It’s not easy – and you can do it.
Let your phone cover do the talking.
It’s a hard life, but somebody’s gotta do 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.
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.
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
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.
Well, read further to find out if you are too dependent on your devices.
- 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.
- 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.
- You make your partner wait until you take a picture of his/her food on every. single. date.
- Your colleagues know every detail of your weekend before Monday morning because of your social media updates.
- You text your partner while you’re in the same house, usually to get you something you didn’t want to get yourself.
- You regularly get distracted by social media when you know you should be doing work/cooking dinner/going to the gym
- 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.
- You haven’t read a book/magazine/newspaper in a very long time. In fact, you hardly touch paper.
- You also haven’t stepped foot in a clothes store since Asos and The Iconic were invented.
- 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
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.
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)
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:
- Restlessness and nervousness
- Increased heartbeat
- Heart palpitations (cardiac arrhythmia)
- 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.
Are you unable to put down your smart phone? Maybe over eating or drinking is your problem? Perhaps you’re indulging in too many prescription pills? Whether someone is overcoming an illegal or legal addiction is irrelevant. Most addictive behaviours can be treated similarly and have a similar pattern and path. Once these are understood, it is much easier to overcome any type of addiction.
Addiction in it’s most basic form, is excessive behaviour. The difference between regular behaviour and an addiction, is that regular behaviour can be ceased without distress and can be absent from ones life, without causing a significant impact.
In today’s society we have many behaviours than can easily lead to addictions. The following scenario depicts an addictive behaviour, associated with mobile phone use.
You hear the tone of your phone go off during a funeral. Instead of switching it off or declining the call; you choose to pick it up and start a conversation. You therefore need to answer your phone, regardless of your physical situation. In this instance, you may have an addictive behaviour attached to the use of your mobile phone.
Why this person felt inclined to answer the call, could have been, for one of two reasons. Either they did it automatically and neglected to notice their surroundings or they felt an overwhelming compulsion to answer it. In the later, they may have needed to answer the call to relieve distress or considerable discomfort they felt, when the phone rang.
This would have occurred through conditioning. Behavioural Psychologists such as Pavolv and Skinner, did extensive research into how behaviours were learned, maintained and extinguished. This has been exceptionally helpful in the field of addiction.
According to behavioural psychologists, the first step toward changing behaviour, is recognising it. For example; alcoholism can’t be treated without the drinker being aware they have a problem. So if you or someone you know has a problem that goes unnoticed; the behaviour isn’t likely to change.
Once the behaviour is recognised as being excessive, measures can be taken to correct it. In most cases this will involve acknowledging and understanding triggers which lead to the behaviour. Triggers are those things in life which prompt a behaviour. Using the scenario above; the ring tone would be considered the trigger and answering the phone, the conditioned behaviour.
Once a behaviour is learned and has been maintained, it can be difficult to extinguish. Maintenance usually occurs so the person can avoid the negative consequences of avoiding the behaviour. For example, alcoholics and drug abusers maintain their addiction, by knowing they need to ingest their desired substance, to avoid withdrawal.
Avoiding negative consequences can be a powerful maintenance tool. Once this is overcome, the process of extinguishing can commence. This involves avoiding the behaviour and reprogramming the conditioning process. With the mobile phone scenario, an example of reconditioning could involve ignoring the ring tone so it diminishes the conditioned behaviour. It may cause the person considerable discomfort to initially ignore the tone, but after a time, it would become much easier.
To alter the behaviour to answer the phone only when appropriate; the tone should be changed and the behaviour of only answering at specific times, would be practised. This would encourage a less addictive behaviour. Similar practices are done with food intake, such as eating only at the table or designating food free zones, such as the lounge room, where people often snack on unhealthy foods.
In theory, overcoming addictions is quite simple. However, emotions complicates the process. If you view an excessive behaviour as a conditioned, rather than emotional behaviour, your chance of overcoming it will be increased.
By Kim Chartres
Have you ever broken out into a cold sweat when you’ve misplaced your iPhone or left home without it? Or have you cried bitter tears if you’ve ever damaged your beloved iPhone beyond repair and then couldn’t get a replacement within an hour? Did you experience an actual stab of physical pain? Do you still get a buzz when you see “sent from my iPhone” on the end of your emails? And, are you akin to a crack addict each time Apple releases its next, new model iPhone?
Girlfriend, I hate to be the one to break it to you – but, like me, you might be a tad too enamoured with your smartphone. And we’re not alone – news has just hit that Apple sold 35.2 million iPhones in just three months, according to the company’s recently released, new fiscal third-quarter report.
This new smartphone technology – thank you, Apple – has revolutionised the way we do business, for one. Now, you can easily organise your entire working life via the swipe of a fingertip. What’s more, smartphones bridge the gap with loved ones, helping us to much easier connect, anywhere, at any time.
There’s a lot to love about the new technologies, but can they also prove too much of a curse? Are we so obsessed with our iPhones that we’re damaging our relationships by constantly checking our phones morning, noon and night? Are we missing out on experiencing actual joy, with real-life humans, around us? Are we so busy Instagramming everything we see, eat and experience, that we’re losing touch with our loved ones? Then there’s the extreme lack of social etiquette and unkindness of having your head buried in your palm, when your husband, mother, business colleague or child is talking to you.
I recently read about a big society wedding at which guests had to surrender their iPhones pre-ceremony, not to be returned until reception end. Inspired idea, I thought – but I’d find that hard to do, myself. So, is our intense consumer devotion to the iPhone an actual addiction?
Psychologists differ on their thoughts on the subject, but say it is possible to develop an iPhone addiction, although the impact would not be anywhere near as dire as in the health impact of alcoholism, or financial impact as with gambling. It’s more about the social impact, such as the negative impact on our relationships.
And, as with addiction to drugs or cigarettes or food, the chemical driver of our iPhone mania is said to be the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. Right, I must fly – I’ve got to check my Twitter/Instagram and email!
What do you think? Is our iPhone fixation a negative or a positive?
Image via www.pixabay.com