Category Archives: Tech Addiction

Understanding, Treating and Preventing Digital Addiction 

 

 

In recent years, the world has been consumed with technology. The digital age has exploded in the modern world, and reliance on technology increases every day. Most people know when to take a break from their laptops, tablets and smartphones to just relax and enjoy the world outside, but some people become too invested in their tech. The issue has become so bad that new mental health problems have developed as a result. 

 

What is Digital Addiction?

 

Addiction is characterized by a need to use digital devices to the point where people do it compulsively and ceasing to do so over a significant period of time causes great emotional and physical duress. When this issue reaches a point where it negatively impacts the person’s life, it becomes a mental health problem and treatment becomes necessary. 

 

Digital addiction is separated into three groups; phone, Internet and social media addiction. Phone addiction is hallmarked by a reliance on a smartphone specifically. People with phone addiction constantly have their phones in their hands, check their phones incessantly, use their phones frequently in social situations and even develop anxiety when they don’t have their phones on them. 

 

Internet addiction is a reliance on the Internet through the use of any device. They spend a bulk of their time online, and some cases get so severe that the sufferer might develop difficulties discerning reality from the virtual world. Internet addiction can also lead to gambling problems or a gaming addiction.

 

Finally, social media addiction is an impulsive need to constantly check, scroll through and update social media pages such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and more. Not being able to keep updated on these social media pages causes feelings of depression.

 

How is Digital Addiction Treated?

 

The first step to treating a tech addiction, as with any addiction, is realizing the problem. With tech use being so common in today’s world, it can be very difficult to determine when the line has been crossed into developing an addiction. Friends and family members can help draw the person’s attention to the issue, but, ultimately, the person needs to realize what’s happening for themselves and seek treatment.

 

Once the person is already on the road to seeking help, the next step is making sure this addiction isn’t a symptom of another problem. Tech addiction is commonly a problem branched off from other mental health problems including, but not limited to;

 

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Schizophrenia

 

If the addiction is the only issue, the next step is digital detox. Just as it sounds, a digital detox involves breaking away fully from the Internet, social media and all manner of Internet-ready devices like phones and tablets. However, it’s not purely about quitting technology altogether. It’s about socializing face to face, getting some fresh air outdoors, enjoying sports and other physical games, taking up a hobby, developing a skill and reestablishing life without the reliance on the digital world.

 

Additionally, going through a digital detox allows for the development of healthy tech use practices. Unlike many other addictions where the addictive behavior can be dropped entirely, like with drugs, alcohol or smoking, it’s difficult to drop Internet, social media and device usage since they’re so deeply ingrained in everyday life. 

 

Developing healthier patterns in tech use allows people to return to the digital realm without becoming leashed to it. 

 

Behavioral therapies have been effective for treating addictions to technology. These therapies introduce healthier alternatives to Internet or device usage to help alleviate feelings of anxiety, depression, stress and more that comes from the deprivation.

 

Group therapies have also been successful in both providing a support network to people with an addiction to technology and giving them the resources to recover on their own time. Some drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities may also provide care for people with non-drug related addictions. 

 

In addition to therapy, several programs have been developed to help cut down on Internet, social media and device usage. For example, there is a software that limits Internet use over the course of a day. Once the limit has been met, the connection shuts off until the following day. Similar software limits the usage of select social media websites, and there are even blocks to prevent access to the Internet and certain websites entirely for however long the user needs.

 

If there are other underlying mental health issues behind the addiction, like anxiety or depression, a therapist may prescribe medication to help deal with the effects. 

 

How to Prevent Tech Addiction

With the prominence of technology in modern day society, anyone could be susceptible to a technology addiction. Avoiding this issue is very possible, and it doesn’t require massive changes to a person’s everyday life.

 

Make it a rule to go out and do something every day. Even if it’s simply a nice walk, playing a game outdoors or relaxing with a book on the porch, substituting one hour a day for some fresh air outside can stave off the urge. If the weather isn’t accommodating, try cleaning a room in the house, spending quality time with a friend or family member or getting some other household chores done.

 

Don’t look to devices as a cure for boredom. Instead, take up a hobby, listen to some music or go to a movie.

 

Part of addiction is a rewards system. Just like drugs and alcohol trigger feelings such as euphoria, using the Internet and social media provide rewards through entertainment, a feeling of achievement through games or enjoying attention through likes on social media. Avoiding addiction through a similar rewards system is very beneficial. For example, for every hour not spent on social media during the day, put a dollar in a savings fund for something fun like a vacation or a new outfit.

 

It’s also a good idea to do everything to stop the rewards system of the addiction. For instance, turn off phone or desktop notifications for social media websites to reduce the constant feeling of rewards when the notification sounds.

 

The same limiting software that help with technology addiction recovery is also a great tool for preventing addiction in the first place. It’s not necessary to utilize software that automatically turns off devices, Internet connections or access to social media pages, but being cognizant of the usage and tracking it through these programs helps people understand when they might be developing a dependency. 

If there is a significant concern over developing a dependency on the Internet or social media, have a friend or family member help with monitoring usage. Not only does having a partner help prevent overusing technology, but they can be a great emotional support to help make it through the rough times and make the successes that much more gratifying. 

 

The WHO (World Health Organization) Officially Makes Video Gaming Disorder a Mental Health Classification.

The World Health Organization’s announcement to include gaming disorder a medical diagnosis.

Through the years, video games have gotten a bad rap. They are seen as a major distraction, with tech addiction affecting people of all ages and all genders. They have remained controversial through the years with their graphic topics covering violence and sexuality. And now, video games have taken the limelight globally for being recognized as an alarming disorder.

Last may 25, the World Health Organization, also known as WHO, voted to include gaming disorder as a form of behavioral addiction in its International Classification of Diseases. What many parents scream to their kids about how their video gaming addiction is terribly annoying and how tech addiction is ruining their lives have just now become officially and dangerously real. There are several parameters to receive this gaming disorder diagnosis:
A person needs to show 12 months of continuous symptoms
Gaming and screen addiction takes up many hours of the technological addict’s time
Prioritizing gaming over health, hygiene, work, and social relationships

Gaming Figures

This declaration by the WHO on gaming disorders comes at a time wherein the impact and clout of the gaming industry is at its peak. Last year alone, this video and online gaming industry made up to $44 billion in sales; making them even more popular than streaming services and movie theaters. In the United States alone, research indicated that 167 million citizens played some form of electronic game, with majority of those figures playing online.

Gaming has overtaken the place of older social media apps, leaving less time for those with a video gaming addiction to spend on FB, IG, or Snapchat. This diagnosis has, of course, alarmed parents across the globe because data indicates that 97 percent of teen boys and 83 percent of teen girls play games on some kind of device. Some form of digital detox or detoxification from excessive gadgetry is necessary.

Conflicting Community

The WHO’s voice is without a doubt one that is filled with authority and power. However, it must be noted that they are not the only word, nor the last word in the field of science. In fact, there are those up in arms over this diagnosis. Of course, the video game companies are not happy over this declaration. But even in the community of scientists, there is quite a split between supporting tech addition as the real deal or whether this is a gross exaggeration.

It is important to note that technology addiction doesn’t even appear on the bible of the psychiatric profession in the United States. The closest it comes to being mentioned in the latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is something called Internet Gaming Disorder. However, it not listed as an alarming condition that’s a cause for concern. The term was just mentioned briefly with notes that stating this disorder needs further study.

This lack of a medical sounding diagnosis is a vital one. This omission is important because it shapes therapists’ and doctors’ understanding of their patients and the tools they need in order to extend help. And more significant, it is harder to bill insurance providers without this official code in the official manual.

Still Alarming

There is no official term in the United States yet, but clinicians and researchers find screen addiction still ever so alarming. Patterns of behavior associated with excessive video games consumption continues to be a cause for concern, especially because the bulk of the people involved in doing it are children.

A doctor by the name of Douglas Gentile from Iowa State University admits to facing this video game addiction and excessive internet use concept with a lot of skepticism. But he that all the data and hard evidence are already staring everyone in the face but people struggle in accepting, facing, and handling the truth. The serious dysfunction this addiction affects includes multiple aspects of a person’s life and it is not imaginary but very real.

Points to Consider in Problematic Use

The advent of technology in this very advanced and fast paced world has exposed every single person to a device. Gadget use has been very prevalent that even young kids have to grapple with its consequences due to early and too much exposure. There are many adverse issues raised against excessive use of technology. Aside from just physically damaging the eyes due to the radiation emitted by the devices, the exposure to so much screen time can cause the brain to change. As mentioned above, there are printouts of brain images that show the actual effect of gadgets on the brain of real live subjects. As a result, these alarming changes in the brain are the ones that are feared to create the real physical dependency.

On top of that, overuse of gadgets, games, and media is seen as a bigger symptom of something deeper such as issues on depression, ADHD, or anxiety. In a study called A Parent Report Measure of Screen Media Addiction indicated that parents are alarmed by their children’s behavior. Taking away the gadgets only seem to make their children more rebellious. It also does not guarantee they will not have access to it in school or in other social settings. But what they do know is that excessive gadget consumption has the capacity to affect their kids’ health (staying up late nights make them prone to illnesses), impact the grades, affect time spent with family, and interfere with social relationships.

Proposed Treatment

Rather than just taking the gadgets away, which will cause more harm and drama than good, there must be harm reduction through digital detox. Taking the gadget away does not really eliminate the problem because these will always be present in the modern world. Confiscating the gadget is akin to throwing it under the rug and pretending it doesn’t exist. Instead discipline and healthy use of gadgets must be taught through mindful usage and controlled consumption.

Going cold turkey on video games may not be plausible because for the users it does provide them some measure of positivity such as entertainment, making them feel good, or helping them socialize with their online friends. However, there can be steps done to ensure that the temptation to keep on playing or using the device s kept at bay. For instance, keeping devices out of bedrooms is one way to ensure that these gamers get quality sleep. It is also important to make sure that young people attend school, make time for friends, and spend time outdoors.

Addiction is real, and although the numbers may not be that high in video games use, it doesn’t mean that it is not happening. That being said, branding someone as an addict is especially dangerous, especially for teens who are still in the difficult stage of conceptualizing their identities. What is more important is realizing that negative habits need correction and proper guidance must be given to correct these unpalatable types of behavior. The word addiction and disorder both drum up attention. They are controversial. Nowadays, where people can’t even leave the house without their mobile phones, controlled consumption has become harder and harder to do. But one thing is clear, no one needs an official doctor’s diagnosis to get people to put down their devices more often.

Learn More

Executives are Performing Better with “Digital Detox” Programs

If you’re feeling a Pavlovian effect when you get texts, emails, alerts, etc. and/or find yourself picking up your phone constantly anyway? – it’s time for digital detox.

You don’t have to sleep under your desk like Marissa Meyer and Elon Musk in order to need digital detox. Look for signs like being distracted by technology to the point that you can’t focus, your creativity is stifled, and you have trouble making decisions.

Carrying on the old 90’s tradition of always being online, is pase. This sends the message to the rest of the company that if their not online then they’re slacking. The old online all the time mentality is counterproductive. Afterall, the point of technology is to improve our lives not make our lives worse.

Cellphones, tech gadgets, and computers are awesome and most everyone loves them because they offer so many benefits. However, if not handled properly with a digital health mindset, we can get paint ourselves into a corner. We’re constantly force fed information all day everyday. We get worn down to the point where we no longer have the stamina, snap and intellectual horsepower to keep up the tempo.

As an Executive with your cellphone in hand, when speaking to employees do you think they feel you’re paying attention, are appreciated and are being understood? What about strategizing in the boardroom with your team, partners, customers, and/or investors. What would be going through their minds after that meeting, was it productive, goals accomplished, decisions made properly?

Regularly scheduled digital detox programs will benefit your health, your company, and all of those around you.

 

Initially letting go of your smartphone is unnerving for most people. Usually before long we become more creative and productive. Detox clients sometimes step back and strategize on what phone activities have a positive return and which activities have a negative return. Then create a plan and decide how to execute.

Therapy and Activities that Help:

Nature immersion and adventure therapy are just a couple of ways that will help defuse the digital addiction. Some activities may include, snorkeling, hiking, horseback riding, indoor rock climbing, meditation, Yoga, paddle boarding, zip-lining, etc.

We have programs at Maui Recovery and Omega Recovery in Austin, TX.

 

Alcoholism in America

An estimated 17 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse. Americans that have problems with alcohol qualify them for diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder, and the cost of alcohol abuse and use in the country is estimated to be significantly over $200 million per year. This places the burden on society as a result of alcohol abuse, this does not include the impact on productivity. A large portion of the costs associated with alcohol addiction are due to medical complications associated with moderate to heavy alcohol abuse. For alcoholics in recovery from an alcohol use disorder, a significant portion of their initial success involves being able to deal with the complications associated with physical addiction to alcohol. The physical dependence that occurs as a result of having an alcohol use disorder can result in severe withdrawal symptoms that can even be deadly. Medically assisted detox is often required to help the person maintain their abstinence from alcohol in the early stages of recovery.

Alcohol Dependency

Alcohol dependence, aka “alcoholism”, is the most serious form of drinking problem and describes a strong, uncontrollable, desire to drink. An alcoholic is powerless over the drug. Alcohol is one of the most powerful, underestimated, socially accepted and readily available drug in the world.Drinking dictates the day to day life of an alcoholic, over time, excessive drinking leads to increased physical tolerance or experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they stop.There are varying degrees of alcohol dependence and they don’t always involve excessive levels of drinking. If you find that you need to have a bottle of wine most nights of the week, or always go for a few drinks after work, just to unwind, you’re likely to be drinking at a level that could impact your long-term health.You could also be dependent on alcohol. If you find it very difficult to enjoy yourself or relax without having a drink, you could have become psychologically dependent on alcohol. Physical dependence can follow, that’s when your body shows withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, when your blood alcohol level falls.

 

Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT)

Rapid Resolution Therapy is a gentle and effective therapeutic modality, created by Dr. John Connelly, LCSW that resolves trauma and other distress in as little as one session. Because the root causes of problems are pinpointed and cleared, positive changes endure. Negative emotions and destructive behavioral patterns are eliminated. 

Unlike other forms of treatment, with Rapid Resolution it is not necessary to relive past events or experience any pain. Rapid Resolution therapy integrates hypnosis, cognitive and playful techniques, to name a few, allowing for optimal healing through multiple levels of the mind. This type of therapy leads to dramatic improvements in thoughts, feelings and behavior. Rapid Resolution Therapy has effectively treated PTSD, other trauma/stress related disorders, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, frozen grief, guilt, resentment and even aided in successful recovery from addiction.

Along with creating Rapid Resolution Therapy, Dr. Connelly has also founded The Institute for Survivors of Sexual Violence, a non-profit (501C3) organization providing mental health professionals with state-of-the-art training in advanced clinical methods of eliminating the negative influence of trauma. You can learn more about Rapid Resolution Therapy and how to find providers in Austin, TX and all over the country by contacting me directly for a referral or by visiting the main Rapid Resolution Therapy website: www.rapidresolutiontherapy.org

Schedule a Free Consultation with: Julia Thompson:

 MSW NBCCH

TEXAS LMSW #66100

FLORIDA LCSW #SW14616

NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED CLINICAL HYPNOTHERAPIST

https://juliacthompson.com/rapid-resolution-therapy

RESOURCES

Article on Army website discussing RRT:  http://bit.ly/2ZTmQxh

Ted Talks video: “Life Changing power of words.” http://bit.ly/2GZDQuw

Julia Thompson: https://juliacthompson.com/