Technology Addictions: Recognizing and Helping a New Age of Addicts
In this day and age, we are surrounded by addicts. It is no longer as visible as drunken strides, baggy eyes, or needle marks. Make no mistake; addicts are everywhere; the signs of their existence and behavior is just less visible than it has been with other addictions.
Though, for some, like wives, husbands, children, and friends of those addicts, the signs can be very apparent. Also, they can be and are detrimental to their relationships.
Pornography, video games, social media, and others: these are the new face of addiction today, technology dependencies. According to brain studies, pornography is more addictive than cocaine. Video games are not quite as addictive, but they are not that far away. Social media is a newly emerged addiction that has been taking its toll on our culture and our ability to communicate with each other in a healthy way.
Social media, though it would have seemed like such a strange concept to people 20 years ago, has become a dependency or even a technology addiction for many:
- reading that next post
- adding that next comment
- creating and gobbling up that drama
- feeling the need to share your life with others to feel important and worthy
- spending hours scrolling and browsing through other peoples’ lives rather than your own.
… many are caught up in this cycle, and there are many legitimate reasons that individuals use it to cope. Though, it is an unhealthy way of coping and leads to disconnection and disengagement with life and people, breeding dependency, lack of fulfillment, and susceptibility to other addictions.
Pornography addiction ruins the mind and destroys relationships. It is an insidious addiction that poisons the life of millions in our world. It transforms perception, eradicates self-esteem, robs motivation and drive, severs emotional connections, creates anxiety and depression, and brings remorse and apathy; and those are only the personal effects, that does not include all the effects upon spouses, children, siblings, parents, and others. “Porn Kills Love” as Fight The New Drug states.
Video games seem like an engaging and relatively harmless pastime to some. It’s true, a half hour here or a half hour there is not that bad, but regular or irresponsible video game play breeds many adverse effects and can be severely inhibiting and damaging for the individual’s mind and their mood.
A study done by M.J. Koepp in 1998 revealed that video game play releases a level of dopamine (the “pleasure and drive” chemical in the brain) comparable to that seen when amphetamines are injected intravenously.
This amount of dopamine can be released in other natural events in life, it’s duration is usually very short, it subsides, and then the person goes back to normal levels. These types of experiences are healthy and create joy.
Part of the issue with video games comes in when you consider how long an artificial and highly stimulating experience like this can be dragged out; virtually endlessly. When you spike dopamine too high for too long in the brain, as is so easy to do with video games, it damages the brain and causes it to release less and less dopamine in normal life the more and more often that an individual plays.
Thus, dependency ensues, and overall satisfaction with life goes down. An imbalance in dopamine also leads to many, many other issues that could be discussed at great length. It is crucial for desire, enjoyment, and motivation, in turn affecting nearly every area of life. (There are 12 different types of dopamine, but we won’t get into that)
It is important that we be aware of the dangers of these things. Many are not privy to the potentially detrimental effects of these technologies until they are already held down in the chains of addiction and feel they cannot escape.
Prevention is a beautiful thing.
If we can educate ourselves and our loved ones in these things and stay wise to their dangers, we can save many from pain and suffering. But what if you or your loved one are already caught? Well, many things can be done, and thousands have recovered and overcome these addictions already.
It is 100% possible. But this kind of a transformation takes effort, diligence, and it does entail pain in the aspects of withdrawal and behavior-change.
What is wonderful though, is that many already know how to overcome these addictions and there are so much knowledge and support to help individuals figure out how to gain the keys to unlock these chains that have been placed upon them and move onto a life of freedom. Though it can be difficult, the effort can be put into recovery strategies and tapping into power to overcome, rather than effort spent on battling, fear, and will-power-binging. We only have so much energy; we just need to know how to use it and how to channel it into building new habits and engaging in strategies, activities, and thought-replacement to enable recovery.
At Utah Family Therapy, we provide counseling to help people understand themselves and gain a sense of worthiness and self-love to overcome the things that led them to addiction initially. Using robust methods of Intensive Network Therapy, we delve into the family structure and community to help addicts get the support they need to overcome their burdens. Our goal is to help them figure out what can be done within the structure to better their situation and bring about powerful, meaningful change – not only about recovery but in other areas of life as well.
Connection breeds change, and close ties in relationships can make all the difference. We are here to help enable that process and bring about the changes necessary to create stability and support.
Utah Family Therapy: 801.901.0279
In closing, we would like to provide some helpful methods for those seeking recovery. These things are for individuals struggling with addiction, and they have been used by many who have already recovered:
1. Learn HOW you say no:
- With addiction, willpower alone will not enable you to recover. Just stating that you will “never do that again” will not help you overcome your addiction. In fact, when you say “I am never going to do that again,” what are you focusing on? “That.” A key to recovery is becoming focused on what it is you do want. If you want sobriety, focus on it, not the behavior itself.
- Write down your motivations for being clean in detail. Record them in your voice and listen to them morning and night. As time moves on, write a new script of motivations and record that. Expand these deep motivations and meanings as you have more and more time sober and refer to them and think about them often during recovery. Recovered addicts still reflect on these often, even after months or years of recovery.
- When you begin to fear urges or slips, switch your focus to the reality that you do desire, not the one you don’t. Envision it, focus on it, make it your center. Then engage in something productive, fulfilling, or spend time with a close friend or family member.
In addition to these things, there are many other very effective thought replacement techniques that our therapists and mentors know that they will be able to teach you.
To overcome addiction, we need the aid of other people. Also, a primary reason for becoming caught up in addiction in the first place is the lack of connection.
- Get connected with others and have at least one good friend that you can express your pains or deep feelings to that will listen and be there for you.
- Also, join enjoyable interactions and just spend time with others.
Though this may be involved in recovery, it makes a very positive difference for stability and satisfaction with life.
Most, if not all, recovered addicts have built a very solid spiritual foundation that they depend upon every single day.
- Engaging in regular, daily prayer or meditation morning and night can be crucial for recovery.
- Also, there are powerful meditational methods that can teach and delve into in our sessions.
4. Physical exercise and nutrition:
Take care of your body, and it will take care of you. Having quality nutrition will fill you with clarity and motivation.
- Physical exercise is an excellent outlet that will give you a rush and increase “feel good” chemicals.
- Combine quality nutrition with exercise, and you have a concoction that will breed success and further your overall happiness.
In fact, some recovered addicts have found that exercise has been one of their keystones when it comes to recovery.
As human beings, we crave creation, and we desire achievement.
- We need to be doing things on a daily basis that we are proud of. Work, school, hobbies, passions, service…these are all the types of things we must have in our lives to feel fulfilled.
- “Sobriety is not about quitting a drug. Sobriety is about creating a new life.”
6. Awareness of your thoughts:
As a recovering addict, and while in recovery, you must learn how to be sensitive, aware and on top of your thoughts.
- When you feel triggered, vulnerable, angry, sad, bored, etc., then you have to learn how to recognize these feelings instantly and find good sources to cope with or overcome these feelings.
- It’s about building new habits, and it all starts with your thoughts.
- You must learn how to channel your thoughts in positive ways, and how to work through negativity or painful thoughts effectively and take away their power.