Our biggest vices revealed: Which is yours?

We all have our vices, whether it’s having that glass of wine or a cigarette. Perhaps it’s a block of chocolate or a shoe addiction – whatever it is, it’s our guilty pleasure.

Not all vices are good for us though, as is clear in the latest report that shows Australians especially have a penchant for living on the edge.

According to a new study in the journal Addiction, “Addictive behaviours are among the greatest scourges on humankind”. But is that true?

Authors of the study focused on the biggest four vices – alcohol, smoking, illicit drugs and gambling.

“Tobacco and alcohol use are by far the most prevalent addictive behaviours and cause the large majority of the harm,” the authors said.

Ad. Article continues below.

We know they’re bad; we still dabble. The good news is we seem to be using these big killers less.

The results of the study shows an estimated 4.9% of the world’s adult population (240 million people) suffer from alcohol use disorder (7.8% of men and 1.5% of women), with alcohol causing an estimated 257 disability-adjusted life years lost per 100 000 population.

An estimated 22.5% of adults in the world (1 billion people) smoke tobacco products (32.0% of men and 7.0% of women). It is estimated that 11% of deaths in males and 6% of deaths in females each year are due to tobacco. Of ‘unsanctioned psychoactive drugs’, cannabis is the most prevalent at 3.5% globally, with each of the others at < 1%; 0.3% of the world’s adult population (15 million people) inject drugs. Use of unsanctioned psychoactive drugs accounts for an estimated 83 disability-adjusted life years lost per 100 000 population. Global estimates of problem gambling are not possible, but in countries where it has been assessed the prevalence is estimated at 1.5%.

As for Australia, we are lighter smokers than our British counterparts and have fewer problem drinkers (3.7 per cent)– the UK have 12.1 per cent and the US have 7.8 per cent.

Shockingly, 10.3 per cent of Australians smoke cannabis at least once a year.

Ad. Article continues below.

“There are other behavioural conditions, such as compulsive shopping, compulsive looking at your iPhone at every opportunity to see who sent you through a message, and internet-based gaming, which potentially also would meet that same criteria of becoming compulsive and causing problems,” said lead author, University of Adelaide Associate Professor Linda Gowing, reports The New Daily.

“We would’ve included those sorts of behaviours that meet the criteria of addiction if data had been available on them,” Professor Gowing said.

The authors concluded that tobacco and alcohol use are by far the most prevalent addictive behaviours are causing the most harm.


Tell us today, what is your biggest vice? What do you consider a guilty pleasure? How often do you indulge?