Posts Tagged ‘Addiction’

The Truth About Addiction

July 4, 2017

Addiction-Cover-1
What is Really Behind Addiction?

Ever notice how frequently the word “addict” is used? Just do a Google News search on the word and you’ll be shocked at just how often it’s used in a headline. Articles are plastered with mentions of drug addicts, sex addicts, gambling addicts, food addicts, shopping addicts, work addicts and internet addicts. “These people” are painted as out-of-control and often menaces to society who need to be stopped, jailed, medicated or otherwise cut off.

But what if those diseased people weren’t sick at all? What if you suddenly realized you were one of them? Well, that’s what happened to me. In preparation for this podcast, I realized I’m an addict. I’m an addict who comes from other addicts, who has passed it onto my kids, too. I’m constantly looking for a way to not be with myself, a way to avoid the pain that I have, of not having meaningful bonds.

A Different Way of Looking at Addiction

Physician and best-selling author, Gabor Maté, shares the shocking truth about what causes addiction and the things we can do to address the problem. What’s cool about Gabor is that he avoids quick-fix thinking when he tackles things like addiction, ADHD, sickness and the human spirit overall. Rather, he shines lights on the often uncomfortable truths that live at the root of these things.

Born in Hungary, Gabor survived the Holocaust, became a doctor and worked for over 20 years with patients with hard-core drug addictions, mental illness and HIV before writing In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, When the Body Says No, Scattered Minds, and Hold on to Your Kids (you can learn more on his website drgabormate.com).

Our brief but information-packed conversation even helped me understand why I love podcasting. These conversations  are sort of accelerated intimacy that create quick bonds with each person I talk to and anything that helps me bond, lessens the painful void I have from having that very thing growing up.

I remember hearing somewhere that the purpose of life is to create meaningful connections with others. After this conversation with Gabor, I know you’ll have a new point of view of exactly why that’s so important and how and why we as individuals, families and cultures have strayed so far from it.


Addiction Specialist Dr Gabor Mate.

The Opposite Of Addiction is Connection

Do Stronger Human Connections Immunise Us Against Emotional Distress?

Right now an exciting new perspective on addiction is emerging. Johann Harri, author of Chasing The Scream, recently captured widespread public interest with his Ted talk Everything You Know About Addiction Is Wrong, where he concluded with this powerful statement:

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. – Johann Harri

These sentiments are augmented by a growing number of experts, including addiction specialist Dr Gabor Maté, who cites ’emotional loss and trauma’ as the core of addiction. Compare this ’emotional loss’ to Johan Harri’s idea about lack of connection and it is clear they’re talking about a similar emotional condition.

Limbic Resonance

If connection is the opposite of addiction, then an examination of the neuroscience of human connection is in order. Published in 2000, A General Theory Of Love is a collaboration between three professors of psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco. A General Theory Of Love reveals that humans require social connection for optimal brain development, and that babies cared for in a loving environment are psychological and neurologically ‘immunised’ by love. When things get difficult in adult life, the neural wiring developed from a love-filled childhood leads to increased emotional resilience in adult life. Conversely, those who grow up in an environment where loving care is unstable or absent are less likely to be resilient in the face of emotional distress.

How does this relate to addiction? Gabor Maté observes an extremely high rate of childhood trauma in the addicts he works with and trauma is the extreme opposite of growing up in a consistently safe and loving environment. He asserts that it is extremely common for people with addictions to have a reduced capacity for dealing with emotional distress, hence an increased risk of drug-dependence.

How Our Ability To Connect Is Impaired By Trauma

Trauma is well-known to cause interruption to healthy neural wiring, in both the developing and mature brain. A deeper issue here is that people who have suffered trauma, particularly children, can be left with an underlying sense that the world is no longer safe, or that people can no longer be trusted. This erosion (or complete destruction) of a sense of trust, that our family, community and society will keep us safe, results in isolation – leading to the very lack of connection Johann Harri suggests is the opposite of addiction. People who use drugs compulsively do so to avoid the pain of past trauma and to replace the absence of connection in their life.

Social Solutions To Addiction

The solution to the problem of addiction on a societal level is both simple and fairly easy to implement. If a person is born into a life that is lacking in love and support on a family level, or if due to some other trauma they have become isolated and suffer from addiction, there must be a cultural response to make sure that person knows that they are valued by their society (even if they don’t feel valued by their family). Portugal has demonstrated this with a 50% drop in addiction thanks to programs that are specifically designed to re-create connection between the addict and their community.

Personal Solutions To Addiction

“Ask not why the addiction, but why the pain.”
– Gabor Maté

Recreating bonds is essential in the long term, but human connection is crucial in in the immediate task of clearing trauma. When a person decides to finally face and feel the pain that they may have been avoiding for years or decades, the first steps cannot be done alone.

“You have to be with that pain, but you have to have support.”
– Gabor Maté

This support is essentially the reintroduction of the care and support which is so important in creating the neural structure of emotional-resilience in early life. By doing so, we begin to replace what was missing, and thanks to the revelations of neuroplasticity we now know that you can in fact teach an old dog new tricks; neural rewiring is possible in adult life. Though it is essential for addicts to feel supported in order to finally face and feel the pain they have been trying to avoid, this is ultimately an inner journey that must be taken by the individual.

“Whatever you do, don’t try and escape from your pain, but be with it. Because the attempt to escape from pain creates more pain.”
The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying

The Roots Of Healing

When we are young, our parents care for us until we are able to do it for ourselves, after all they won’t be there to do it for us forever. Perhaps, on an emotional level this is also true: our parents love us so that we may learn to do it for ourselves. The programs in Portugal have demonstrated that addicts do remarkably well when they feel valued by their community. Whether they realise it or not, the Portuguese are creating positive limbic modelling by valuing the addicts so they can learn to value themselves. When people are there to provide loving support for an addict wishing to face the emotional pain they carry, they are loving them and caring for them until they can learn do love themselves. With this in mind, perhaps the neural-wiring of emotional resilience developed through the loving reflection of another, once fully developed, could simply be called self-love.

Info sourced from: Sam Lawrence on Tuesday September 6th, 2016
http://upliftconnect.com/what-causes-addiction/
http://upliftconnect.com/opposite-addiction-connection/

Strategies for Cutting Sugar Addiction

May 24, 2015

sugar
If you can’t seem to kick the sugar habit, you might want to start. There are many strategies to cut your addiction to sugar, but these 15 tips are some of the best methods!

Refined sugar contributes to a variety of negative side effects like tooth decay, a weakened immune system, cancer, mineral deprivation, liver damage, insulin resistance, weight gain, premature aging, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, mood swings and hyperactivity (among many others).

Of course, not all sugar is created equal. When I talk about sugar, I mean highly-processed, refined sugar you buy in a grocery store. I am not talking about fruit sugar, which is processed by the body in a hugely different respect, and helps prevent all of the above mentioned rather than encourage it. Please, keep the fruit in your life! I have been raw vegan for 5 years, and much of my diet consists of fruit and leafy greens, and I feel younger and more vibrant every morning!

Here are 15 strategies to cut your addiction to sugar:
1. Cut back slowly

If you go cold turkey, you are more than likely to binge on everything sugar after a couple days. Cutting back slowly, by say, adding half a teaspoon of sugar to your tea instead of 1 or 2, is more reasonable than stopping altogether (or if you eat one bar of chocolate every day, cut back to half a bar, etc.). Eventually you will find that you don’t want as much sugar, and breaking the addiction will come naturally.

2. Don’t fall for sugar-free

Sugar-free items are often loaded with artificial sweeteners, which are cancerous, disease-causing and essentially the worst thing you could be putting in your body. In fact, artificial sweeteners increase your appetite and cravings for sugar (because your brain gets confused, it signals you are giving it “sweet” but isn’t fully satisfied, so continues craving), which in the end, will have you gaining more weight than you otherwise might not have wanted.

3. Read food labels

Many processed foods (canned, boxed, bagged), are loaded with sugar – food items you would have never thought possible. Sugar manages to make its way into crackers, breads, cereals, soups, condiments and so many other store-bought manufactured products. Read your labels, and make sure sugar content is below 1-2 grams per serving.

4. Beware of sneaky sugar names

Sugar isn’t always labelled as “sugar” under ingredients. It has many other forms, like sugars ending in -ose (sucrose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, galactose, lactose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), glucose solids), cane juice, dextrin, maltodextrin, dextran, barley malt, beet sugar, corn syrup, caramel, buttered syrup, carob syrup, brown sugar, date sugar, malt syrup, diatase, and golden syrup.

5. Add flavour with sweet herbs

There are some pretty interesting herbs out there, like vanilla, and cinnamon that possess hints of sweetness and can satisfy strong sugar cravings. The bonus with cinnamon is that it regulates your blood sugar and controls your appetite. Experiment with cocoa, citrus zests, and other herbs to maximize flavour, while cutting back on sugar.

6. Don’t drink your sugar

Drinking your sugar is one of the easiest, and fastest ways to consume it without even thinking twice about it. Sodas, flavoured waters, and sports drinks are all loaded with massive un-necessary sugar content that you can swig back in no time. Instead of these sugary drinks, make flavoured water with different fruit and herbal infusions.

7. Dump processed bread products

Most commercial bread products contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup, which is highly responsible for the obesity epidemic today. In fact, processed bread can have sugar contents as high as 3 grams per slice! Two slices of toast for breakfast can equal the equivalent sugar content as a candy bar. Skip the bread, and instead make a fruit smoothie! It will satisfy you longer, and make you feel much more alive.

8. Keep candies and sweets out of the house

When they aren’t in your house, you won’t be as likely to eat them! Get rid of any candy or sweets in your house and replace them with fruit – your new habit will be much better for you, and you won’t be tempted to reach in your cupboard for something sweeter (medjool dates make a great “candy” substitution).

9. Stop adding sugar to your recipes

One of the easiest ways to reduce refined sugar consumption would be to stop adding sugar to your recipes! Casseroles, soups, sauces, vegetables, you name it – they often call for sugar. Instead, you can substitute applesauce, mashed bananas or pureed dry fruit in baking, or you can simply cut the sugar in half, or not even add it at all!

10. Make your own condiments or don’t use any at all

Condiments are often loaded with sugar. Take ketchup, for example. This common household condiment contains over 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon. That is a ridiculous amount of sugar for such a small serving size. Anything ranging from ketchup to relish, to barbecue sauce and salad dressings, are all loaded with sugar. Make your own, so that you know just how much sugar you are consuming.

11. Eat enough healthy fat

Eating enough healthy fats will prevent you from craving highly-processed (“empty”) nutrient-deprived carbs like rice, white bread and white pasta. If you aren’t fuelling your body properly, it will resort to the fastest calorie source, regardless of nutrient value, which means anything from pies, pastries, donuts, cookies, white bread or white pasta.

12. Exercise beats sugar cravings

Exercising regularly actually helps beat sugar cravings. Exercising vigorously for just 20 minutes a day will encourage endorphin release and dopamine production. Why is this so significant? Daily bingeing on sugar repeatedly releases dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (the reward centre of the brain), similar in the way a drug addict’s brain will release dopamine each time they partake in drug use.

So basically, exercising will excite dopamine production in the same way sugar does, so the next time you are craving some sugary goods, go exercise for awhile and you will find that your craving will disappear. And when you’re done exercising, make a healthy fruit smoothie with some added greens to fully satisfy your brain’s glucose requirement, and to replenish your muscles.

13. Drop fancy teas, coffees and hot chocolates

If you are addicted to the daily routine of latte’s and sugar-loaded teas and hot chocolate, then you may want to substitute it with something else. There are great coffee substitutions that you can easily whip up in no time, as well as the option of making your own beverages at home. This way you can track how much sugar you are putting in your drinks, and you can also opt for immune-boosting honey instead (make sure it is raw, and local), or unrefined coconut sugar.

14. Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep under your belt is another crucial factor in ensuring you don’t reach for the nearest cookie jar. One of the negative side effects of sleep deprivation is that our ghrelin levels increase (hormones that make you feel hungry), while our leptin levels decrease (hormones that make you feel full), setting up a perfect scenario for over-eating when tired.

Lack of sleep is often correlated with a preference for sweeter foods, mainly because our brain is fueled by glucose, and so to keep us awake throughout the day, it desperately seeks out any source of fast, easy sugar access. So make sure you get enough sleep, and if you don’t get enough sleep, at least make sure only healthy carbohydrate-rich options are at your reach, like bananas, dates, mangoes, or any other fruit!

15. Eat leafy greens and fruit

Leafy greens, whether you eat them in salads, press them in juices or blend them in smoothies are a great way to retrain your tastebuds and detox your liver from years worth of sugar consumption. Usually when our brain is craving refined sugar, we are instinctually craving what our body needs most – FRUIT! Fruit contains beneficial sugars that our body can recognize and use in their true, raw form, as well as vitamins and minerals that we require to function at our absolute best!

Article sourced from: http://livelovefruit.com/strategies-to-cut-your-addiction-to-sugar/
Read more at http://livelovefruit.com/strategies-to-cut-your-addiction-to-sugar/#XcdbLwJezLSrfU4D.99

Harvard Scientists Studied the Brains of Pot Smokers … the Results Don’t Look Good

January 18, 2015

stringio

The news: Every day, the push toward national legalization of marijuana seems more and more inevitable. As more and more politicians and noted individuals come out in favor of legalizing or at least decriminalizing different amounts of pot, the mainstream acceptance of the recreational use of the drug seems like a bygone conclusion. But before we can talk about legalization, have we fully understood the health effects of marijuana?

According to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from Harvard and Northwestern studied the brains of 18- to 25-year-olds, half of whom smoked pot recreationally and half of whom didn’t. What they found was rather shocking: Even those who only smoked few times a week had significant brain abnormalities in the areas that control emotion and motivation. “There is this general perspective out there that using marijuana recreationally is not a problem — that it is a safe drug,” said Anne Blood, a co-author of the study. “We are seeing that this is not the case.” The science: Similar studies have found a correlation between heavy pot use and brain abnormalities, but this is the first study that has found the same link with recreational users. The 20 people in the “marijuana group” of the study smoked four times a week on average; seven only smoked once a week. Those in the control group did not smoke at all. “We looked specifically at people who have no adverse impacts from marijuana — no problems with work, school, the law, relationships, no addiction issues,” said Hans Breiter, another co-author of the study. Using three different neuroimaging techniques, researchers then looked at the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala of the participants. These areas are responsible for gauging the benefit or loss of doing certain things, and providing feelings of reward for pleasurable activities such as food, sex and social interactions. “This is a part of the brain that you absolutely never ever want to touch,” said Breiter. “I don’t want to say that these are magical parts of the brain — they are all important. But these are fundamental in terms of what people find pleasurable in the world and assessing that against the bad things.” Shockingly, every single person in the marijuana group, including those who only smoked once a week, had noticeable abnormalities, with the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala showing changes in density, volume and shape. Those who smoked more had more significant variations. What will happen next? The study’s co-authors admit that their sample size was small. Their plan now is to conduct a bigger study that not only looks at the brain abnormalities, but also relates them to functional outcomes. That would be a major and important step in this science because, as of now, the research indicates that marijuana use may cause alterations to the brain, but it’s unclear what that might actually mean for users and their brains. But for now, they are standing behind their findings. “People think a little marijuana shouldn’t cause a problem if someone is doing OK with work or school,” said Breiter. “Our data directly says this is not so.”

This article was sourced from: http://mic.com/articles/87743/harvard-scientists-studied-the-brains-of-pot-smokers-and-the-results-don-t-look-good Written by Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

Sweet Poison – sugar, it never fully satisfies our cravings.

August 12, 2014

addiction
In the last 24 hours, I’ve drunk several cups of coffee, each one sweetened with a sugar cube. I’ve eaten a bowl of porridge sprinkled liberally with brown sugar and I’ve enjoyed on three separate occasions, a piece of my date and apple birthday cake, to which the chef tells me he added one cup of castor sugar.

This is pretty standard fare for me (birthday celebrations notwithstanding) and although occasionally I fret that my sugar intake is perhaps a little high and that I should reign it in or else risk all manner of health problems down the track, I continue to indulge my sweet tooth. Although after listening to David Gillespie present at Happiness & Its Causes 2011, I’m seriously thinking I really do need to wean myself off the white stuff.

Gillespie, a former lawyer, is the author of Sweet Poison: why sugar makes us fat, whose thesis is that sugar, or more specifically fructose (of which folk are consuming, on average, about one kilo a week), actually does much more that pack on the kilos. It also makes us physically ill and exacts a significant toll on our mental health.

What we’ve come to identify as sugar is actually a combination of two molecules: fructose and glucose, the latter an indispensable element to the body’s healthy functioning. As Gillespie explains, “The glucose half is fine. It’s more than just fine; it’s vitally necessary for us. We are machines that run on the fuel of glucose.” Indeed, all the carbohydrates we consume – and which for most of us constitute about 60 per cent of our diet (everything else is proteins and fats) – are converted to glucose.

Fructose, on the other hand, is not metabolised by us for fuel but rather converted directly to fat. As Gillespie says, “By the time we finish a glass of apple juice, the first mouthful is already circulating in our arteries as fat.” But even worse than that, fructose messes with those hormonal signals which tell us we’re full so that we keep on eating sugary, fatty foods.

Two hormones in particular are affected, the first one being insulin “which responds immediately to the presence of all carbs except fructose,” says Gillespie. “When insulin goes up, appetite goes down. So insulin tells us, ‘all right, you’ve had a meal, stop eating’. Fructose does not provoke a response from insulin and in fact, over time, it makes us resistant to the signals we do get from everything else we eat.”

Leptin is produced by our fat cells and works as our “on board fuel gauge” in that the more fat cells we have, the more leptin we produce and the less hungry we are. The problem with fructose is it “makes us resistant to that signal,” says Gillespie.

And yes, this leads to all manner of health problems including Type 2 Diabetes and its associated symptoms including lethargy, blurred vision and skin infections, and what Gillespie says is “significant damage through something called glycation”, the destruction through the excessive production of so-called AGEs (advanced glycation end products) of our skin’s elasticity which causes hardening of our arteries and brittle skin, both unmistakable signs of ageing. Gillespie also cites some biochemistry studies that have found fructose accelerates the growth of pancreatic cancer tumours.

These are just some of the physical effects. The addictive quality of fructose means it’s also a bit of a downer and that’s because of how it interferes with the balance of two feel-good hormones in the brain, dopamine and serotonin. Gillespie explains, “It significantly ramps up our dopamine (released when we anticipate pleasure) at the expense of our serotonin (released when that pleasure is delivered).” In other words, it never fully satisfies our cravings, and as anyone who’s battled an addiction knows, unfulfilled cravings are never much fun.

Article sourced from: http://www.thinkandbehappy.com.au/eating-way-health-happiness/

Are you Addicted to YOUR Smartphone?

November 20, 2012

Why smartphones hook us in, plus tips on reclaiming your time and concentration.

By Susan Davis               
WebMD Feature

I’ll admit it: I check my smartphone compulsively. And the more I use it, the more often the urge to look at it hits me.

In the orthodontist’s office. Walking my kids to school. In meetings. Even while making breakfast. Sometimes it is in my hand before I even know what I’m searching for. Sometimes I tap the screen absent mindedly — looking at my email, a local blogger, my calendar, and Twitter.

I’m not the only one struggling with this very modern compulsion. According to a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, 46% of all American adults now own a smartphone — up a whopping 25% from 2011.

And smartphone use can get very heavy. In a study of 1,600 managers and professionals, Leslie Perlow, PhD, the Konosuke Matsushita professor of leadership at the Harvard Business School, found that:

  • 70% said they check their smartphone within an hour of getting up.
  • 56% check their phone within an hour of going to sleep.
  • 48% check over the weekend, including on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • 51% check continuously during vacation.
  • 44% said they would experience “a great deal of anxiety” if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week.

“The amount of time that people are spending with the new technology, the apparent preoccupation, raises the question ‘why?'” says Peter DeLisi, academic dean of the information technology leadership program at Santa Clara University in California. “When you start seeing that people have to text when they’re driving, even though they clearly know that they’re endangering their lives and the lives of others, we really have to ask what is so compelling about this new medium?”

Hook or Habit?

Whether smartphones really “hook” users into dependency remains unclear.

But “we already know that the Internet and certain forms of computer use are addictive,” says David Greenfield, PhD, a West Hartford, Conn., psychologist and author of Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyber Freaks, and Those Who Love Them.

“And while we’re not seeing actual smartphone addictions now,” Greenfield says, “the potential is certainly there.”

A true addiction entails a growing tolerance to a substance (think drugs or alcohol) so you need more to get “high,” uncomfortable symptoms during withdrawal, and a harmful impact on your life, Greenfield says.

Computer technologies can be addictive, he says, because they’re “psychoactive.” That is, they alter mood and often trigger enjoyable feelings.

Email, in particular, gives us satisfaction due to what psychologists call “variable ratio reinforcement.” That is, we never know when we’ll get a satisfying email, so we keep checking, over and over again. “It’s like slot machines,” Greenfield says. “We’re seeking that pleasurable hit.”

Smartphones, of course, allow us to seek rewards (including videos, Twitter feeds, and news updates, in addition to email) anytime and anywhere. Is such behavior unhealthy?

That really depends on whether it’s disrupting your work or family life, Greenfield says.

Such a disruption could be small — like ignoring your friend over lunch to post a Facebook status about how much you’re enjoying lunch with your friend.

Or it could be big — like tuning out an distressed spouse or colleagues in a meeting to check email, or feeling increasingly stressed by the fact that everyone else seems to be on call 24/7, so we perhaps we should be, too.

Other researchers are seeing clear signs of dysfunction, if not an “addiction.”

According to a 2011 study published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, people aren’t addicted to smartphones themselves as much as they are addicted to “checking habits” that develop with phone use — including repeatedly (and very quickly) checking for news updates, emails, or social media connections.

That study found that certain environmental triggers — like being bored or listening to a lecture — trigger the habits. And while the average user checks his or her smartphone 35 times a day — for about 30 seconds each time, when the information rewards are greater (e.g., having contact info linked to the contact’s whereabouts), users check even more often.

The Interrupted Life

Besides creating a compulsion, smartphones pose other dangers to our mental life, says Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

“The smartphone, through its small size, ease of use, proliferation of free or cheap apps, and constant connectivity, changes our relationship with computers in a way that goes well beyond what we experienced with laptops,” he says. That’s because people keep their smartphones near them “from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed, and throughout that time the devices provide an almost continuous stream of messages and alerts as well as easy access to a myriad of compelling information sources.

“By design,” he says, “it’s an environment of almost constant interruptions and distractions. The smartphone, more than any other gadget, steals from us the opportunity to maintain our attention, to engage in contemplation and reflection, or even to be alone with our thoughts.”

Carr, who writes extensively in The Shallows about the way that computer technology in general may be diminishing our ability to concentrate and think deeply, does not have a smartphone.

“One thing my research made clear is that human beings have a deep, primitive desire to know everything that’s going on around them,” he says.

“That instinct probably helped us survive when we were cavemen and cavewomen. I’m sure one of the main reasons people tend to be so compulsive in their use of smartphones is that they can’t stand the idea that there may be a new bit of information out there that they haven’t seen. I know that I’m not strong enough to resist that temptation, so I’ve decided to shun the device altogether.”

Managing Your Smartphone Use

Can’t give up your phone altogether? Experts suggest these steps to control your usage:

  • Be conscious of the situations and emotions that make you want to check your phone. Is it boredom? Loneliness? Anxiety? Maybe something else would soothe you.
  • Be strong when your phone beeps or rings. You don’t always have to answer it. In fact, you can avoid temptation by turning off the alert signals.
  • Be disciplined about not using your device in certain situations (such as when you’re with children, driving, or in a meeting) or at certain hours ( for instance, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.). “You’ll be surprised and pleased to rediscover the pleasures of being in control of your attention,” Carr says.

One group of business people at The Boston Group, a consulting firm, discovered just that when they participated in an experiment run by Perlow.

As described in her book, Sleeping with Your Smartphone, the group found that taking regular “predictable time off” (PTO) from their PDAs resulted in increased efficiency and collaboration, heightened job satisfaction, and better work-life balance.

Four years after her initial experiment, Perlow reports, 86% of the consulting staff in the firm’s Northeast offices — including Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. — were on teams engaged in similar PTO experiments.

To manage my own smartphone well, more smartly, I weaned myself away from it.

I started by not checking it for 15 minutes at a time, then 30, then 60 (unless I was dealing with an urgent situation).

I decided to avoid using the web browser on the smartphone unless I truly needed information (such as an address or phone number).

And I swore off using social media on it entirely. I also made a firm commitment to not text, email, or surf the web on my smartphone while driving.

The result? Even after a few days of this self-discipline, I found that I was concentrating better, more aware of my surroundings, and more relaxed — and I was more aware of when I was looking for something specific, as opposed to just looking for some kind of connection.

If you’re addicted to your smartphone, latest survey says you’re not alone

Smartphone addiction

Do you use your smartphone in the loo? No, don’t tell me! If you think you’re alone, just check out how attached some people are to their mobiles. These stats were taken from a report issued by the UK’s independent communications regulator (Ofcom) but they apply equally to most of the people I know who have phones. Which is everyone I know.

37% of adults and 60% of teenagers have confessed to being highly addicted to their smartphones, with some even admitting to actually naming their phones. Can you imagine waking up in the morning and, reaching for your Blackberry, going: “Good morning Betty – what will we be doing today?”

The lunacy continues:

  • 22% of adults and 47% of teenagers answer their smartphones whilst in the toilet. Too
    much info for my liking, thanks!
  • 38% of adults and 40% of teenagers have their handsets permanently switched on. As in 24/7. As in public holidays, weekends and quite possibly the dawn of Armageddon. All the time. Take a break peeps. Not healthy.
  • 18% of adults and 27% of teenagers use their smartphone in a location where it shouldn’t be used, like in the library or at the movies.
  • 23% of adults and 34% of teenagers continue using their phones during a meal. Are they talking
    with their mouths full? That’s just gross.
  • 51% of adults and 65% of teenagers admit to using their phones whilst socialising with others. One question for you selfish so-and-so’s: why bother meeting friends in the first place then? Just stay at home and text them – at least they’d be getting your attention. Too rude.
  • Because of their smartphones, 15% of teenagers read fewer books and 23% watch less television. So tht is y tey cnt spk proply?

Smartphones are wonderful life tools that have come to replace computers for many users but these types of statistics are scary, taking us ever closer to an all-consuming Sci-Fi existence where human relationships have died off completely.

What will you be doing on your phone next? No scrap that – I don’t think I really want to know.

 

 

Information sourced from: http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/addicted-your-smartphone-what-to-do, http://www.thisismobile.com/2011/08/if-you-re-addicted-to-your-smartphone-latest-survey-says-you-re-not-alone/

Are you Addicted to Your Smartphone?

July 17, 2012
Addicted to your Smartphone

Are you Addicted?

Are you addicted to your smartphone?  I know I am.   If you own a mobile phone this article might be for you;  for you to decide if you’re addicted to YOUR smartphone.
By Susan Davis
I’ll admit it,  I check my smartphone compulsively. And the more I use it, the more often the urge to look at it hits me.

In the orthodontist’s office. Walking my kids to school. In meetings. Even while making breakfast. Sometimes it is in my hand before I even know what I’m searching for. Sometimes I tap the screen absent mindedly — looking at my email, a local blogger, my calendar, and Twitter.

I’m not the only one struggling with this very modern compulsion. According to a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, 46% of all American adults now own a smartphone — up a whopping 25% from 2011.

And smartphone use can get very heavy. In a study of 1,600 managers and professionals, Leslie Perlow, PhD, the Konosuke Matsushita professor of leadership at the Harvard Business School, found that:

  • 70% said they check their smartphone within an hour of getting up.
  • 56% check their phone within an hour of going to sleep.
  • 48% check over the weekend, including on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • 51% check continuously during vacation.
  • 44% said they would experience “a great deal of anxiety” if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week.

“The amount of time that people are spending with the new technology, the apparent preoccupation, raises the question ‘why?'” says Peter DeLisi, academic dean of the information technology leadership program at Santa Clara University in California. “When you start seeing that people have to text when they’re driving, even though they clearly know that they’re endangering their lives and the lives of others, we really have to ask what is so compelling about this new medium?”

Hook or Habit?

Whether smartphones really “hook” users into dependency remains unclear.

But “we already know that the Internet and certain forms of computer use are addictive,” says David Greenfield, PhD, a West Hartford, Conn., psychologist and author of Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyber Freaks, and Those Who Love Them.

“And while we’re not seeing actual smartphone addictions now,” Greenfield says, “the potential is certainly there.”

A true addiction entails a growing tolerance to a substance (think drugs or alcohol) so you need more to get “high,” uncomfortable symptoms during withdrawal, and a harmful impact on your life, Greenfield says.

Computer technologies can be addictive, he says, because they’re “psychoactive.” That is, they alter mood and often trigger enjoyable feelings.

Email, in particular, gives us satisfaction due to what psychologists call “variable ratio reinforcement.” That is, we never know when we’ll get a satisfying email, so we keep checking, over and over again. “It’s like slot machines,” Greenfield says. “We’re seeking that pleasurable hit.”

Smartphones, of course, allow us to seek rewards (including videos, Twitter feeds, and news updates, in addition to email) anytime and anywhere. Is such behavior unhealthy?

That really depends on whether it’s disrupting your work or family life, Greenfield says.

Such a disruption could be small — like ignoring your friend over lunch to post a Facebook status about how much you’re enjoying lunch with your friend.

Or it could be big — like tuning out an distressed spouse or colleagues in a meeting to check email, or feeling increasingly stressed by the fact that everyone else seems to be on call 24/7, so we perhaps we should be, too.

Other researchers are seeing clear signs of dysfunction, if not an “addiction.”

According to a 2011 study published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, people aren’t addicted to smartphones themselves as much as they are addicted to “checking habits” that develop with phone use — including repeatedly (and very quickly) checking for news updates, emails, or social media connections.

That study found that certain environmental triggers — like being bored or listening to a lecture — trigger the habits. And while the average user checks his or her smartphone 35 times a day — for about 30 seconds each time, when the information rewards are greater (e.g., having contact info linked to the contact’s whereabouts), users check even more often.

The Interrupted Life

Besides creating a compulsion, smartphones pose other dangers to our mental life, says Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

“The smartphone, through its small size, ease of use, proliferation of free or cheap apps, and constant connectivity, changes our relationship with computers in a way that goes well beyond what we experienced with laptops,” he says. That’s because people keep their smartphones near them “from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed, and throughout that time the devices provide an almost continuous stream of messages and alerts as well as easy access to a myriad of compelling information sources.

“By design,” he says, “it’s an environment of almost constant interruptions and distractions. The smartphone, more than any other gadget, steals from us the opportunity to maintain our attention, to engage in contemplation and reflection, or even to be alone with our thoughts.”

Carr, who writes extensively in The Shallows about the way that computer technology in general may be diminishing our ability to concentrate and think deeply, does not have a smartphone.

“One thing my research made clear is that human beings have a deep, primitive desire to know everything that’s going on around them,” he says.

“That instinct probably helped us survive when we were cavemen and cavewomen. I’m sure one of the main reasons people tend to be so compulsive in their use of smartphones is that they can’t stand the idea that there may be a new bit of information out there that they haven’t seen. I know that I’m not strong enough to resist that temptation, so I’ve decided to shun the device altogether.”

Managing Your Smartphone Use

Can’t give up your phone altogether? Experts suggest these steps to control your usage:

  • Be conscious of the situations and emotions that make you want to check your phone. Is it boredom? Loneliness? Anxiety? Maybe something else would soothe you.
  • Be strong when your phone beeps or rings. You don’t always have to answer it. In fact, you can avoid temptation by turning off the alert signals.
  • Be disciplined about not using your device in certain situations (such as when you’re with children, driving, or in a meeting) or at certain hours ( for instance, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.). “You’ll be surprised and pleased to rediscover the pleasures of being in control of your attention,” Carr says.

One group of business people at The Boston Group, a consulting firm, discovered just that when they participated in an experiment run by Perlow.

As described in her book, Sleeping with Your Smartphone, the group found that taking regular “predictable time off” (PTO) from their PDAs resulted in increased efficiency and collaboration, heightened job satisfaction, and better work-life balance.

Four years after her initial experiment, Perlow reports, 86% of the consulting staff in the firm’s Northeast offices — including Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. — were on teams engaged in similar PTO experiments.

To manage my own smartphone well, more smartly, I weaned myself away from it.

I started by not checking it for 15 minutes at a time, then 30, then 60 (unless I was dealing with an urgent situation).

I decided to avoid using the web browser on the smartphone unless I truly needed information (such as an address or phone number).

And I swore off using social media on it entirely. I also made a firm commitment to not text, email, or surf the web on my smartphone while driving.

The result? Even after a few days of this self-discipline, I found that I was concentrating better, more aware of my surroundings, and more relaxed — and I was more aware of when I was looking for something specific, as opposed to just looking for some kind of connection.

Information sourced from: http://www.webmd.com
By Susan Davis
WebMD Feature