KTLA News interviews Dr Reef Karim for relationship and dating advice and on his new book “Why Does He Do That? Why Does She Do That?”
As a welcome to our new website, and place for any information you could be looking for at The Control Center, we want to introduce you to the different types of addiction you or a loved one may be facing.
The Control Center is an integrated outpatient treatment center for behavioral or lifestyle addictions and chemical dependency. By providing the best of medical management, specialty psychotherapy, mental health treatment, relationship therapy, spiritual therapy, nutritional therapy, and psychological testing, we offer a comprehensive protocol for improving self control and managing impulses.
1. Do you have an addictive personality?
Addicted to pills, alcohol, porn, a boyfriend/girlfriend, drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, the internet, food? Our technology has allowed us to become an all access culture causing some people to develop lifestyle addictions.
Reports show that there are several significant personality factors that can contribute to addiction including:
2. Are your behaviors, alcohol, or drug use getting out of control?
More and more people are “acting out” in self-destructive ways or medicating themselves with pills to deal with stress, anger, obsessions, impulses, or feeling out of control.
3. Do you have difficulties with dating and relationships?
Many people have a hard time connecting with others because they are stuck in the same bad habits, patterns, and defenses. In order to be more effective in relationships, we have to understand ourselves – our brains, our habits, our defenses, why we pick certain people, and why we do what we do. Addictive individuals feel highly insecure when it comes to relationships. They may often find it difficult to make commitments in relationships or trust their beloved because of the difficulty they find in achieving long-term goals.
The Tiger Woods situation has put the spotlight on “Sex Addiction” and it currently shines bright. At the office water cooler, in bars, restaurants … people are asking the same question:
Is Sex Addiction for real?
Yes, the term “sex addict” can be conveniently used as a label for a husband who cheats on his wife or a girlfriend who cheats on her boyfriend or a celebrity who needs to go to rehab to “hide out” for a while because he was caught “doing something”. The disorder can be abused and it definitely has moral, political, social, and sometimes even religious implications.
But, it’s not primarily a moral problem, it’s a disorder of out of control feelings and behaviors that can have moral implications.
Sex addiction is not about how much sex you’re having, it’s about why you’re having the sex.
Currently, the term “sex addiction” is not recognized by the clinical manual DSM IV. In the medical field, clinicians and researchers prefer the term “Hypersexual Disorder” or “Compulsive Sexual Behavior” to describe the sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors of a repetitive nature that often present in response to dysphoric mood states like anxiety, depression, boredom, and irritability. A typical person with compulsive sexual behavior has repeatedly tried to control their sexual behavior (masturbation, pornography, sexual behavior with consenting adults, strip clubs, prostitution, cybersex, etc.) but they simply can’t do it. As such, there is significant impairment in their social and/or occupational functioning that produces personal distress. Treatment providers that treat “sex addiction” often see tolerance (needing more and more of the behavior to get the same desired effect), withdrawal effects (anxiety, sleep difficulties, body aches, chills, headaches, etc.), a failure to fulfill role obligations, and many other symptoms commonly seen in chemical addictions.
Sex addiction epidemiology studies reveal approximately 3-6% of the population have the disorder. Unfortunately, because there’s not a lot of double-blind placebo controlled research studies on hypersexual disorder, the topic’s existence is under debate in the medical community. Some physicians do recognize the intense suffering and loss of relationships, marriages, jobs and even one’s freedom because of the disorder. Other physicians, however, feel that the disorder is simply made-up to justify bad behavior.
A few research studies on the topic of sex addiction have revealed executive function deficits (working memory, attention, cognitive flexibility, impulsivity, problem solving ability, etc.) in some sex addicts. Research studies measuring impulsivity have found significant differences in sex addicts vs. non sex addicts.
Obviously we need more research to solidify the existence of the disorder in the medical community but one thing is for sure, many people are suffering and could get help if they could overcome the shame, guilt, and stigma associated with their behaviors and symptoms.
Sex addicts come in many varieties which complicates the diagnosis. Some sex addicts are primarily impulsive, others are more obsessive, many have suffered trauma and many (60-70% according to some studies) have co-morbid psychiatric disorders (disorders that co-exist with sex addiction including clinical depression, anxiety disorders, ADHD, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and eating disorders.)
So back to the original question: Sex Addict or Player?
Let’s analyze a typical “Player”. A player is usually a man or woman who needs to connect with a member of the opposite sex in order to validate themselves and at least temporarily provide more self worth. The validation usually doesn’t last very long and it often needs to be fed on a regular basis by many different people which is why players move on from person to person. The typical player is thinking short term and is usually pretty insecure, doesn’t handle rejection very well, has a narcissistic tone about them, and needs to be validated to feel worthy. The player status of some individuals is just a “phase” for attention while others sometimes end up being lifetime players unless they get some help from friends, family, or a therapist.
A “Sex Addict” likewise needs validation and is probably quite insecure and has difficulties with self worth. The difference, however, the typical “sex addict” is sick … and has significant difficulties establishing emotional intimacy and connectedness with others. They become desperate for connection and it plays out in their sexual behaviors that help them to cope/distract or escape from their suffering. Additionally, many sex addicts have mental health impairment that may be driving the sexual addiction.
It may take a good clinical interview, psychiatric assessment, psychological testing, and a full assessment/evaluation to really determine if someone is a “sex addict”. The threshold is high and the treatment is difficult.
A player, on the other hand, tends to be quite a bit healthier than a sex addict. They will still have problems with intimacy and self worth but they can usually hide behind their charm and function fairly well.
So, the next time someone says “that guy’s not a sex addict, he’s just a player” … the odds are they’re right. But remember, some “players” are actually “sex addicts” that have gone undiagnosed and need help.
Dr. Reef Karim
Everywhere you go these days, you cannot escape the sight of someone talking, texting, or playing on their cell phones and we are constantly flooded with media messages regarding the necessity of buying or upgrading to the new and “improved” mobile device or downloading the “just-can’t-live-without-it” app.
Cell phones are no longer just a communication device. The never-ending options for apps allow us to do anything we could ever dream of, like flip a computer-generated coin, translate the cry of an infant, and even date a virtual girl (yes, that’s right, there exists a “pocket girlfriend” app!). Indeed, cell phones have become a regular staple in the lives of most of us and we are able to stay plugged in to anything at anytime and from virtually anywhere. However convenient this all is, we need to ask ourselves the following question: At what point is this actually interfering in our lives and what are we sacrificing in order to be connected 24/7?
According to an article in Tech News Daily, our relationships with our phones might be affecting us more than we realize and therefore, we might be sacrificing more than we know. Tech News Daily reported on a Stanford University study which found that out of 200 students surveyed “75 percent admitted to falling asleep with the iPhone in bed with them” (Hope, 2010). Really?!? So, not only are our phones consuming our conscious, waking moments, but they are also infiltrating our subconscious, sleeping hours! Takao, Takahashi, and Kitamura (2009) explained it best when they stated that mobile phone use can cause “a serious problem for an individual’s social life and work life” (p. 501).
Have you ever caught yourself asking things like, “Why hasn’t he texted me back?” or “When is she going to call me?” or “What does he mean by that text message?” or “What does she think of me after I posted that comment?” These kinds of questions could lead to nervousness, insecurity, self-doubt, and sadness. We may end up obsessively checking our phones for responses or re-reading our sent messages. If taken to the extreme, we might even end up triggering underlying psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, alexithymia (a deficiency in understanding or processing emotions), lack of control, attention difficulties, and emotional dependence (Takao, Takahashi, & Kitamura, 2009; Jenaro, Flores, Gomez-Vela, Gonzalez-Gil, & Caballo, 2007).
The social consequences of cell phone overuse are also significant. They might include loneliness or social dysfunction because we would rather communicate electronically and hole ourselves up at home playing Angry Birds than spend face-to-face time with others. We may find that we are being hypervigilant about how we virtually portray ourselves or we may experience a constant need for approval and become disappointed or even angry if all three-thousand of our Facebook friends don’t “like” our most recent post. (Takao, Takahashi, & Kitamura, 2009; Jenaro, Flores, Gomez-Vela, Gonzalez-Gil, & Caballo, 2007). Some people have even lost relationships (hence, the coined term, “iPhone widow”) or a job because we are more concerned about our phone activity than our significant other or our livelihood!
So, what does this excessive cell phone use mean for us as intelligible, thinking creatures? Well, in short, having an app for everything enables us to not have to know or learn or do anything for ourselves. Kids no longer need to learn the periodic table of elements or memorize the names of our past presidents – they can just download the appropriate app for that. Adults no longer need to plan what presents to get for their friends’ or family members’ birthdays – there’s an app for that too. Furthermore, adults no longer need to read a newspaper article, even when it is displayed on their phone – there’s an app that will read it for them. And come on, an app that translates the cry of an infant?!? So, not only will we no longer need to be intelligent, but we won’t even have to have basic human instincts anymore either! Sounds great … or does it?!?
And what does this excessive cell phone use mean for us as a culture? It seems like we are so concerned with downloading apps or updating our status on Facebook that we are willing to be completely oblivious to everyone around us! While sending texts or posting messages may, in fact, be easy, in the long run we may be lessening our ability to organically interact with one another face-to-face. What are we going to do if we have to talk to another individual in person?!?
Ultimately, it seems like man does have a new friend. Friends were once considered individuals with whom we had things in common, with whom we wanted to spend time, to whom we enjoyed physically talking, and around whom we enjoyed being. Unfortunately, now man’s best friend is a little, rectangular box that merely does anything we want. And this basically means that we no longer have to worry about learning new information or skills, doing anything for ourselves, or interacting with other people. Ah, the cell phone … made by machines, for machines.
Dr. Erika Widera
The Control Center
Addiction and Mental Health Specialist, Relationship Therapist
Hope, D. (2010). iPhone Addictive, Survey Reveals. Tech News Daily. Retrieved
August 24, 2011 from http://www.technewsdaily.com/iphone-addictive-survey-
Jenaro, C., Flores, N., Gomez-Vela, M., Gonzalez-Gil, F., & Caballo, C. (2007).
Problematic internet and cell-phone use: Psychological, behavioral, and health
correlates. Addiction Research and Theory, 15(3), 309-320.
Takao, M., Takahashi, S., & Kitamura, M. (2009). Addictive personality and
problematic mobile phone use. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(5), 501-507.
We are currently in a prescription pill epidemic.
More than 7 million Americans reported current use of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in 2010 while the reported number of fatal drug overdoses has almost doubled since 1999 with the majority being due to prescription pills. It’s rampant in our news, media, and seems to follow us everywhere we go.
Celebrities are one of the most idolized groups of people by young adults, making their actions a strong predictor of behavior we should expect to see in today’s youth. Nearly 1 in 12 high school seniors reported non-medical use of Vicodin; 1 in 20 reported abuse of OxyContin. When asked how prescription narcotics were obtained for non-medical use, 70% of 12th graders said they were given to them by a friend or relative (MTF 2011).
With statistics like these, it seems like we will need to have a serious talk with our children about the dangers of medications.
There are three key factors that are driving the abuse of prescription drugs in children.
1. Misperceptions about their safety. Because these medications are prescribed by doctors, many assume that they are safe to take under any circumstances. This is not the case. Prescription drugs act directly or indirectly on the same brain systems affected by illicit drugs. Using a medication other than as prescribed can potentially lead to a variety of adverse health effects, including overdose and addiction.
Now a days, teens are partying using potluck-style drug exchange. Everyone brings prescription pills from their home medicine cabinet, put it in a bowl and then everyone draws a pill, not knowing what it is, what it does or what it was intended for.
2. Increasing environmental availability. Between 1991 and 2010, prescriptions for stimulants increased from 5 million to nearly 45 million and for opioids from about 75.5 million to 209.5 million. This is an incredible jump which should be taken very seriously.
3. Varied motivations for their abuse. Underlying reasons include: to get high; to counter anxiety, pain, or sleep problems; or to enhance cognition. Whatever the motivation, prescription drug abuse comes with serious risks including death.
Lets all make an effort to help those around us and make sure that we can begin to curb prescription drug abuse epidemic.
Dr. Reef Karim, head of The Control Center of Beverly Hills, weighs in on the ADHD drug shortage, its over-prescribing and remedies while governmental controls are in flux.