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Car sex, cat food among strange addictions
Nathaniel with his car Chase on TLC's My Strange Addiction. Picture: TLC

If you think you have problems, spare a thought for people battling extraordinary addictions including being sexually attracted to a car, eating plastic and cat food and drinking nail polish.

These are just some of the issues people in the United States are bravely admitting to the world on TLC's popular reality TV show My Strange Addiction, which focuses on people "battling unusual obsessive behaviour".

"The show follows these addicts as they reveal their strange addictions to friends and family, and meet with psychological experts to understand the underlying causes of their behaviour," according to TLC.

The show's third season airs in the US on Sunday and features people such as 27-year-old Nathaniel, who has been in a "committed" and intimate relationship with Chase, his 1998 Chevy Monte Carlo.

Nathaniel has owned Chase for nearly five years and the show reveals that he "goes on dates with his car, buys it birthday gifts, and even has sex with it".

His addiction is described as objectophilia - when a person develops a strong emotional and sexual relationship with an inanimate object - and other cases include attractions to a rollercoaster, an elevator and the Eiffel Tower, according to My Strange Addiction.

"It was love at first sight. His body and then his interior and everything just together just seemed to fit and I just felt an instant connection," Nathaniel says.

Nathaniel's obsession began during his teenage years while building model cars.

He kisses and caresses Chase's "sexy" curves and greets the car with, "Morning baby, my handsome man".

My Strange Addiction also exposes people's compulsion to eat items including cat food, plastic and sticky tape.

Mary started eating cat food after a difficult divorce led to her spending all her time at home with her three cats.

The reality TV show estimates that Mary eats 900 tiny cat biscuits a day - or more than one million since her addiction began five years ago.

"They just burst with flavour in your mouth and I just love them," Mary says.

"I have a 17-year-old cat to prove that these are not harmful and until somebody proves otherwise I don't see no reason to stop eating them."

Mary's addiction has escalated - she has been eating wet cat food for the past year.

"It tastes and smells like chicken soup, just like Grandma used to make," she says.

Her brother Tommy is disgusted by the habit, but he is also concerned about the effect cat food that is not for human consumption has had on his sister's health.

"It's gross. There's four basic food groups and cat treats are not one of them," Tommy says.

But Mary is hooked and admits that there have been days when all she eats is cat food - no human food.

"Pet food often contains body parts from dead, dying or diseased animals," according to My Strange Addiction.

"Eating it can lead to salmonella, E. coli and cancer."

Although cat food isn't a problem for 18-year-old Kailyn, her addiction is just as detrimental to her health.

The Californian restaurant hostess has eaten plastic every day for the past 11 years and, like Mary, there are days when Kailyn forgoes human food to instead focus on her addiction.

"Plastic is something I want and I feel like I need," the teenager says.

"It's not the taste of plastic that I love, it's the way it crunches and feels."

She estimates she has eaten a total of 68kg of plastic: 800 forks, 12 remote controls, 5000 beads, 1000 mini cocktail swords, 50 clothes hangers, 25 takeaway cup lids, 10 water bottles, two baby dummies and three CD cases.

Others featured on the TV show include Bertha, a 23-year-old who has drunk five bottles of nail polish every day for the past five years; Jamie, 32, who spends 12 hours a day digging in her ears with items including scissors; 28-year-old Jaye, who has been snorting baby powder 10 times a day for the past 16 years; and Andrea, 23, who risks cancer because she is hooked on eating sticky tape.

In an article on HowStuffWorks, Josh Clark says people become addicted to a substance or activity for the same reason they initially try it: they like the way it makes them feel.

"Although some people may try a drug, take a drink or eat a doughnut and never become hooked, almost all of us have the capability to become addicted," Clark explains.

"Users cross a threshold and undergo a transition to addiction."