The toilet may appear to be an unassuming receptacle for our bodily waste, a friendly porcelain mouth ready to accept our vilest produce. Yet there are people for whom it can be dangerously addictive, to the point of obsession.
Karen Jefferson, 47, is a seemingly normal housewife, but she goes to the toilet nearly thirty times a day. "Most of the time I don't even do anything," she says sobbing. "Not even a quick wee. I'll just sit in there reading a magazine or staring at the wallpaper. I find it strangely soothing."
She is not alone - except that she is literally alone while on the toilet - but she is not alone in her toilet addiction. Millions of British people go to the toilet more than ten times a day, which is considered above the danger level. Under ten times a day is normal, although under three times a day could mean a bladder problem or a forgotten buttplug.
If you are worried about your toilet habits, most doctors recommend keeping a toilet diary and counting your excretions. This should include the times you go to the toilet for other reasons - for example, to sit down, sleep, masturbate, finish a crossword or assemble furniture. Lavatory addiction is a devastating habit which can ruin lives and toilet seats.
Plumber Darrell Costia, 32, is disgusted at the toilet addicts he regularly comes across in his work. “A toilet seat should last five years,” he bemoaned. “Some of these people have to replace theirs every year. Also, overuse of a toilet can mean the bowl gets tilted forward and misaligns the gaskets. Not to mention flushing! Some people flush even if they haven’t done anything, which is disgraceful, and can seriously stress the ballcock.” He had no sympathy for the addicts who caused so much avoidable damage to their own lavatories.
Geoff Jobbie, 36, is a salesman who mostly works on the phone and a self-confessed addict. He often works while sitting on the toilet. He explained, "It all started one day when I was really bursting to go, but I had this urgent call. I thought I'd just take it from the toilet. Nobody would know. The call went really well - something about the echo I think made me sound great. Now I make all my sales calls from the toilet." He began to break down. "I need help!" he cried. I asked him if he pulled his trousers down while he made his phone calls but he didn't answer.
There are millions of people like Geoff out there suffering, but treatments are available. One method is to buy a lavatory spike - a painful but effective way of avoiding the toilet. However, users of the spike have found they often prefer to soil themselves rather than risk impalement, so it isn't a perfect solution.
Doctor Balzac of the Mental Health Institute says that the best way to cut toilet addiction is to have the home toilet removed - either by bricking it up or by converting it into a drinking fountain for a pet. “When you need to go,” he explained, “you can squat in your garden like nature intended. If you don't have a garden, use a windowbox or wear a nappy.”
Norman Grassbutt, 53, had his home toilet removed three years ago, and he hasn't looked back since. "My anus does get rather smelly," he said. "But that's other people's problem. I am now completely cured of my toilet addiction. Before I was going thirty times a day. Now I don't miss it at all. Even if I go to the pub, I just piss outside in the street like most of the other locals."
If you are having problems with toilet addiction, call Toilet Stoppers, and they can help you take the first steps away from this most destructive habit.