Shopping Addiction Issues Increasing Among Men

Can men really suffer from a shopping addiction?

Just like drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, and compulsive eating, shopping addiction affects women and men. Although you may not think of men as shoppers like women (stereotype!), shopping addiction issues are increasing among men in our society.

shopping addiction

It seems that because of the stigma surrounding shopping, fewer men than women come forward to admit a problem and to seek treatment for uncontrollable shopping behaviors. A similar stigma is also true in the case of eating disorders. Men appear to feel more shame around these types of addictions or disorders than women do, and then most men feel around alcoholism or a sex addiction.

So what constitutes a shopping addiction? Well, “compulsive shopping” and “compulsive buying” involve chronic episodes in which the individual experiences an inability to control his or her shopping or buying behavior.

An occasional splurge is common among most people, and does not necessarily indicate a shopping addiction, but when the urge to splurge, and to shop in general becomes more frequent and constant, the existence of a shopping addiction needs to be explored. When the desire to shop and buy starts taking away from time spent working, enjoying other activities, or spending time with loved ones, the behavior has interfered with everyday functioning, and may be clinically diagnosable at that point.

Have you ever been feeling sad, or insecure for whatever reason, and you really wanted to go shopping? To browse and find something to spend money on because you feel like it will make you feel better? When you find something that’s maybe out of your normal price range, and you really shouldn’t be spending that kind of money right now, but you buy it anyway, does that purchase make you feel better? Usually no, right? You may feel a bit of a euphoria, or a high, from getting something that is brand new and that you love, but that effect wears off quite quickly and you are either brought back to neutral, or you are still sad or feeling less than confident. Compulsive shoppers and compulsive spenders experience this cycle over and over again.

The American Journal of Psychiatry reports that 1 in 20 people living in the United States, suffer from the symptoms and behaviors of compulsive shopping.

Women have been more recognized as engaging in shopping behaviors, but the prevalence of this behavior is increasing among men. It seems a part of the gender misconception is that men tend to buy more “practical” items that have higher costs, whereas women seem to buy less expensive items more frequently. The types of items purchased are typically different. Female shopping addicts tend to buy personal and home items (clothing, makeup, shoes, bags, jewelry, decorations) while male shopping addicts tend to buy electronics, tech items, car gadgets, athletic gear, and overall bigger ticket items. Is there a difference though?

As shopping addiction issues increase among men in our country, the importance in understanding the disorder becomes more obvious. Like any other addiction, the possibility of an addiction exists for everyone. The psychological component of a shopping addiction is the same for men and women. Many experts in the field site a lack of emotional comfort in childhood, a need to gain control, difficulty or complete inability to tolerate difficult emotions (fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, depression, boredom, etc.), perfectionism, excitement or approval seeking, an innate propensity for impulsive and compulsive behavior, and a lifelong or long-term desire to fill an empty inner void as reasons for the development of compulsive shopping or buying, and a shopping addiction.

If you can relate to this, or you can see these qualities in someone you love, seeking treatment is important. Like drug addiction, the sooner the diagnosis can be made, the sooner the symptoms of shopping addiction can be treated. Don’t let gender be a factor in getting the help that’s needed.

Contact The Control Center to find out how their behavioral addiction treatment program can work for you!

2018-08-23T06:37:33+00:00May 10, 2015|Behavioral Addiction, The Control Center|

Could There Really Be A Cure For Cokeheads?

Cocaine

Cocaine, the party drug of the 1980s, never went away, even more than two decades later. This wake-me-up stimulant is still used by millions of people and it’s more than just a recreational drug. Users really get hooked on it, even if they think they can just party with the white powder a couple of times. Cocaine is highly addictive. It’s right up there with heroin and cocaine’s more deviant cousin, crack cocaine.

So far, no one has been able to crack the problem of a medical treatment for cocaine addiction. Heroin addicts have Buprenorphine and Naltrexone. Alcoholics have Antabuse and Campral. What’s a poor cokehead to do? Just slog it out in rehab with no medication? Never fear, researchers are close to a vaccine, and maybe even an antidote, for cocaine addiction.

Vaccine Prevents Mice from Getting High

Vaccines have long been used to prevent us from getting infections. The idea is to trigger the immune system to act against a particular virus or bacterium. The same idea is being applied to cocaine. A recent study from the Scripps Research Institute demonstrated that a vaccine used in mice could trigger the animals’ immune systems to attack cocaine. The result? When the mouse is administered a dose of cocaine, its immune system destroys the compound before it can get to the brain and get the animal high. If an addict gets no high from cocaine, he will have no reason to take it. Of course, the addict would have to agree to get vaccinated, but if he did the medication could prevent him from relapsing.

This was not the first research team or the first project to work on a vaccine against cocaine, but earlier efforts weren’t very effective. The Scripps team used a protein from bacteria, called flagellin, to help trigger the immune system and put it on the attack against cocaine. Flagellin has been used in other medical vaccines, and so far shows the most promise for a vaccine that targets a drug.

What About an Antidote?

Another research group, this one from the University of Copenhagen, thinks it has found the key to creating a cocaine antidote. The key lies in dopamine transporters in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is related to feelings of pleasure. It is a reward chemical that motivates us to repeat behaviors, like taking cocaine. Dopamine transporters are like vacuums for the neurotransmitter. When stimulated, they clean up excess dopamine. Cocaine inhibits the transporters, which results in a flood of the feel-good chemical.

The Danish researchers recently reported on some interesting discoveries about the structure of the dopamine transporter and how inhibitors act on it. They found other compounds that, like cocaine, inhibit the transporter. However, these other inhibitors attached to the transporter in a closed form. The result was that they had the opposite effect of cocaine and produced no flood of dopamine. With these discoveries, the researchers are certain they can come up with a new inhibitor drug that could counteract cocaine and help addicts avoid relapsing. The overall effect would be similar to a cocaine vaccine in that the drug user would no longer get a high from cocaine if they took the antidote.

The latest cocaine research is exciting, but it is important to understand there is no cure for any addiction. If you’re hooked on snorting cocaine, you need still have to go through all the therapy and group support that will help you work out your inner demons. But if you could supplement that with a vaccine or an antidote, you could have a really useful took for staying clean.

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/mp500520r

http://healthsciences.ku.dk/news/news2015/danish-researchers-one-step-closer-towards-a-cocaine-antidote/

2018-08-23T06:38:35+00:00April 29, 2015|Drug Addiction, Substance Abuse, The Control Center|

Can Your Sleepless Teen Turn Into A Substance Abuser?

Sleepless Teen

 

Can Your Sleepless Teen Turn Into a Substance Abuser?

If you’re the parent of a teen, you have a lot of things to worry about. Will he fail math this semester? Will he get into college? Is that new friend of his a racist, or is it just me? How much your teen sleeps or doesn’t sleep might be low on your list of concerns, but there is new research that says you better prioritize it. If you know teens at all you know they don’t sleep enough. They stay up too late texting, or if you’re lucky, studying, and then they have to be to school by 7:30. How can they possibly be getting enough sleep? They’re not and they are at risk for substance abuse as a result.

The Problem of Sleep

Surveys and polls tell us what we already know: teenagers don’t get enough sleep. As much as 45 percent of young adults get too few hours of sleep each night. Even youngsters are struggling. Up to 27 percent of children and pre-teens are not sleeping enough either. Then there are the teens who may want to sleep, but have symptoms of insomnia. Ten percent of teens report having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep every night. You have probably heard that adults should aim for between six and eight hours of sleep every night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens should be getting more than nine hours every night.

Sleepiness Leads to Substance Abuse?

There are some pretty obvious consequences for your teenager when she doesn’t get enough sleep. Her memory and concentration at school suffer. Her mood becomes even more volatile than normal. She may eat too much or eat more junk food in her dazed and sleepy state. A new study has found that the results of poor sleep can be even more serious.

The research comes from psychologist Maria Wong and her colleagues at Idaho State University. They analyzed data from questionnaires and interviews conducted with over 6,000 adolescents who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The data were collected over three different time periods. The researchers looked for sleep problems and tiredness in one time period and substance abuse issues in the next time period. They controlled for any teens that were already abusing substances during the first period of data collection.

What the researchers found was that having sleep difficulties during the first period correlated significantly with problematic drinking and drug use in the second period of surveys. Those teens that didn’t sleep enough or had symptoms of insomnia were more likely to binge drink, drive while under the influence of alcohol, to be sexually active because of drinking and regret it later, and to use illicit drugs.

This study was not the first to make a connection between lack of sleep and later substance abuse, but it is important in a couple of ways. First, previous studies looked at kids in groups already at a high-risk for substance abuse, while this study included a nationally-representative sample. And, the current study included both insomnia and insufficient sleep, while previous work focused only on insomnia.

What Can Parents Do?

The results of the study are troubling, and yes, they give you yet another thing to worry about as a parent. The good news is that you can play an important role in teaching your teen about sleep and to have good sleep hygiene. Share and model good sleep hygiene like not using mobile devices before bed and setting a regular sleep schedule. If your teen shows signs of insomnia, consider seeing your pediatrician or a sleep specialist. You know how serious the consequences of inadequate sleep can be, so take steps now to make sure your teen is sleeping like a baby every night.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150117104310.htm

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep

2018-08-23T06:42:05+00:00October 10, 2014|Health and Wellness, Substance Abuse, The Control Center|

Are You Having A Drynuary?

drynuary

After the party-filled nights (and days too, let’s be honest) of the holiday season, and particularly that New Year’s Eve bender, a lot of us are rethinking our drinking. After weight loss and exercise, cutting back on alcohol is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. It makes sense, after all. You’re realizing that waking up with a pounding head, a spinning room, and a tongue plastered to the roof of your mouth is not the way to live. You might even be starting to think you have a slight and growing problem with your old friend the bottle.

If you feel this way, you’re far from alone. There is a growing trend to participate in Drynuary, a dry January, to reset the liver and the spirit. Could you go booze-free for a month? No glass of wine with dinner, no wind-down drink after a hard day at the office, and no cocktails on girls’ night out. It seems like a good, restorative choice, especially if you feel you imbibe too much, but are the positive effects of Drynuary worth the efforts?

In a scientific, if not clinical, trial, several staffers at the magazine New Scientist tried a month of alcohol-free living and measured their health outcomes to find out if it was worthwhile. The question is: can short-term abstinence have any positive health effects? What they found was encouraging. The staff members answered a health questionnaire, gave blood samples, and underwent ultrasounds to measure fat on the liver. This was all conducted under the supervision of health care workers at the Royal Free Hospital, London.

Repeating the tests after five weeks free of alcohol, the ten staffers found that they had achieved positive health gains. On average, they lost 15 percent of fatty liver deposits, a precursor to liver damage. They also saw an average reduction in blood sugar levels of 16 percent and blood cholesterol levels of five percent. They even lost a little weight. The participants also reported more subjective improvements. On the questionnaires they reported significant improvements in quality of sleep, work performance, and concentration.

No other study, academic or otherwise, has tested the impact of short-term alcohol abstinence. Plenty of research, however, has pinpointed all the ways in which drinking to excess can harm your health. Heavy drinking can lead to addiction, causes accidents, and has been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer in women. Cutting back on alcohol reduces these risks.

There is no question that abstaining from drink for a month could make you feel better, and the intrepid journalists who tried it certainly saw some benefits, but we have no idea if these benefits are lasting. We also don’t know if going totally alcohol-free for one month will cause people to drink less generally after the abstinence or if the participants go straight to the bar on February first and undo all their efforts.

If you want to try giving up alcohol for a month, it is a worthy and worthwhile effort, but don’t use Drynuary as an excuse to go on a bender in February. You would be better off cutting back on your drinking overall and avoiding binge drinking. Step away from the bar a couple nights a week and go out for a jog instead, or spend some time with friends at a coffee shop. Trade in your hangovers and next-morning regrets for better health and a better sense of self.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129502.600-our-liver-vacation-is-a-dry-january-really-worth-it.html?full=true – .VK1geyvF_w0

2018-08-23T06:42:48+00:00August 6, 2014|Health and Wellness, The Control Center|

Shopping Addiction & Compulsive Buying: A Growing Concern In America

Shopping

“When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again.” Have you seen the movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic? The main character, Rebecca Bloomwood, played by Isla Fisher, says that line to describe why she loves to shop.

Sophie Kinsella wrote a series of novels that lead to the script that follows a young woman who cannot stop shopping. While the story is fiction, there is so much truth to the concept and to that simple quote. Shopping becomes a drug, and the user needs a constant fix.

The fact that a movie like this was made, and did well, shows just how much shopping addiction and compulsive buying are a growing concern in America.

The high Rebecca feels when buying something is temporary. She sees that even though the world gets better and feels better when she compulsively buys, that it is temporary and she needs another shopping spree to make her world feel better again. It’s a vicious cycle of ups and downs based on something completely external. Does this sound familiar?

About 6% of people in the United States have some form of a shopping addiction. With a population of almost 314 million, that’s over 18 million people.

Instead of buying clothes and other stuff when it is actually needed, people are shopping as a recreational activity. Clothes and shoes are needed for everyday life, yes, but think about how much you are able to wear at one time. Now think of how many items in your closet you absolutely love. What is all the rest there for?

Think about the reason you bought certain pieces that are in your closet right now. Did emotions drive you to make that purchase? Are there feelings still connected to certain articles of clothing Would you say that these emotions and feelings are healthy?

Unhealthy patterns progress and it seems that shopping is a cure for anything difficult to handle these days. Are you having trouble coping with a painful breakup, or loss of a job or friend? Go buy yourself something nice. Are you bored? Go shopping. Sad? Go buy yourself something to cheer you up. It can also go the other way. Are you feeling great? Did you do something well? Go shop a little. Promotion at work? Go reward yourself for a job well done.

So what exactly diagnoses a shopping addiction or compulsive buying? Well, do you feel unable to stop? When you are on your way to buy something, do you feel that you shouldn’t be stepping foot into that store? Do you know that a shopping spree right now will mess up your finances, but you want to do it anyway? Are you buying things that you want instead of items that you need?

If you feel your behavior is out of control, you want to stop but you cannot, and you need help to make shopping and buying changes, you may be diagnosable. In any case, finding out how to stop is an important step. Just like an alcoholic or drug addict, abstinence is a very real part of recovery from shopping addiction and compulsive buying.

Treatment centers that help people recover from drug, alcohol, and behavioral addictions, like gambling and love/sex addiction, also treat shopping addiction and compulsive buying. A formal assessment is a great way to find out more.

The treatment team at The Control Center will help determine what treatment is best for you. Call now 877.813.2974 and start building a better life!

2018-08-23T06:44:36+00:00October 10, 2013|Health and Wellness, Mental Health, The Control Center|

Amanda Bynes Comes Clean On Eating Disorder

eating disorder

Amanda Bynes comes clean: she has an eating disorder. How does she announce it? As only a young Hollywood lady can, by posting pictures of herself on Twitter with majorly self-degrading comments.

She used to seem like a sweet, well-balanced, talented actress, getting work all the time. Starring on TV shows and in movies, carrying a whole film, but recently she has taken a turn for the worst.

In February, when she weighed in at 121 lbs, Amanda felt that was Tweet-worthy, and it seems that was when she established her target weight. She had just moved to New York, and her Twitter followers learned that, “I lost four pounds since I moved. I’m 121 pounds — my goal is 100 pounds.”

Amanda celebrated her birthday in early April and then Tweeted that “I have an eating disorder, so I have a hard time staying thin.”

An April 30th Tweet, “About to put on makeup! I weigh 135, I’ve gained weight! I need to be 100 lbs!” was paired with a picture of Amanda in a bra and leggings.

At 5’8” tall, 27-year-old Amanda can weigh between 122 and 164 pounds to still be considered within a healthy range. Obviously if she got down to 100 lbs she could be considered frail and unhealthy. What is keeping her from seeing that?  A disease that tricks you by perception?

It appears Amanda Bynes truly has an eating disorder, and she knows it, so many are asking why isn’t she in treatment? Why isn’t someone stepping in and helping Amanda get help? Where are her family and friends? Has the disease convinced her to push everyone who cares about her away? Denial is a powerful mental tool when you need it.

These Tweets are only some of the unsettling messages Amanda has made public. The list goes on. Some are quite vulgar and others are sad.

Many professions would agree – this young woman is screaming for help.

Advice to Amanda, and other women like her: Girl, stop Tweeting! Stop sharing everything with everyone. The help you need will not come from a Twitter follower. Instead, talk to somebody you trust, and if that somebody does not exist right now, call and find help.

The problem is, an eating disorder can consume your thoughts and behaviors. You can feel like you must gain control this aspect of your life because you don’t have control over any other part, and perfectionism is very real too.

For young women in the Hollywood spotlight, staying a certain size and trying to remain relevant to the masses is competitive, but may come as part of the job description. We’ve heard reports of what growing up in the public eye can do to a girl. Britney Spears, Drew Barrymore. Jodie Sweetin (who played Stephanie on the show Full House.) And now Amanda Bynes. The pressure is too much. Without a developed identity, these young women seek external validation and never seem to feel “good enough.”

Eating disorders, and substance abuse issues, are attempts at filling the void. Convincing yourself that, by setting a goal weight and working toward being a certain size, you are taking control of your life, is simply backwards.

Drew Barrymore, per reports and interviews, is a great example of someone who got help and made changes so she could live a healthy life. We cannot do it alone though.

Amanda Bynes needs an intervention. A chance to get healthy. Formal treatment could save her life, and show her how detrimental her current lifestyle will be long-term.

Can someone in her life persuade her to seek eating disorder rehab before anything else life-changing happens?

2018-08-23T06:45:22+00:00July 10, 2013|Behavioral Addiction, Health and Wellness, The Control Center|

Lindsey Vonn Makes Light Of Tiger Woods’ Sex Addiction

 What makes a relationship really official? Facebook! What makes a relationship really official? Facebook!

Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn each put a message up on Facebook confirming the rumors of their relationship. Not that it was a secret, but the couple felt it was time to let the world know that the two are an item.

If you remember back to 2009 when Tiger fist got busted for cheating on his then wife Elin, the media was going crazy with reports of all kinds. Alleged mistresses and lovers were coming forward, different places were listed that Tiger Woods had been spotted with so and so, and other celebrities were weighing in on the situation, as if they knew what is going on. People love to chime in on the distress of others, and ironically enough, Lindsey Vonn was no different.

In 2010, Lindsey was quoted in Time magazine mocking Tiger Woods and his indiscretions. She was quoted as saying, “Yeah, you’re awesome, you go have that sex.” and “There’s something you don’t know about me. Tiger, you’re like my idol, and I too have a sex problem.” She even had a little Saturday Night Live sketch idea that made fun of the way Tiger announced what was going on with him and his marriage and how he apologized publicly for it.

She was with a group of friends after an Olympic event, just enjoying some down time, and was overheard making the jokes. She did not go out of her way to make a public statement, or to openly express her opinions of Tiger Woods, so it seems he was not too upset by it.

Although Lindsey Vonn was not the only one to make light of Tiger Woods’ sex addiction, it certainly is humorous that the two are now dating, especially since they were both married at the time. Within the two years after the scandal and Lindsey’s comment, each were going through a formal divorce. Lindsey is the first woman Tiger has been in a relationship with since his marriage to Elin.

It appears that since the two are high-profile athletes, they have an understanding of where the other person is coming from, and there is a mutual respect for the level of competition within their individuals sports that the other has reached. So does Lindsey respect Tiger’s sex addiction? Does she take it seriously? She does not seem to have made any further public comments about it, but she must now understand the extent of a sex addiction if she is in a committed relationship with someone who has been formally diagnosed and treated for one.

Tiger Woods was cheating on his wife. He got caught. Does that make him a sex addict? Maybe, but is most important is that he got the help he needed to stop engaging in behaviors that were destructive to himself, to his profession, to his wife, to his family, and to his public image.

For many people who have become involved in similar situations, and who end up losing everything that once meant something to them, rehab has provided the environment that allows them to change and choose a different way of life. It appears to have done the same for Tiger Woods. If he is choosing to be monogamous and he is carrying that out, then he is honoring his commitment when not too long ago he was not living with the same integrity.

Formal treatment for sex and love addiction can help you, or a loved one, figure out how to go about making the desired changes that can lead to a more satisfying life.

An individual treatment plan identifies your unique set of needs in treatment so you can learn the most helpful coping skills and strategies for handling difficult cravings and triggers, and start your road to recovery from a harmful addiction.

The intensive outpatient program at The Control Center does just that. Contact the center today to find out more!

photo credit: ctankcycles via photopin cc

2018-08-23T06:46:51+00:00May 1, 2013|Sex Addiction, The Control Center|

Prescription Drugs And The NFL

 Prescription drugs + pro football players = a problem!

Prescription drugs + pro football players = a problem!

The NFL (the National Football League) has not been identified in the same way as baseball and steroids, but new reports are surfacing that prescription drug abuse is a major problem among the league’s players.

If you think about it, these are grown men who are putting their body through physically grueling games and practices every week for 17 weeks (with one week off per team.) The amount of injuries, even seemingly small, require a certain level of pain management. Many players would not be able to continue performing at the high level that the NFL demands without a weekly pain reduction.

Also, just from playing in a game, without any actual injuries caused, takes a brutal toll on the body. Recovering from such a high-impact sport can take most of the week, and then there is another game, and that does not include any practices. So, to be game-ready within 6 days, most players are prescribed various medications, whether for pain or for overall physical recuperation.

The problem: the medications prescribed, and most notably prescription painkillers, are among the most addictive of any substance around. Over-the-counter pain medications do not even begin to alleviate the pain these men are experiencing, and the dosage a 250-pound linebacker would have to ingest to feel any pain relief could send his liver into immediate shock.

Another part of the problem is that prescription painkillers do not just kill physical pain. Any emotional or psychological pain is also dulled, or completely relieved. What has happened to many NFL players is that when a physical injury has healed and the pain is no longer present, the lack of the prescription painkiller causes more than just a physical craving. Psychologically the person still wants the effects of the medication. All pain feels much more intense when it has been absent for an extended period of time.

Several well-known NFL players have become addicted to prescriptions like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Norco, codeine, or morphine. A study out of the school of medical at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, found that 52% of the NFL players who were surveyed, had used opiates (or opioids) during his career, and of those men, 71% self-reported “misuse” of the prescription painkillers.

A few players came out to say that pain, playing through pain, and doing what you have to do to overcome pain, is an understood part of the professional football player’s job description. Your career may be short, and there are younger guys always waiting to take your position.

A real danger among professional football players is the combination of prescription painkillers with anti-inflammatory medications like Toradol. The effects of each drug, even when taken at separate times, run the full spectrum on the body and brain. Toradol is injected directly into a muscle for best results, and longest pain management. Players even report taking Toradol in pill form every Sunday, just in case an injury happened during the game.

Is prescription drug abuse rampant in the NFL because it has to be, or will people continue to be negatively affected long-term, leading the league to do something about the drug problem? The team physician for the St. Louis Rams has discontinued use of Toradol for his players. Will other teams follow suit?

Several team physicians say that the pain is real, and if the team doctor can not help manage the pain, the players will seek relief elsewhere, and what will they find? Instead of worrying about what drugs the players will take, at least the substances prescribed in-house are controlled.

What can be done to offer players quick pain relief, but in a way that will not lead to an addiction? It seems a solution is still to be determined.

For players who need to continue playing and training, but who want to stop abusing drugs, and for anyone cannot afford to be away from life, the intensive outpatient program at The Control Center is the solution. There are other ways to address pain, and to heal from whatever lead to a prescription drug addiction.

photo credit: Jason Poulton

2018-08-23T06:49:05+00:00April 10, 2013|Drug Addiction, The Control Center|

Chinese Man Has Spent Past Six Years At On-Line Cafe

Online Activity

Imagine sitting in the same chair, doing the same activity for 2,190 days in a row.

One Chinese man has spent the past 6 years at an online cafe, only occasionally leaving for food, and for a random shower. He sleeps at the cafe during the day, if he gets tired, but otherwise he is generally engaging in online activity. This man, Li Meng, even pays the cafe a monthly rent as you would for an apartment.

6 years at one place, doing the same activity over and over every day. Based on news reports, Li has clearly not had a haircut during his time at the cafe, but he makes enough money from at least some of the online activity to support his life.

According to reports, Li finished college, but instead of going on to find a job like the rest of his peers, as is expected of young men his age, Li chose to start frequenting the internet cafe and engaging in online activity for money.

Internet addiction, as we diagnose it in United States at least, is an alarming problem in China.

China has tried putting a stop to the high levels of online gaming that have occupied the time of way too many young people throughout their country. Camps were set up to discontinue Internet addiction one individual at a time. Allegedly parents take their kids to these camps where violence is used to “cure” the young person of an Internet or online gaming addiction. In a country that sees about 80% of its young population suffering from a desire to constantly be online, and that has a total population of 450 million people, online gaming is without a doubt a growing problem in China.

So is there harm in kids spending a lot of time online? What about Li Meng’s lifestyle choice? Is he hurting anyone? Is he hurting himself?

Behavioral addictions seem much harder to define than substance addictions, don’t they? If someone is drinking to the point of intoxication every night, and has been arrested for drunk driving, and has been abusive to family members while drunk, that addiction to alcohol is clearly harmful to the person who is drinking, and to those around the alcoholic. But what about someone like Li Meng, or the millions of young people in China, and around the world, who are involved in various online activities a majority of their lives? The consequences and ramifications of an Internet or gaming addiction are not as clear.

No one who has been interviewed at the online cafe has really heard Li speak much, so it is not known what Li’s relationship is like with his family. It can be assumed that if Li is basically living at the cafe, and people do not see his family with him, then his relationship with family members must be at least somewhat estranged.

Internet and online gaming addiction diagnosis can follow the general umbrella criteria that are used to identify a drug addiction.

  • Has the individual experienced a loss of control over use of a substance or over a behavior?
  • Is the person obsessed with use of a substance, or with engagement in a behavior?
  • Does the individual continue to use even after experiencing negative consequences directly, or indirectly, from the use of a substance, or the involvement in a behavior?
  • Even when the problem is evident, is the person still in denial?
  • Is a powerful tendency to relapse his or her reality? Has the person tried to stop or slow down use of a substance or frequency of a behavior, but the use also returns?

Help is available for online Internet addiction. The intensive outpatient treatment program at The Control Center helps clients learn and practice tools for recovery in real time, while continuing their daily schedule. Find out how you can participate and change your behaviors.
photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

2018-08-23T06:52:12+00:00April 10, 2013|Behavioral Addiction, The Control Center|

Are You A Relationship Addict?

 Heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and relationships. Do you feel like one of these is not like the other?

Heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and relationships. Do you feel like one of these is not like the other?

Heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and relationships. Do you feel like one of these is not like the other?

You may be surprised to find out that all four of these “substances,” along with gambling, Internet activity, shopping, eating, and many more behaviors can all be equally detrimental when they have reached the point of addiction.

Are you a relationship addict? Do you have an intimacy disorder, or an attachment disorder? Let’s find out together.

The following questions are drawn from information in the book, Addicted to Love, by Stephen Arterburn.

  • Were you abandoned or rejected in some way as a child?
  • Have you been the victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse?
  • Do you feel unloved by the world at large and by everyone around you?
  • Are you constantly feeling overwhelmed by the requirements of everyday life?
  • Do you worry constantly? Are you fearful of daily events?
  • Have you set standards for yourself that are too high to ever attain?
  • Do you feel you must be perfect to ever be “good enough” for someone else to truly love you? Are feelings of inadequacy real for you?
  • Have you attempted to fix someone you’ve been romantically involved with?
  • Are you staying with partners for too long in an effort to save them?
  • Do you find yourself attracted to needy people? Does their neediness make you feel like they will not leave you, and you will not get hurt?
  • Are you attracted to emotionally abusive or distant people?
  • Does an emotionally-stable person make you anxious or uncomfortable? Does it scare you to think of being in a relationship with someone healthy who would be strong enough to live without your love?
  • Have you attached to partners quickly? Does attraction lead right to a relationship?
  • Do you stay with a partner because it is better to be with them, then to be alone?
  • In comparison to those you’ve dated, do you seem like the emotionally-stable person? Does that bring you joy or comfort in any way?
  • Do you walk on eggshells, hiding your own opinion about things, to keep the other person calm and happy?
  • Can you honestly say that your efforts to help a partner are selfless, or do your actions in some way always serve you and your need to be loved?
  • Are you aware of your own needs? Do you need to be needed?
  • After periods of keeping your emotions and opinions bottled up, do you lash out with anger? Are outbursts followed by guilt, remorse, and a need to mend the relationship? Why? Fear of abandonment?
  • Are you afraid to ask anyone at all for help with relationships?
  • Does it cause great internal discomfort to think about someone helping you? Does it make you feel “less than”?
  • Do you sometimes think that you will never find a truly loving relationship?
  • Does every new and exciting relationship make you think things will be different this time? Are they ever different?
  • If anything goes wrong in a relationship, do you blame yourself?
  • Do you feel like an outcast?
  • Think about your last relationship: did you appear subservient and giving, but really you held all the power and control?
  • Do you feel like you’re on a never ending search for happiness?
  • Does conflict in a relationship cause you to shut down and become depressed?
  • When you are not in a relationship, do you find yourself engaging in compulsive behaviors? (gambling, eating, shopping, etc.)
  • Do you doubt every decision you make, even down to the smallest, everyday tasks?
  • Are you constantly guessing what your partner wants so that you don’t have to ask? Does it make you feel like a better partner if you guess correctly?
  • If you have difficulty expressing your own needs, do you eventually get angry with a partner for not knowing what you need and not fulfilling your needs?
  • Could you possibly be trying to compensate for what you did not get as a child, by manipulating others to get what you want?
  • Do you act strong to compensate for a weakness?

Whether you answer yes or no to these questions may not matter. It is more important to explore how answering these questions made you feel.

What thoughts, feelings, and reactions surfaced for you?

If you are a relationship addict, or if you have an intimacy or an attachment disorder, you are not alone. If you have come to the end of your own strength, you need help, and that is okay.

The Control Center’s intensive outpatient program helps thousands of people like you who need to heal while continuing to work or attend to other responsibilities. Start recovering today!

2018-08-23T06:53:55+00:00March 10, 2013|Behavioral Addiction, Mental Health, The Control Center|