bit my nails in over three or four years.

Wow I am honestly shocked by having so many comments this post got; I am really glad that a lot of people found it interesting! I think it is a topic that a lot of people relate to I actually did not put any statistics in my article, but researchers say about 50% of children struggle with nail biting at some point! (http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/tc/nail-biting-topic-overview) Also here's a video link to tips to stop biting your nails: http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-stop-biting-your-nails-2 who knows maybe some of them will work for you guys!

Wow I am honestly shocked by having so many comments this post got; I am really glad that a lot of people found it interesting! I think it is a topic that a lot of people relate to I actually did not put any statistics in my article, but researchers say about 50% of children struggle with nail biting at some point! (http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/tc/nail-biting-topic-overview) Also here's a video link to tips to stop biting your nails: http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-stop-biting-your-nails-2 who knows maybe some of them will work for you guys!

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Brain Games and Luminosity. Is it a scam?
Many of you have most likely seen Luminosity commercials or heard about it's efficacy. It claims to train your…
Why are my Chips Stale?
I do not think there is one person in this class that has not eaten a stale chip. I…
Dietary

Old Contributions