Τετάρτη, 26 Νοεμβρίου 2014

5 Things More Addictive Than Heroin



#5 INTERNET

People associate Internet addiction with being a nerd, and once upon a time that was probably true. However, the Internet has changed tremendously in the last twenty years (hell, it’s changed tremendously in the last twenty minutes!) and now it’s considered a huge part of everyday life for people of all walks of life.
Ivan Goldberg was the first to address Internet addiction back in 1995. He compared it to problem gambling in an essay as a bit of a joke, but it got taken seriously by quite a few experts, who have since invested a lot of time into studying the problem.
The broader term of technology addiction is said to date all the way back to the introduction of the radio back in the 1930’s but really, where do you draw the line with something like that? “Technology” and “addiction” are both open to interpretation, so in that sense a caveman constantly using his new rock hammer can be argued as technology addiction.
Apparently, Internet addiction doesn’t exist though. No one is addicted to the Internet service itself. It’s the spin-offs of different types of content and information people get addicted to, like social networking, cybersex, cyber relationships, computer gaming (there you go, that’s the nerd factor) and various other kinds of information that appeal to particular people. In a nutshell, the Internet caters to addictive personalities extremely well.
But reading online content, playing computer games, or watching a high number of videos are only seen as troubling in that they interfere with regular, extra-curricular or social activities. They aren’t physically damaging to someone’s health like drugs and alcohol or other addictive substances are. Therefore, Internet addiction isn’t classified as a clinical condition despite its harmful qualities.
The ‘Catfish’ phenomenon is something that may well gain the addiction a classification one day though. People are attracted to the anonymity of the Internet, and those who suffer social anxiety or general awkwardness tend to gravitate towards cyber relationships, where they can tweak or – in more extreme cases – completely change who they are. This deception can be very dangerous on a whole bunch of levels, not just for the victim but for the anonymous liar too, as this kind of behaviour is addictive and compulsive.
After all that intense chitchat, it’s worth mentioning that evidence suggests Internet addiction is self-correcting. That is, most people who use the Internet excessively seem to curb their habits within a year of the problem starting.

#4 SEX

Well you knew this one would be in here, didn’t you? Sex addiction is obviously the inability to control sexual urges, behaviours and thoughts. It’s a controversial subject in the scientific and therapeutic worlds as every single study they conduct seems to contradict all the other ones, which leads to mass debate over it’s legitimacy as a disorder.
Whether it existed before the seventies or not, it sure wasn’t talked about until then, when members of Alcoholics Anonymous started applying the twelve-step program to other aspects of their lives. A lot of said alcoholics had infidelity issues or other ex-sex-sive (get it?!) behavioral problems, so they would adopt the twelve-step program in the bedroom as a means to bring their habits under control.
Sexual addiction isn’t currently mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a clinical condition, but it is a widely familiar term and therapists of all fields recognize and treat it.


#3 SHOPPING
“Live to spend, dress to kill, shop your way to happiness.” Have you seen that episode of How I Met Your Mother where Lily racks up a huge credit card debt on designer clothing, and is so stressed about it that she racks up an even bigger debt trying to make herself feel better? This is an actual common disorder, and in real-life it’s a lot less funny.
Oniomania (onio means ‘for sale’) has been referred to as an impulse control disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and a clinical addiction… yet the majority of people don’t take this one seriously!
Why not? Everyone acknowledges sex addiction, and people are generally aware that being on our smartphones every minute of the day is a growing concern, so how is inappropriate shopping any different? Think of any time you’ve purchased something to make yourself feel better, to try to define yourself, or because you think you want it despite not needing it, not being able to afford it, or not being able to justify buying it.
We’re not talking about grocery shopping while hungry and inadvertently spending $250 on food you’re going to regret once you get home and eat that sandwich in the fridge. This is people who consistently spend upwards of hundreds of dollars a week on what’s come to be known as ‘retail therapy’.
If anything, it’s a socially acceptable disorder even though it can be hugely damaging to marriages, other relationships, jobs, credit history and general financial situations. Credit cards are an oniomaniac’s worst friend and unfortunately, online shopping, smartphones, and other mediums revolutionizing the way we spend money is merely fueling the fire for debt.
People who have investigated the subject have found sufferers can sometimes relate a retail transaction to signs of affection or approval. This suggests that lonely children who rely on toys or other material things for comfort are more likely to grow up into chronic shopaholics.
If this sounds like you than cut up that credit card, stay offline, and when you go to the shops for groceries just make a beeline for the supermarket!


#2 OVER-EATING
Worried about reading further with this one? Relax, I think we’ve all had our moments on the couch surrounded by chip packets and the gooey remains of ice cream containers.
Compulsive over-eating is to engage in uncontrollable episodes of eating past the point of being full and believe it or not, it’s common for a compulsive over-eater to cancel plans for the following day after one of these episodes because they feel fat.
Compulsive over-eaters experience the same feelings of guilt as bulimics, which suggests the only thing holding this condition back from more professionally-regarded recognition is the lack of fasting, vomiting or laxatives afterwards.
Contrary to popular belief, binge eating isn’t exclusive to overweight or obese people. In fact, people who regularly exercise and stay in shape have been known to frequently splurge and eat way beyond their needs.
Another form of compulsive over-eating is grazing, where a person might not sit there and stuff their face for two hours in front of the television, but will constantly be picking at food throughout the day. This is much less noticeable (not just to others, but to the person him or herself) but still adds up to an indulgent daily intake.
If left unchecked, compulsive over-eating can lead to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea and depression, and if we’re really talking years of stomach abuse here, even kidney disease, arthritis, bone deterioration or a stroke!
But it won’t happen after one bag of Maltesers at the cinemas during whatever superhero movie they’ve remade this week so don’t panic.



#1 GAMBLING 

I left this one until last because not everyone gambles, whereas every adult does eat, shop, use the Internet and (hopefully) have sex. But gambling, or ludomania, is a big one. It’s also the only disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders that isn’t a substance, like a drug.
But really, it is a drug, and it can be just as damaging to a person and their family as the most harmful drugs out there. In fact, Dr. Hans Breiter of the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Emotion Neuroscience Centre said, “Monetary reward in a gambling-like experiment produces brain activation very similar to that observed in a cocaine addict receiving an infusion of cocaine.” Basically, a gambling win actually gives a problem gambler a chemical high the same way a drug does.
Unfortunately for the problem gambler, they usually experience a loss much more often than a win. However, this won’t be the point where they give up and go home because of a philosophy called the gambler’s fallacy, which is the misguided illusion that if you’ve suffered a whole series of consistent losses than you’re about due for a win.
If that were the case, problem gambling wouldn’t have a social cost of $4.7 billion in a year in Australia alone and it wouldn’t be undeniably linked to suicide.
It’s estimated that around 3% of the world population (which is more than the entire population of Brazil) have a problem with gambling and of that 3%, less than 4% seek treatment or any kind of help for their disorder.
For a proper diagnosis, a person must possess at least five of the following symptoms: being consistently preoccupied with gambling, building a tolerance to it and therefore gambling more, withdrawals when not gambling, gambling to escape personal issues, chasing a high by gambling, lying about gambling and therefore risking a significant relationship, losing control over other areas of their life, committing illegal acts as a result of or to continue gambling, and needing a bailout because of gambling.
Most countries have plenty of resources in place to help problem gamblers, and a quick Google search will bring you helpful websites and numbers for help lines in your country. Australians can visit http://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au .

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