Friday, October 28, 2016


You might scoff at the idea. Being addicted to the Internet? That's not a thing. That's like telling your loved one he or she is a workaholic, just because you miss them, right? It's just another tiresome example of a generational gap difference.

"Would it kill you to put down your phone for a minute to talk your dear old dad?"

"When I was a kid... yada yada yada." Right?

Well, NO. Sacrificing quality human interaction for work is a problem for many and the same is true for spending too much time browsing the web. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is real, it's here, and it's growing at an alarming rate. It's prevalent in our young people. 1-in-4 children are addicted to the Internet. Children. They really shouldn't be addicts of anything.

In today's wired world, a restaurant providing free WiFi is as or more important to some, than the quality of service or food. Internet obsessed patrons do not notice the actual rat scurrying out from the kitchen because they're glued to a digital device streaming the movie, Ratatouille.

Just take a look around at younger folks in your favorite eatery next time you're dining out (they won't notice). First course of action isn't perusing the menu for tasty offerings. It's pulling out the smart phone and plugging into cyberspace. Why? They may have missed a few virtual "likes" on the filtered photo they posted just before that annoying 5-minute walk from the car to the entrance. Damn actual time and space, forcing us to monitor our own steps.

So, OK. It's a little annoying for a server forced to revisit the table several times due to Internet obsessed diners. But what are the real issues with our children, teens, and young adults craving constant connection? Well actually, there are several.

But let's look at two important, yet suffering, issues to start: relationships and sleep.

In Japan, it is said that some 500,000 teenagers are addicted to the Internet. It has recently been added to the DSM-5, with a request for additional research. Psychologists can already point to direct negative affects.

Nomura Kazataka, a therapist working in one a Yokohama cyber detox clinic, described how internet addiction can impact lives. ‘In the worst cases, kids drop out of school and are not able to catch up with school curriculum.’

Many experts also attribute social anxiety issues to Internet compulsion. Kids just aren't connecting face-to-face as much. This of course, can lead to a poor social life and unhealthy relationships with friends and family members.

In fact, the problem is so ubiquitous in Japan that online detox retreat centers are popping up all over the island nation. One such program is the Kushunada Co. which offers a “digital detox” vacation package in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture (Japan).

“We want our travelers to experience something that is not part of their usual routine. By turning off their mobile phones, we want people to appreciate the moment and realize things which are often ignored when our digital devices are there,” said Mirei Eguchi, the organization's Chief Executive Officer.

Here at home - and in Europe - the trend is catching on, with digital detox retreats such as Camp Grounded in the woods of northern California and programs at resorts, such as the Westin Dublin Hotel in Ireland have been drawing crowds for “unplugged” holidays.

The concept isn't purely that these devices are bad for us, but like anything else... best in moderation.

“It is not that we want people to totally abandon going digital but rather, we want them to realize how important items such as mobile phones are in our lives and have a healthy relationship with these electronic devices,” Eguchi, 31, said.

The potential physical affects on one's health can be detrimental as well. Not getting the proper rest leads to sleep deprivation and additional stress.

"Even on weekends, when you are meant to be resting, if you are connected online you are not really resting," he says. "People need to take time away from their digital gadgets, disconnect, then you can nurture imagination and encourage face to face communication, said Yoneda Tomohiko, who has written a book on his battle with Internet Addiction."

So maybe the next time someone from an older generation takes issue with you being on your phone at the family holiday party, you shouldn't respond with a roll of the eyes. Maybe they just want you to unplug and listen.

It might just be healthy for you both.

HVRCHemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Gambling Disorder and Older Americans

When we speak on the topic of addiction, it is typically with regard to drugs and alcohol. Yet, there are a number of other addictions that can disrupt the course of one’s life that do not involve mind altering substances. One such addiction is that of gambling, and it is not uncommon for people to sacrifice everything with the hopes of hitting it big, just once, on the casino floor. It is a dream that can lead to the loss of savings, home and family. And in the grips of despair, many gambling addicts will choose to take their own life—considering that to be their only option.

Gambling addiction is a condition which on the surface appears to be benign, when compared to substance use disorder, but it can actually be just as insidious. Millions of Americans meet the criteria for gambling disorders, the National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that 2 million adults in the United States meet the criteria for "pathological gambling," and 4 to 6 million are considered "problem gamblers."

Gambling Disorder

There are a many labels that have been placed on people whose gambling has gotten out of control, such as problem, compulsive and pathological. The American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) calls the most severe form of the problem—"gambling disorder." While the problem can affect people from all walks of life, the most susceptible demographic is people in their later years.

In fact, casino data indicates that of the 101 million American casino visitors in 2014, about half were ages 50 or older, AARP Bulletin reports. There was time when the only places in America one could gamble were Atlantic City, NJ and Las Vegas, NV. Today, people need not travel far to find a casino, with Indian casinos dotting the landscape across the country. You can just hop in the car and be at a casino in no time at all, which can appear to be low lying fruit for older Americans that have the time and the money to spend. A costly illusion.

Casinos are spending a lot of money and time luring older Americans through their doors. They offer up enticing promotional deals, such as free food, booze and accommodations. And as long as one keeps the ante coming and the slot machines singing, casinos will do whatever they can to keep one in a trance. In 2014, the American casino industry reported racking in $66 billion in gambling revenue, according to the article. Seeing as nearly half of the gamblers are people over the age of 50, it is safe to assume that a lot of that money was spent by people who could ill-afford to spend it. Spending Social Security (SSA) checks, cashing in 401-Ks and mortgaging homes in order to keep playing, are not uncommon.

Gambling Disorder Treatment 

Hopefully, one’s gambling problem can be addressed before the situation gets any worse. Like with any addiction, those who are suffering are often in denial about the problem. It can be hard for someone to make the decision to seek help, and it can be hard for loved one’s to recognize that there is in fact, a problem. The DSM-V lists a number of signs that can indicate that someone has a gambling disorder, including:
  • Unable to cut back or control.
  • Irritable or restless when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
  • Risks more money to reach desired level of excitement.
  • Gambles to escape problems or depressed mood.
  • “Chases" losses
  • Lies to family and others about gambling.
  • Risks or loses relationships or job because of gambling.
  • Relies on others for financial needs caused by gambling.
In the AARP Bulletin it is reported:
'Slots are also the most addictive form of casino gambling, with the machines designed to maximize your "time on device" until you're out of money. A 2001 study by psychiatrist Hans Breiter, then of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, confirmed that the machine's nickname—"electronic crack"—is an apt one. Using MRI scanners, he found that in subjects playing slots, the brain's neural circuits fired in a way that was similar to those using cocaine.' 

Seeking help for yourself or a loved one...

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we offer a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Older Adult Addiction Treatment, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 to begin the journey of recovery.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Smoking Cessation for Recovery

smoking cessation
Tobacco is a plant that is used to make a number of addictive products, such as cigarettes, cigars and “chew” or “dip.” The chemical that makes tobacco products both pleasurable and addictive is nicotine. For those working a program of recovery, tobacco products are typically the last habit to kick, yet in many ways they are the deadliest.

While the nation and its lawmakers continue to direct the main focus regarding mind altering substances towards opioids, it is crucial that we do not lose sight of the overall picture of addiction. Cigarettes, and their ilk, are rarely associated with loss of family, friends and/or employment—yet smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On top of that, nearly 6 million Americans lose their life to tobacco use every year, the equivalent of 1 in 5.

Smoking cessation is important to the longevity of anyone's life, yet for those in addiction recovery the stakes could be considered to be even higher. Those working a program of recovery who smoke cigarettes are found to be at an increased risk of relapse.

Smoking Cessation for Recovery 

In the field of addiction recovery, there has long been two different mindsets. In one camp, the belief is that when entering addiction treatment, a concerted effort should be made to cease the use of all mind altering substances. Whereas the other camp, while acknowledging that tobacco is both addictive and bad for you, it is best to tackle one issue at a time—focusing on smoking cessation down the road. The latter mindset, is not necessarily without merit, however, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism points out that:
  • The majority of research indicates that smoking cessation is unlikely to compromise alcohol use outcomes (cf. Fogg and Borody 2001).
  • Participation in smoking cessation efforts while engaged in other substance abuse treatment has been associated with a 25 percent greater likelihood of long-term abstinence from alcohol and other drugs (Prochaska et al. 2004).
  • Data indirectly suggest that continued smoking increases the risk of alcohol relapse among alcohol-dependent smokers (Taylor et al. 2000).

Quitting Smoking 

It is likely every American adult has no illusions about the dangers of smoking, yet even with smoking cessation treatments, success rates are fairly low. The options available for smokers today, include:
  • Gums
  • Patches
  • Inhalers
  • Medications (Chantix or Wellbutrin)
Those who use one of those treatments, in conjunction cognitive behavioral therapy, can and do manage to quit. Which is great! Yet, there are a number of people who cannot manage to abstain from smoking for long periods of time even with the aforementioned options, which is why researchers continue to look for innovative solutions.

Researchers have found a protein in the brain that could lead to smoking cessation treatments in the future, MNT reports. The research team found a way to crystalize the alpha-4-beta-2 (α4β2) nicotinic receptor, which helps them identify how nicotine works in the brain and could eventually lead to further breakthroughs. The findings were published in Nature.

"It's going to require a huge team of people and a pharmaceutical company to study the protein and develop the drugs, but I think this is the first major stepping stone to making that happen," said study co-author Dr. Ryan Hibbs, assistant professor of neuroscience and biophysics with the O'Donnell Brain Institute at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. 

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we offer a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 to begin the journey of recovery.