The ”A” Word isn’t Just ‘A Word’
It’s important to first be clear about the language we use when talking with someone struggling. Our brains are wired to take ‘shortcuts’ and to thus categorize people, places and things without as much nuance as may be needed. Stereotypes, for example, are one way this can manifest as can all-or-nothing, absolutist thinking.
For someone struggling with the overuse of screens, the word Addicted or Addiction can frequently by used as a catch-all. The ”A” word itself has immense stigma attached to it, and it is critical to not label or pathologize someone simply because we as a loved one see their behavior as detrimental. Shame is toxic and corrosive, eating away at the relationship like an acid, thus creating more distance between you at the same time.
There is also a very wide spectrum of severity with what technically qualifies as ‘addiction’. An even wider spectrum with what we might call misuse or abuse.
Examples of these behaviors themselves include digital gaming, social media use, binging Youtube or other streaming platforms, online shopping, etc. Others might struggle with their use of online gambling or compulsive pornography.
Below are the defining factors, with basic examples, seen in someone who may meet criteria:
Mood changes- They are happy when engaged in X behavior. Anxiety, anger, irritability increase over time when not engaged in the behavior. Can include cravings for doing so.
Conflict- With parents, partner, teachers, coaches, friends, etc.
Salience- The behavior is the most important thing in their life. Other priorities slip away, such as fundamentals like self-care (hygiene, eating, sleeping). Often includes binges of many hours without breaks or a shift in their priorities.
Isolation- Avoids social, familial and intimate relationships or does bare minimum to retain connection.
What to Expect
As with treatment for any complicated disease or disorder, a huge component of treatment success is based on the treatment provider’s competence, understanding of the presenting problems and knowledge of the most evidenced-based treatment methods. This is why your primary care provider refers you to see specialists rather than trying to treat everything themselves.
My ResetFromTech™ program utilizes psychotherapy methodologies which are designed specifically for the treatment of Digital Misuse, Abuse & Addictions.
Having many years of specialized training and experience in treating substance use disorders and compulsive behaviors has helped me to better understand what treatment methods and techniques are most effective for each individual. As a psychotherapist, I consider it both my passion and my duty to be in a constant state of professional development, from attending annual conferences around Digital Addiction Treatment Methods to gaining certifications in the treatment of the most prevalent mental health disorders that co-occur (e.g. Social Phobia/Social Anxiety, Major Depressive Disorder, ADHD, etc).
My professional network is always growing, allowing me unique opportunities to participate in innovative research initiatives around the world, find free/low-cost supplemental resources for my clients and maintain awareness of the newest evidence-based practices being used by the world’s leading experts.
While the below is a general overview of what to expect, each situation, family and client are unique. As a result of these unique needs, I am a major proponent of making individualized treatment plans for every new client rather than using a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach.