Just over a year ago, I wrote about the curious marketing of addiction treatment centers online, which used what I believed to be deceptive marketing practices.
The email that arrived on Oct. 2, 2013 piqued my curiosity yet again. It was promoting a self-made infographic about “porn addicted” communities online. It came from a website called “Project Know.”
Sounds interesting, right?
The email started my second investigation into the seedy underbelly of the online marketing practices of rehab and addiction treatment centers. You know the ones, as you’ve probably seen at least one of their advertisements on TV, too.
Is the daily routine of life getting you down? Find your passion and live a more authentic life!
Do you ever have those times when you have been on the go non-stop trying to stay on top of all your responsibilities and get all the necessary things on your “to do” list accomplished — and then it hits you like a ton of bricks? You don’t have one more ounce of energy to keep going. You feel so stressed and overwhelmed from all the “busy”ness that you start losing things, forgetting things, your fuse with family, friends and co-workers is short and it feels like things are unraveling quickly?
For love and sex addicts, periods of intense pleasure followed by periods of profound isolation create a circle of suffering that wears down the body, mind and soul.
An overwhelming desire to connect and have intimacy with others exists, alongside a deep fear of closeness. Life is filled with highs and lows; a seemingly unending cycle of seeking love or sex and the experience of an intense emptiness without love and sex.
New York Times health columnist Catherine Saint Louis recently covered the many upsides of a spanking new food analyzing device called the Prep Pad. In addition to weighing just how much food you’re about to consume, this unassuming 9-inch-by-6.25 gadget syncs easily with an iPad (generation 3 or higher) to tabulate the grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat whatever edible hits its scale has to offer — along with the total number of calories these macronutirients add up to.
Exciting as this may be for well-meaning dieters and family food planners trying their best to be “healthy,” I can (un?)comfortably say I’m already concerned.
Addiction is a hard thing to overcome, and people from all walks and ages in life struggle with it. But in some ways, it’s especially tragic when a young adult or teenager is dealing with addiction. A teenager’s brain is still under development, and battling addiction can impact their neurological growth and stunt brain connections.
We’re still learning about addiction every day, and so the science of addiction is especially important to consider.
Whether it’s smoking, overeating, or worrying, we all have bad habits we would love to get rid of. Behavioral psychology can help. It is one of the most-studied fields in psychology, and it offers great insight into how to break bad habits and build up healthy habits in their place.
If you have a bad habit, it is because you are being rewarded for it in some way. Behavioral psychology claims that all of our behavior is either rewarded or punished, which increases or decreases the chance of us repeating that behavior.
If you smoke, you are rewarded with stress relief. If you overeat, you are rewarded with the taste of food. If you procrastinate, you are temporarily rewarded with more free time. Find out how your bad habits are rewarding you, and then you can figure out how to replace them.
Making the discovery that you are a sex addict usually is facilitated by a pivotal experience that brings to light behaviors that were shameful or secretive. Often the person’s life grinds to a halt. Faced with some sort of loss, there is a realization that one’s sexual behaviors have become unmanageable and important steps need to be taken toward healing.
Therapy can be an important first step, and finding a therapist with experience treating sex addiction is crucial.
Alcoholism is common among people suffering from mental health conditions. People experiencing anxiety, depression, impulsivity, or other diagnosable mental illnesses often turn to alcohol to find temporary solace. Additionally, people who do not have a mental health diagnosis, yet are encountering a phase of overwhelming emotions, drink dangerously.
For example, while struggling with the aftermath of trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, people drink to escape the pain. Alcohol is used as a coping mechanism for those enduring a great deal of stress or hardship, such as getting fired from a job or losing a loved one.
Drinking represses the negative emotions that affect the mental well-being of those with diagnosed mental health concerns and those who simply feel emotionally flooded.
Love addicts often have the best intentions. They desire to have happy, healthy relationships. However, underneath these good intentions lies a covert struggle with intimacy. With sex and love addiction, there is always a hidden agenda to get needs met that are based in feelings of insecurity.
When there is dysfunction in the family of origin, love objects are unconsciously sought out with the goal of replaying unfinished business from childhood.
It is not always a relationship with a parent that we are repeating; it can be a relationship with any family member that is unresolved. Mourning childhood losses and allowing oneself to process the pain of past hurt sets us free to select more positive relationships.
There’s a scene in an episode of “Sex and the City,” where Miranda Hobbes has shamelessly salvaged a cupcake from the trash and, half of the thing in her mouth, leaves a voicemail with Carrie admitting her weak moment in case her friend needs that evidence when she admits her into the Betty Ford clinic. Katie Couric played the clip before introducing her guest, Dr. Pam Peeke, internationally recognized expert, physician, and author in the fields of nutrition, stress, fitness, and public health, on the “Katie” show.
Peeke’s latest book, The Hunger Fix (a New York Times bestseller), lays out the science to prove that fatty, sugary, salty processed foods produce in a food addict’s brain the same chemical reaction as addictions to crack cocaine and alcoholism.
Peeke uses neuroscience to explain how, with repeated exposure coupled with life stresses, any food can become a “false fix” and ensnare you in a vicious cycle of food obsession, overeating, and addiction. The dopamine rushes in the body work the same way with food as with drugs like cocaine.
There’s a lot of information about addiction, online, on TV, and elsewhere. But it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between the marketing of treatments for addiction, and what the actual science and research shows.
That’s why it’s my pleasure to introduce our new blog, The Science of Addiction with Richard Taite.