Addiction

7 Things I Learned About Myself When I Quit Alcohol

Most people don’t understand why someone would choose not to drink anymore.

Cutting Deep: The Truth About Self-Harm

When emotional pain cuts deep, self-harm can feel like the only answer. 

Addiction Recovery Forced Me To Sober Up About My Relationships

That’s the thing about recovery: if you stick with it, it introduces you to yourself.

These Are The Devastating Faces Of Crystal Meth Addiction

“We’re talking about extreme alterations of normal brain function.”

A Hard Pill To Swallow: The Silent Killer In Our Workforce

Deaths from prescription opioids have increased 471 percent among women.

Women Reveal The Struggle Of Living With Sex Addiction

“I have to actively stop myself from having affairs. I fail a lot.”

How I Kicked My Chapstick Addiction (And Transformed My Skincare Routine)

My name is Luisa, and I’m in an unhealthy relationship with my Chapstick.

This Year, I’m Giving Thanks To All Of My Darkest Moments

I’m grateful for the six years I spent drinking to blackout and snorting various substances.

You Are My Worst Addiction

You have the power to dominate my emotions.

8 Reasons To Start Watching Porn

You won’t believe the benefits it can have.

5 Sydney Facials You Need To Indulge In Before You Die

It’s a hard life, but somebody’s gotta do it.

What Happened When I Stopped Taking Selfies

I calculated my selfies were taking around two to three hours a day.

What I Learned When I Went Cold Turkey From Booze

It seems there’s something to this ‘no drinking’ business…

The Science Behind Addiction And How You Can Kick It

Mark Twain said that quitting an addiction to tobacco was easy; he had done it often. But what is an addiction? According to Psychology Today, an accepted definition for an addiction is: ‘a condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities.’

We intuitively know what an addiction is; when a behaviour becomes an addiction is more problematic. Is someone watching television for eight hours a day an addiction? Do two cigarettes a day constitute an addiction? Is gambling £10 a day an addiction?

Quite what causes a treat to lapse into an addiction is open to debate. Addictions such as smoking and drug abuse will arise as some form of biological alteration, where the brain and body decides that it likes a certain chemical and wants more. When an attractive and pleasurable behaviour occurs in the animal brain the neurotransmitter dopamine is released into the system, but the brain can grow to desire more, and the initial hit is not enough – combine that with cues around us such as availability and advertising, and the hit becomes irresistible.

Other addictions may be generated by one’s life situation or state of mind. Behaviours such as polishing off pints of alcohol, placing £100 on Arsenal to win, and purchasing wigs do not seem rational or even comparable, but each may counteract a feeling of emotional stress. That stress might be counteracted by one behaviour, or many; a highly-addictive personality might swap between an uncontrollable need for alcohol or drugs, simply because they must quell the needy parts of their behaviour.

This substitution method at least gives an option for the person desperate to kick a habit. Smokers worldwide, for example, have tried many methods of breaking their addiction such as gums and nicotine patches, with varying results. E-cigarettes however not only recreate the addictive chemical element of nicotine, but also the physical actions of lifting a tool to the mouth and drawing.

It is perhaps no surprise then that sales of patches and gum fell by 3% last year, dropping for the first time since 2008. Meanwhile vaping device sales grew by 75%, thanks to the efforts of scientifically astute companies such as EL-Science, creating an alternative to traditional smoking that’s fun, funky and a viable alternative to smoking.

According to journalist Johann Hari, who has researched drug addiction across the globe, a combination of cues and an unhappy, deprived lifestyle can often be the impetus behind an addiction. His theory, revealed in the Huffington Post, was partially based on experiments on rats that had developed an addiction to drugged water before being placed in more pleasant conditions and subsequently kicking their habits.

Combine that with worldwide evidence that seems to suggest placing people in recuperative, replenishing and pleasant environments to conquer their demons, as opposed to punishing them, and the likelihood of success is higher. Much like prisoners, removing negative cues and giving a sufferer a desire to achieve, and more than anything, human connections, seems to work.

The Ice Epidemic: What Makes Users So Aggressive?

Ice, also known as Crystal Meth, has been blamed for causing many a tragedy. Recently, the murder of Phil Walsh, coach of AFL’s Adelaide Crows, was yet another one. Obviously there’s far more to that particular case than just Ice use, yet from a bystanders perspective it’s hard to imagine any drug fueling that type of rage.

RELATED Understanding Addiction

What’s scary from a public perspective is that violence has become highly associated with Ice and use is reaching epidemic proportions. Paramedics, ER staff and mental health specialists all acknowledge a link does exist between Ice use and violence. So what is it about this particular drug that makers users so aggressive?

I’ve done a bit of research on why Crystal Meth can make users so agro and it does appear to be correlated with various things. Firstly, it’s related to how the drug interacts with chemicals within the brain. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine are affected which predominately relates to impulses, mental processes and the brains pleasure centre. You see, it’s the release of dopamine that makes people feel euphoric, hence why Ice can be so addictive. After all, who doesn’t want to feel good?

What happens after the dopamine is released in Ice users is unlike what occurs with natural dopamine release and reuptake absorption in non-users. Ice users don’t experience reabsorption. Instead, they experience a gradual accumulation, meaning it doesn’t go anywhere and basically just sits there.

The drug also affects other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and epinephrine. These then affect noradrenaline and adrenaline systems which are responsible for our flight or flight mechanisms – the brains chemicals that cause us to experience fear. So given the intensity of this feeling, plus the fact that this drug can last for days, paranoia can easily set in. The brain of an Ice user is in a constant state of preparedness to fight or flee.

Obviously, this isn’t normal and can in itself cause exhaustion. Think of the times when your flight or flight mechanisms have kicked in; and now imagine having that sensation for a prolonged period. Seriously, how exhausting!

The other neurotransmitter Ice affects is serotonin, which is directly linked to emotional well-being. If serotonin is lacking a person can feel flat, depressed, anxious or angry. This isn’t the only avenue where anger enters the equation, however. There are still some other elements.

One is the pre-disposition of the user. If they are generally angry or irritable, Ice can highlight this trait. Then there’s the lifestyle of users; prolonged drug use can cause a heap of social, financial and legal problems. Therefore, most don’t have perfect lives and frustration would be a regular experience. All this can effect their perception, ability to cope, mental health and their environment, given they often mix with other users experiencing similar circumstances.

With this combination of factors all occurring simultaneously it’s easy to see how this drug can fuel aggression, even in the most placid person. If you think about it, it’s hard enough functioning with no sleep let alone neurotransmitters acting abnormally, life at it’s worst and things generally spinning rapidly toward a downward spiral. Eventually somethings got to give – and it does. This is generally when the violence occurs, like a perfect storm of circumstances which have accumulated and then erupted. Unfortunately, though, much of it isn’t rational or proportional and is predominately why this drug is rapidly becoming so deadly.

Image via Herald Sun

10 Signs You’re Addicted To Instagram

First there was Facebook, then Instagram took over our lives and it seems as if it’s here to stay. The photo sharing app has quickly found its way into our phones and hearts.

Whether it’s checking our Instagram feeds, getting jealous of other peoples’ seemingly perfect lives, or spending way too much time arranging the food on our plates so it looks pretty when snapped, we’re all guilty of taking the app a little bit too serious sometimes.

RELATED: Best Of Instagram: The Fashion Industry

If you’re familiar with more than 5 of the following scenarios, I suggest a social media detox for a week or two. Here are 10 signs you’re seriously addicted to Instagram:

1. You can’t remember the last hot meal you had because by the time you’ve snapped the perfect picture of your food, it has cooled down.

2. You use the word “hashtag” to describe situations. #awkies

3. You choose your holiday destinations based on pretty photos you’ve seen on Instagram.

4. Refreshing your Instagram feed is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night.

5. You’ve been late because you couldn’t decide which filter to use.

6. You consider getting the perfect selfie after 37 attempts a success.

7. You get angry at your pet because instead of posing next to your cupcake, it ate it.

8. There are always clothes on your dining table because shooting your flatlays is more important than eating.

9. Getting less than 25 likes on a picture makes you seriously doubt yourself.

10. You don’t think this is funny:

instagram hipster

image via flamingopink.com.au and omgghana.com

10 Signs You’re Addicted To Technology

We all love our phones, laptops and tablets and though we might not like to admit it, we have developed a dependency on our devices since everything has become so accessible. But how much is too much when it comes to technology and do we rely on our devices that little bit too much? We’ve all heard about technology taking over our lives, but perhaps it has already taken over yours and you just don’t know it.

RELATED: Is Technology A Buzz Kill In The Bedroom 

Well, read further to find out if you are too dependent on your devices.

  1. You go to check the time on your phone/tablet and get distracted by a text message or notification that you have to re-check it to find out the time.
  2. You have an app for absolutely everything, if someone mentions it, you whip out your phone/tablet/laptop and show them what you’ve got.
  3. You make your partner wait until you take a picture of his/her food on every. single. date.
  4. Your colleagues know every detail of your weekend before Monday morning because of your social media updates.
  5. You text your partner while you’re in the same house, usually to get you something you didn’t want to get yourself.
  6. You regularly get distracted by social media when you know you should be doing work/cooking dinner/going to the gym
  7. You feel physically anxious, sick and panicky on that off chance you’ve forgotten to take your phone with you or when the battery runs out and you don’t have a charger handy.
  8. You haven’t read a book/magazine/newspaper in a very long time. In fact, you hardly touch paper.
  9. You also haven’t stepped foot in a clothes store since Asos and The Iconic were invented.
  10. Your partner/child/dog comes second to your phone/laptop/tablet.

Being too dependent and addicted to technology isn’t just about our hand held devices. It also includes changing the temperature of the air conditioned instead of adjusting your clothes or driving to work when you know you could be working.

Many times, technology takes first place over living in the moment and having fun, and if you think this is you, you might want to take a technology detox.

Image via brucesallan.com

Are You Addicted To Coffee?

When people think of addicts they don’t picture a person sitting in a cafe drinking coffee. Instead, they imagine the strung-out druggie looking for the next high. Yet I’ll put my hand up and admit I’m definitely an addict. My drug of choice is coffee. That luscious aroma gets me every time. When I say it like that it sounds pretty pitiful, doesn’t it? However, that’s the reality for plenty of coffee consumers.

RELATED: Understanding Addiction

Now, I know I’m not alone and there are plenty of us out there. So how do you know if you’re an addict or a consumer? Well that’s pretty easy. Take a mental note of how many of these questions you answer YES to and read on for the results.

Are you a coffee addict?

1. Do you wake up in the morning and “need” a coffee?

2. Are you cranky and impatient when you haven’t had your morning fix?

3. Do you regularly top up your beloved travel mug before commuting?

4. Do you get frequent headaches or feel tired/lack energy?

5. Does coffee make you feel “normal”?

6. Do you think you’ve developed some sort of tolerance toward coffee?

7. Do you drink or eat caffeine substitutes regularly? eg: tea, cola drinks, iced coffee, energy drinks, chocolate, etc.

8. Do you drink more coffee than plain water each day?

9. Do you fear or think you’d experience withdrawals if you don’t have at least one coffee per day?

10. Do you drink more than 3-4 small cups of coffees per day? (500mg of caffeine)

Results

If you answered YES to most of these questions, you’re likely an addict. The only way to know for sure is to eliminate coffee and caffeine substitutes from your diet – IF you dare! Just like any other drug dependence ceasing consumption of coffee or caffeine will come with side-effects and withdrawal symptoms. These include experiencing the jitters or shakes, headaches, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, flu-like symptoms and nausea.

These symptoms are common for other types of substance withdrawals, including alcohol and illicit drugs. From this perspective, coffee isn’t the harmless beverage many of us consume cup-after-cup each day. It is, in fact, a legalized drug which could be doing more harm than good. This includes the following in order of how coffee can adversely effect us:

  1. Restlessness and nervousness
  2. Increased heartbeat
  3. Nausea
  4. Anxiety
  5. Heart palpitations (cardiac arrhythmia)
  6. Insomnia
  7. Sweating
  8. Dizziness
  9. Vomiting
  10. Cardiac arrest

There have been cases of overdose, plus some people who have consumed far too much caffeine have died as a result.

Benefits of reducing coffee consumption

As you can gather it’s in your best interest to reduce your coffee consumption to a level where your health will benefit. That’s around 300-500mg per day or 4 small cups (or about 2 mugs). Half that is advised for pregnant women. Lucky for us addicts, coffee is good for us but not the socially accepted copious amounts many of us have grown accustomed to.

When we reduce the consumption to a safe and healthy level coffee will continue to be the largest quantity of antioxidant many of us consume. It also contains nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, niacin and choline. If you add milk there’s added benefits of vitamin D and calcium.

Additionally it’s an excellent preventative for liver, colon, prostate, ovarian and oral cancers, stroke, basal cell carcinoma and heart disease. It’s also been linked to prevention of Parkinson and Alzheimer diseases plus Type 2 diabetes. There’s even been evidence of it reducing retinal degeneration.

One tip for reducing your intake is by substitute excessive consumption with decaffeinated coffee instead. If you prefer a mug to a small cup have your 2 real coffees in the morning and substitute the rest. It won’t taste the same but after a while you’ll feel the health benefits and be very glad you made the switch.

Image healthambition.com

How To Beat Facebook Addiction

While you’re glued to your screen, unwilling to miss the next update from your social network, life is passing by. You fail to turn up to your yoga class, you are only half-present for your children and you miss out on precious sleep. Does this sound like you? Here’s how you can stop Facebook from taking over your life.

RELATED: Weekend Wit: The Facebook Phenomenon

Step 1: Commit

If you think it’s time to beat your Facebook addiction, the first thing to do is to commit. Think of all the ways that Facebook is affecting your life in a negative way and feel the pain. Imagine the wonderful things you can do with all the extra time you’re going to reclaim and how amazing you will feel. There’s no harm in exaggerating here, the more you engage your emotions, the more motivated you will be to make a change.

Then make a decision what will be a good alternative to your current habits. Taking a break from Facebook for a set period of time? Checking it once a day? Once a week? Never?

Step 2: Announce your commitment publicly

Let Facebook work for you. Tell your friends what you’re doing and ask them to support you. Just the power of public commitment will make you think twice before you engage on Facebook and if you don’t do what you said you were going to do, your friends will call you out.

Step 3: Take action

Sometimes willpower and no action (staying away from Facebook) is sufficient. Other steps you could take are: cancel your mobile internet, uninstall the Facebook app from your phone, unsubscribe from email notifications, use apps to block Facebook, deactivate your account. I let my mobile data plan expire while I was on an overseas holiday and I never renewed it when I got back. Now I can’t go on Facebook and I can’t send work-related emails when I’m at the playground with my kids, which has made me use my time much more efficiently when I’m in front of the computer at home.

If all this sounds too scary, here’s a word of comfort: it gets easier. No one’s dream is to sit in front of a screen and read Facebook updates. As you persist, you’ll find that you have more appreciation and more energy for the things that really matter.

Image by geralt via pixabay.com

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