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Last year, American novelist Joyce Maynard faced a harsh realization: Her habit of reaching for a glass of wine whenever she felt stressed had crossed the line into an addiction."It kind of crept up on me," said Maynard, 63, whose novel about a single mother with a wine dependence, "Under the Influence," came out in paperback in November. "The way I was drinking is the way a lot of women drink and don't see it as any kind of problem. And for a lot of them, it may not be a problem. It wasn't the quantity; it was the space wine occupied in my life. I could tell it was occupying an unhealthy one. I was using it increasingly as a comfort and a reliever of stress. I would say, 'I'm not going to drink,' and then I would."

Ashley Gearhardt, the lead developer of the Yale Food Addiction Scale, noted that women might be more vulnerable to addictive eating patterns because of "so many pressures" in their lives - "pressures in the workplace, pressures regarding child care."

 "It stops being about how much you like it," Gearhardt said. "People say, 'I don't even like it anymore. I want it or crave it.' You start to feel you can't control it. Some people say that they're 'addicted to chocolate.' You can like chocolate or look forward to it or have it as a special treat. That's not an indication of a concern, normally - but it is when you experience such intense cravings that you feel you can't manage, when it impacts your life."