Treatment Philosophy

Texas Opiate Crisis

Texas Opiate Crisis

The increasingly prevalent use of opioids has triggered one of the most serious drug crises in the country’s history. In almost every state, fatal overdoses are being reported on an almost daily basis. Here’s what you need to know about the crisis in Texas.

The Use of Opioids appears to be Most Prevalent in East and North Texas

Reports show that opioid-related admissions and fatalities are concentrated in East and North Texas, which includes a lot of rural counties. Overdose fatalities due to opioid use in some counties in Texas surpassed 24 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.

Various counties by the Red River have also recorded increased rates of drug overdose mortalities. For example, Baylor County has recorded over 30 fatalities per 100,000, which is the highest in the state.

Half of all Opioid-Related Deaths Are as a Result of Legally Prescribed Opioid Medications

Interestingly, the majority of people who have an opioid use disorder trace their addiction back to legally prescribed opioid painkillers. The leading sources of these opioid prescriptions include doctors, dentists, and surgeons. Consequently, reports indicate that drug overdoses are most prevalent in areas where most opioid prescriptions are made.

And because prescribed opioid painkillers are becoming increasingly harder to get, individuals who developed a dependency on those medications transition to the use of illegal opiates such as heroin. Heroin produces a similar sensation to the medication while being easier and cheaper to obtain. What is even more concerning is that this drug is being laced with lethal synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Drug traffickers are lacing heroin with fentanyl to make their product even more potent as fentanyl is about 50 times stronger than morphine. As a result, the likelihood of an overdose is dramatically increased. In fact, deaths that were fentanyl-related almost doubled between 2015 and 2016.


Of the 1,174 opioid-related deaths reported in 2015, prescribed opioids accounted for 517, heroin had 516, while synthetic opioids resulted in 153 deaths.

Texas’ Opioid Crisis Could Get Worse

While fentanyl-laced illegal opiates are the leading cause of recent overdose fatalities nationally, in Texas, fentanyl has only caused about 4 percent of heroin-related deaths. This is because the most common type of heroin available in Texas, known as blacks tar, is a lot harder to mix with the synthetic opioid as compared to white powder heroin.

However, that safety bubble is about to bust as reports indicate that white powder heroin is becoming increasingly available in Texas. Moreover, drug dealers are already mixing fentanyl with black tar. Additionally, more and more illicit drugs are getting laced with fentanyl, thus increasing the risk of fentanyl-related overdoses.

As we have covered, opioid use is very likely to result in dependency and addiction. This addiction is eventually what leads to an overdose as the addict needs to take more and more to achieve the same level of high.

What Happens When You Take an Opioid?

Upon ingesting, inhaling, or injecting an opioid into their body, the opioid enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. There, it attaches to an opioid receptor which reduces the perception of pain thus having a sedating effect.

For most people, the stimulation of opioid receptors causes a mild pleasurable sensation. Others report feeling a sense of well-being while others say they feel motivated or energized. Others might experience unpleasant side effects such as irritability, nausea, and vomiting.

There are also those who experience an intense euphoria upon taking an opioid. Unfortunately, these are the individuals who are likely to develop a dependency on the drug thus leading to addiction.

Nonetheless, the body gradually builds a tolerance towards the drug. As such, the individual has to take larger quantities of the opioid to achieve their desired euphoric sensation. This results in long-term changes in the brain’s structure and function. Consequently, this results in changes in their behavior as well.


What is Opioid Dependence?

This is an addiction to opioids. Thus, it is a brain condition characterized by both a physical as well as a psychological need for the drug and therefore requires opioid addiction treatment. A dependent or addicted individual is one who exhibits compulsive opioid use despite the obvious harm the drug poses. They cannot seem to stop their use even though they know that they should stop.

An opioid addiction is typically characterized by intense cravings and the subsequent loss of control over their usage. Behaviors that signal a need for opioid dependency treatment include:

 Loss of control over usage

 Denying that there is a problem

 Spending a lot of time looking for and using opioids

 Missing out on important obligations because of opioid use

 A persistent desire to quit but failing frequently

 Continued use despite the harm it poses.

Getting over an opioid addiction can be a challenging endeavor. This is because, as mentioned earlier, an opioid addiction typically results in long-term changes to the brain’s configuration. Consequently, the individual is unable to stay long periods without using.

Moreover, the withdrawal effects that follow the stoppage of use are dangerous and can even be fatal. As such, professional help is necessary to help the addicted individual to get over their dependency safely while reducing the chance of a relapse. The following are some of the most effective opioid addiction treatments available in Texas:

• Inpatient Opioid Rehab

Here, the patient checks into a rehab facility where their treatment is overseen by a team of medical specialists. First, the addict is helped to cease their drug use through structured pain management programs that help them deal with the withdrawal effects that follow stoppage. Additionally, the patient receives psychological treatment that aims to address the root of their addiction while helping them find better ways to cope so as to prevent future relapses.

• Intensive Outpatient Programs

Also known as partial hospitalization programs, people who opt for intensive outpatient programs will still receive the necessary medication to help them manage their withdrawal symptoms and to aid in recovery and sober living. Thus, the patient will still be living at home, going to work, and spending time with their loved ones.

Nevertheless, they will have to make regular clinic visits up to 6 times a week so their progress can be monitored. The individual will also receive mental health assessments as well as therapy.

Partial hospitalization programs are a good substitute for inpatient rehab in certain cases. Your doctor should help you determine whether they are a good fit for the addicted individual.

• Ambulatory Detoxification Program

An ambulatory detoxification program is a type of outpatient treatment as it provides the benefits of inpatient detoxification but at a less restrictive and more cost-effective setting. Ambulatory detox programs typically offer all the services expected in an outpatient program.

Nevertheless, this treatment is only suitable for patients who have or are expected to have, mild to moderate symptoms of withdrawal. Therefore, a person who experiences severe withdrawal symptoms needs inpatient treatment as this will allow for medical oversight to ensure that the withdrawal symptoms do not result in a fatality.


With opioid use becoming more prevalent in Texas, it is necessary that we do what all we can to prevent unnecessary deaths. If you have a loved one suffering from opioid use or abuse, getting them to an addiction treatment center sooner will help you turn their lives around, so they do not end up as another opioid-related statistic. Guide them to the path to sober living.

Navigating Safely into the New Year while in Recovery

While recovering from any addiction, it’s important to avoid anything that can trigger a relapse. This is especially difficult during the Christmas season because the holiday tends to be longer than the others. Also, there are more celebrations, family and friends reunions scheduled for this time of the year than at any other time of the year.

To stay sober, you should start your Christmas holiday and transition on to the New Year with a resolve to stay sober. As hard as it might be, especially for a person who has just gone through intensive treatment for an addiction, it is crucial that you discipline yourself and be aware of negative habits that might crop up as you try to avoid the primary addiction. Here are strategies for staying sober during the holiday season.

Have a Plan

It’s the festive season and just because you are in recovery does not mean that you cannot have some fun as most of the world is. The only important thing is to have a plan. Only attend important meetups or celebrations and have with you someone close to watch and offer the support system you need. Some alcohol addiction patients may get an urge or temptation to taste alcohol just by seeing or smelling it at the party. If you think you can have these tendencies avoid such parties. Most family gatherings are relaxed and have less alcohol served. These can be ideal for a start. However, when going to such parties, prepare your mind for any eventuality. You might come face to face with alcohol, smell it and even watch people as they enjoy the drink. You can carry with you an alcohol-free drink that soothes you and helps keep your mind off alcohol.

Reduce Stress

Stress can trigger a relapse. Some situations are unavoidable but being prepared can make a lot of difference. Apart from the celebrations, sibling rivalry, fights with friends and other misunderstandings are a normal part of the festive season. You cannot avoid people because this can lead to other problems like screen addiction or tech addiction as happens to people who stay indoors for too long. To avoid stress, always be in the company of people who understand, support and are ready to help you through the setbacks. If you reach out to stress-relieving pills every time you experience anxiety or stress, you are at  risk of dependency or drug addiction.

Avoid Old Friends

As much as you can, avoid friends you used to party with or who drink or abuse drugs. The more you associate yourself with them, the easier it will be for you to slip back to your old ways. Sober living requires you to drop as many of your old friends as possible and get new ones, probably those who are walking your journey. When you have like-minded people, the journey becomes easier, and there are fewer temptations along the way. If you can’t avoid drinking friends, let them know of your intentions to stay sober, the effort you have been putting to fight alcohol addiction and ask for their help. Most probably they already know you were drinking way too much or were battling other addictions such as tech addiction or screen addiction. Ask them to avoid bringing alcohol along when they visit you.

Eat

People wait in line for 4 to 5 hours to taste the food from Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. Matthew Odam’s Top 10 barbecue restaurants in Austin. 05.06 2014 LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN 052314 xl cover

Hunger is one of the triggers for most addictions including alcohol,video gaming addiction, and drug addiction. Having a meal or snack every three hours ensures that your blood sugar levels are optimal, your thinking is not affected and you have the energy to make the right decisions. Before joining a party, make sure you have eaten well, you can even carry a snack along. Other triggers include anger, loneliness, and fatigue. If you find yourself idle, your mind can go back to the things it was accustomed to.

To avoid tech or video gaming addiction, keep yourself busy with meaningful things. Being in control of your mental and physical health is important for your wellbeing. When you overwork, your energy levels go down which can trigger a relapse. Holiday festivals demand that you sleep late, party a lot and work hard to entertain guests. Having a plan ensures you get enough sleep and take breaks to avoid burning out.

Learn How to Say No

Most often, recovering patients shy away from telling their extended families or friends about their healing process. This puts them into awkward situations in parties or family gatherings where alcohol is being served. A well-meaning aunt or friend can hand you a glass or a whole bottle of wine, how do you politely say no? You need to have rehearsed this before. This gives you the preparedness to say no and settle for it. You don’t have to say no to the offer outrightly but can use a clever way to get out of the situation. Not involving everyone in this journey can be an advantage because you don’t have to endure the judgment that comes with such a revelation but you need to have a plan that gets you out of any tricky situation. To be on the safe side, always have an accountability partner every time you attend parties.

Evaluate Your Progress

It’s not an easy journey. Sometimes you will fall, other times you will have relapses, and in some instances, you will feel desperate and ready to give up. The urge to drink at times will be so strong that sober living will seem like an impossibility. Do not be too hard on yourself. If you slip once or twice, dust yourself and keep pushing forward. With time, things will get better. To be on the safe side, book yourself into more stay sober treats and make sure you attend all your therapy and counseling sessions. If possible, stick close to the support groups, make friends within the circle and find entertaining but safe ways to spend the holidays within the circle. This is especially important if you have just come out of an intensive treatment plan.

What you should always remember during the New Year season is that there are busy and not too busy triggers. Busy triggers include friends and family parties and old friends visiting you. Not busy triggers include loneliness, shame, guilt, and loss.

Conclusion

It’s essential to identify each emotion and take the necessary steps to deal with it. One of the things you may experience when around the extended family is low self-esteem. Addiction comes with a loss of earnings, poor health, marital and family problems that cannot be hidden. People may judge you, others may not be willing to forgive or accept you back or even help you on the journey to recovery, but you need to be strong and always stay close to positive people who embrace and love you just the way you are. If all fails, opt for sober living houses. This will significantly help you transition into the new year sober and focused on your long-term goal of kicking out the addiction.

Gaming disorder is an addiction

Okaz newspaper The World Health Organization recently classified “gaming disorder” as addictive behavior. Indeed, the dangerous addiction to games on the Internet is similar to the addiction to alcohol and drugs. This is a serious matter because there are adults and children who are addicted to these computer and video games on a daily basis. The addicted person is isolated socially and suffers from mood swings, limited imagination and an extreme focus on achievement in these games, which is measured by passing from one game level to another. Addicts totally isolate themselves from real-life events. Gaming disorder was not classified as a disease in 2013 because of incomplete evidence. This year it was classified as a disease because the evidence is now completed. There is evidence of people in South Korea and the United States who bring their lives to a temporary halt because of these games. The overwhelming majority of those suffering from gaming disorder are students at the middle and high school level. While these addicts are teenagers, it has been reported that there is an increase of people in their 30s and 40s who are addicted to Internet games. It is not necessary for a person to suffer from gaming disorder for a long time to be classified as a sick person. People are classified as suffering from gaming disorder when they are facing problems with relationships and at work because of their excessive involvement with games. For example, such people cannot control the amount of time that they play and to them, gaming is a priority in their daily life. Such people will neglect their work and study. If these symptoms continue for more than a year, then they can be classified as suffering from gaming disorder and they need help.
Video Gaming Addiction

Video Gaming Addiction

Addiction is a term that most people associate with drugs, alcohol, and junk foods. Getting addicted to something, especially if it is unhealthy can be detrimental to your mental and physical development. People not only get addicted to substances and drugs but also video games. Let us discuss in detail what video game addiction is, its causes, effects and how to help anybody trapped in their world of video game addiction.

What is Video Gaming Addiction?

Video gaming addiction is the inability to control oneself from playing video games. According to a study , 1.4 percent of gamers are addicted to playing video games.

In recent times, many video game companies release games on a yearly basis. Each version of an upgraded game promises players better graphics and increased in-game control among a host of other upgrades. Gamers, especially on the online platform, feel immersed into the virtual world and forget what is happening in the real world. The more you play, the more intriguing the gameplay becomes. Meeting fellow players online and making friends with them from the comfort of a seat in your bedroom accelerates the process of addiction. This makes it difficult to withdraw from gaming.

According to Game Quitters, a website that helps parents fight their children’s video game addiction, some of the most addictive video games include first-person player games such as Fortnite, Strike Team, Bullet Force, etc. A study done by a group of researchers from the Oxford university states that 2-3 percent of gamers are heavily addicted and display diagnosable symptoms associated with gaming.

The Proof of the Danger?

In some cases, they can be debilitating addictions and clinical disorders that have ruined peoples lives. A whole generation of “Failure to Launch” Millenials have seen their schooling, job prospects and/or interpersonal relationships suffer–or even destroyed–as a result of their screen or technology addiction.Now there is a dedicated specialized program at Omega Recovery to effectively treat this issue.

Dr. Kardaras, our Co-CEO and Chief Clinical Officer, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on digital addiction (social media, video games, smart phones, etc.) and its treatment. He is the author of “Glow Kids” (St. Martin’s Press, 2016), the seminal book on the clinical, neurological and sociological aspects of digital/technology addiction and, over the past 10 years, he has clinically worked with hundreds of young people struggling with this issue. And now he has bought his years of expertise and developed the best evidence-based treatment protocols at Omega Recovery to address and treat the addiction of this millenium: technology addiction.

What causes video game addictions?

One factor stands out when it comes to video game addiction: video games are designed to be addictive. What other way is better than to keep players coming back for more? Video game addiction is also caused by the need to clear a mission and move to the next level. For example, some video game designers have their games structured in such a way that the gamer misses to proceed to the next level by a slim chance. As such, gamers have to repeat the mission until they are successful. Missions are usually harder as you proceed with the game, consequently resulting in addiction.

Video games become addictive by satisfying a gamer’s need to make social connections. Online video games offer gamers an opportunity to network and make friends with other players on the same platform. Players who lack social skills in the real world will be quick to jump into the virtual world and make friends with whom they share the same interests.

Other video games offer in-game rewards, which are seductive pursuits for some gamers. More rewards translate to more power, respect and ultimately ranking in the overall standing of the games table.

Symptoms of video game addiction

Research is still underway to disclose real symptoms of video games addiction. However,

studies published in the American Online Journal of Psychiatry indicates that there are more than five symptoms that can be used to identify an addicted video gamer.

  1. Isolation

Many video game addicts will be quick to isolate themselves from social gatherings or events in order to play their favorite video game. They will come up with excuses to help them isolate themselves and play their favorite game.

  1. Dysregulated gaming

Dysregulated gaming leads to significant distress, which is the first symptom of video gaming disorder. Online video game players will concentrate more on their gaming and procrastinate other duties. They are always preoccupied with the game they are playing or a new game that has just been released.

  1. Observable shifts in interests.

Another way to tell if somebody is addicted to video games is by observing a shift in their interests. For example, if someone who would be happy to attend family functions prefers to play video games during such occasions, it is a clear indicator that they are getting addicted.

  1. Lying

Most addicted gamers have been caught playing their favorite game after giving an excuse that they were preoccupied with some other different activity. Moreover, if all somebody can talk about is gaming and how good they are at a given game, it might point out to some significant extent that they are addicted.

     5. Treatment and cure from video game addiction        

Video game addiction always causes anhedonia, which is the loss of interest in things that excited or made someone pursue rewards. For an addicted gamer to find cure and treatment, they should:

Understand why they are playing a game.

Experts advise that to get out of video game addiction, a gamer should understand why they are playing the game in the first place. Most people play games to escape reality. As a result, gamers should set aside a limited amount of time to play video games. For instance, say, three to four hours of video games during weekends will go a long way in curbing addiction problems.

Find alternative hobbies

A gamer can find alternative hobbies and focus more of their energies indulging in them. Different hobbies take away the focus on video games and can allow someone to concentrate more on other things.

Cognitive behavior approach

Cognitive behavior approach is another way to treat video game addiction. Experts advise that you can overcome addiction by staying away from your playing station. Delve into the real world by driving a real car or attending social events that will cover up most of the time you use for playing video games.

Finding Help

The World Health Organization recognizes addiction as a condition in its international classification of diseases. And with numbers increasing, it is imperative that we address this societal problem. It is important for gaming addicts to speak to a professional if they are unable to overcome it by themselves. However, getting out of video game addiction narrows down to the addict and the amount of effort they are willing to put in recovery.

At Omega Recovery in Austin we’ve had success with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in helping the addicted gamer find more adaptive ways of managing moods, feelings and thoughts that may trigger impulses to game. Counseling supplemented with a good 12 Step program in a structured sober living environment is ideal to help overcome the addiction and return to society.

Dogs Help with Recovery

Dogs Help with Recovery

Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is a big step towards reclaiming your life. However, given that addiction is a highly individualized disease, treatment may take several forms depending on your case. During the recovery process, support systems are vital in helping the addict not to relapse into the addiction. One of the popular support approaches is dog-assisted therapy. This therapy involves giving those healing from addiction a dog to aid them during the recovery process. The dog offers the patients a connection to another living being. This is something that most patients lack. For these reasons, Omega Recovery is dog friendly. Just down the street from Omega is a great place to find a new best friend, Austin Pets Alive. Austin is leading the way as a no kill city for over 8 years.

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Dogs are compassionate and they love you

Dogs are very good at showing compassion to their owners especially when the owners are low in spirits. A recovering addict will have their moments of low spirits and may lack someone that can give you that touch of assurance. A pet can play this role perfectly. It can curl, perch on your shoulder or lie beside you. It reassures you that everything is okay and will be fine. Dogs are great partners who never get bored with you and can be with you wherever you go or are doing. Given that you may regularly suffer from these moments of loneliness especially if you lack family support, getting a pet to be on your side is a noble idea.

Helps return your mind to the normal routine

Drug addiction alters your normal habits and makes you forget your responsibility. A significant step towards recovery is getting back to your normal routine. For you to form new habits, you need responsibilities that need to be fulfilled on a daily basis.

One of these activities is to take care of a dog. If you have a dog that needs to be fed, a dog that needs to be walked and you are most likely going to push yourself to wake up and get going. This daily commitment eventually turns into a routine. With the basic routine in place, you can add in other routines such as cooking, bathing and so forth. With time, you are able to get your normal life back.

Unlike other activities that you may postpone, a task around a pet cannot be postponed. When struggling to complete the task, you will end up completing other tasks in the process.

Gives you a sense of purpose

Most people are engulfed into a sense of hopelessness when they cannot control their drug or alcohol habit. Over time the hopelessness leads to frustration and more drug use. Unfortunately, you may feel the same when trying to get out of addiction. You may be struggling so much to keep within the recovery boundaries especially if are on extended care at home or rehab center.

Pets can give you a sense of hope, self-worth, and direction. You may be having a hard time getting on with the family members or connecting with friends who may affect your social life as you feel unwanted. However, your pet depends on you for grooming, food, and shelter. It gives you a reason to wake up each morning and do something for it. This reason is what helps you to rebuild your self-worth and a sense of purpose. In the long run, it enables you to regain the confidence of the people around you that you can take care of more than just yourself.

Helps the Whole Family Recover

Dogs help families take time out for play, it’s fun to chase your dog around the yard, go for walks, play fetch, learn new tricks, etc. Dogs provide loyalty, companionship and love. Studies show that owning a dog reduce stress and lowers cholesterol, and can add years to your life. See this article at WebMD for a list of benefits. Dogs greatly enrich the lives and help with recovery for both individuals and families.

Helps in socialization

One of the things that drug abuse kills off is the connection between you and the people around you. Drugs may have ruined relationships through withdrawal, risky behavior or unpredictable temperament. It is always a tough task to learn to socialize again when you get sober again. In fact, one of the aftercare objectives is to get you to become integrated into society and enable you to create friendships with people around you.

Dogs can act as middle persons in your journey to socializing again. You can walk the dog to a pet park and engage in some talk with other dog owners. Friendship with other pets helps you to regain the ability to trust others and learn new ways to handle relationships.

Pets are also known to ease social pressures that your friends and companions feel when they visit you. Friends may not have a lot to share. However, on meeting a pet at home he or she can start a small chat around the dog. Soon, the ice is broken, and other topics come into the foreground.

Keeps you active

As you recover, you need to keep your energy levels up by keeping yourself busy. Unfortunately, you are likely to end up feeling worn-out. A dog can come in to keep you motivated. Animals are exercise ready and awesome exercise companions. You may put off your next activity if you feel like not doing it. However, you cannot keep postponing your dog care activities such a dog walking, playing with the pet, and grooming. You will be forced to compose yourself and do what you are required to do. This motivation slowly turns seemingly tough or boring activities into routine activities. In addition, remaining active improves the rate of recovery and lowers the risk of relapse.

Conclusion

If you are in Austin, sober living is possible. Adopt a dog at Austin Pets Alive within walking distance from Omega Recovery Center in downtown south Austin. Having a pet near you is one of the most effective ways of speeding up recovery. Visit the pets center today and let your new friend walk with you to a drug-free life.

 

Tech Addition

Tech Addition

Are You a Tech Addict?

Here are Signs You Must Look Out For
Just this year, online divorce website Divorce Online cited addiction to the video game ‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ as responsible for at least 200 divorce petitions since January that were filed through their site – a whopping 5% of the petitions the company received. This is startling evidence of the adverse impacts of this new form of addiction.
If you feel that your impulse to grab the phone when you do not really need to, or can no longer resist spending nights gaming, you may be suffering from tech addiction. Simply put, you may have a disorder that makes you lose impulse control when it comes to technology. This disorder may also be referred to as digital addiction.
How technology addiction works
Smartphones have been integrated so deeply in people’s everyday lives that the thought of living without a device is, for many, unimaginable. These days the addiction can start at a very young age. According to Dr Nicholas Kardaras, “Current clinical research correlates screen tech with disorders like ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression, and even psychosis. Most shocking of all, recent brain imaging studies conclusively show that excessive screen exposure can neurologically damage a young person’s developing brain in the same way that drug addiction can.”
Tech addictions have crept up on society, and the effects are so damaging that it will take a lot of effort to reverse these impacts. The potential to abuse tech devices is high. The internet offers a new dimension to access content, game non-stop, network with people, and a host of other things. Social media has become the nursery on which new addicts are born. The compulsion to like, comment, share, and tag selfies can drive people to develop attentional disorders.
Whenever the device vibrates because of a new notification or when your tweet gets more likes than you expected, dopamine, the brain’s neurochemical reward, is released. An itch is scratched. This can happen when merely thinking about what you really look forward to. The anticipation grows stronger over time until you can no longer stop playing, chatting, swiping, or doing whatever you do with your device, no matter how much you want to.
Symptoms of technology addiction
There are different types of technology addictions such as gaming addiction, gambling, texting, sexting, porn, and others. However, they all have similar symptoms because it is basically the same problem brought on by different pleasure preferences. Here are the most critical symptoms to look out for if you use technology on a daily basis.
• If you cannot stop yourself from watching one more episode or playing one more game, then you may be suffering from video gaming addiction or screen addiction.
• You feel depressed. This is particularly common among smartphone addicts. If you get to a point where you sleep with your phone next to you it is a symptom you may be addicted.
• Like any other addiction, tech addiction causes the sufferers to lie to everyone including themselves. Dishonesty, often accompanied by guilt and anxiety, is a clear giveaway.
• You feel euphoric when you use the device you are addicted to. Addicts to the Fortnite game, in particular, have attributed their problems to the satisfying feeling of euphoria when playing the 100-player multiplayer ‘Battle Royale’.
• You cannot keep schedules or prioritize. You lose the sense of time but can always make up defensive explanations.
• Procrastination and boredom with routine tasks.
• Insomnia and dry eyes for video gaming addiction.
• Lack of focus.
The people who are most susceptible to addiction are online shoppers and gamblers, gamers, texters, social media users, and video streamers.
Effects of addiction to technology
People suffering from addiction to technology could lose a lot in life. This is because the condition affects their work lives, personal and professional relationships, finances, and health. They often spend a lot of time in solitude and distrust stands out in the way they interact with people. As a result, the addicts may end up living alternate personas online to mask their online behaviors and minimize the guilt they feel.
The virtual relationships that most sufferers form online are often the primary cause of life dissatisfaction and emotional problems disrupting young children’s lives. The emotional impact of exposure to too much information has been documented to be noticeably destructive to their behavioral and empathy development.
Health problems including nervous system, dysregulated sleep and brain development delays among children. In addition, attentional problems can be traced to early exposure and addiction to technology. Screen addiction and exposure to blue light is also known to cause serious eye problems.
Overcoming technology addiction
The first step in freeing yourself from addiction to tech is acknowledging that it is a problem and resolving to fight it. An addiction is difficult to diagnose because most people do not even know they suffer from it. Health experts agree that addiction to technology and entertainment is today’s equivalent of a heroin addiction. If you have trouble saying no to a game, device, or online interaction, admitting it is the biggest step you will have taken towards freeing yourself from dependence on it.
The next step is to set goals to work towards the recovery journey. Write down when you can use the smartphone or when to sit in front of the computer and try to stick to it. You have the option to wean yourself off as you modify your behavior and regain impulse control or you can stop cold turkey. The former is effective in managing internet addiction while the latter works best for gaming addiction.
Replace your bad tech habits with healthier ones. Used to streaming shows every night after dinner? How about eating out and getting a drink with friends instead? Craving likes on Instagram? Uninstall the app instead and never have to worry about which filter to use when posting a picture on social media to get likes.
Perhaps the most rewarding change you can make in your life to solve problems caused by addiction to gadgets is mending fences with the people around you. Make a commitment to curb the addiction and spend more quality time with the people who care about you. This will speed up the recovery process while restoring your relationships with real value.
If you feel the degree of your addiction is beyond your capacity to overcome, consider talking to a professional for help. There is help available at Omega Recovery in downtown Austin, TX and Maui Recovery. Technology is supposed to work for you; if you have gotten to a point where it is ruining your chances of a good life, it’s time to take action.
Our culture demands that we rely on technology in our everyday life. However, you must take steps to ensure that you are not trapped in a spiral of addiction. If you find that you have no control over your use of gadgets, it’s time to seek help.
Experiential Mondays at Omega Recovery

Experiential Mondays at Omega Recovery

Experiential Mondays

at Omega Recovery

At Omega Recovery we deliver world class recovery & clinical treatment to our patients in our IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program). We provide the support needed during the first few months after rehab, the most vital time in the recovery process, re-integrating into society. One of our Intensive Outpatient groups below are enjoying some kayaking on lake Austin as part of Experiential Mondays. We believe in taking time to be active, seek continual learning while reflecting, meditating and building a personal relationship with one’s higher power.

Clients kayaking on town lake heading under the congress bridge

We truly care about helping our patients identify and resolve their issues at the core, and to learn experientially how to achieve their goals and live a full, active, healthy and vibrant life with balance, meaning and purpose.

Client paddle boarding on town lake

Our senior level team has 50+ years of sobriety. We truly understand the process requires a lot of support and we are here with around the clock staff to give the care they deserve.

Photo of bridge by congress avenue with graffiti art work of Pac-Man with the words, never give up

At Omega Recovery we know the first few months after rehab can be challenging. We’re here to make sure you working a strong aftercare program and have the support you need to work through your issues.  Rock climbing is just one of the few activities we partake in on Experiential Mondays.

Picture of female client indoor rock climbing

In our IOP program you’ll experience and accomplish things you never thought possible, while making friendships along the journey who are also committed to a new way of life.

Photo of male client indoor rock climbing, on his way down the wall

We believe in taking time to rejoice in your successes along the way, while creating essential community that will always be there to lift you up when you need a hand.

Client indoor rock climbing took a moment to pause just a few feet from the top and pose for a photo

Come join us and go on the greatest adventure of your life. See you at the Top!

Photo of client indoor rock climbing smiling as he reached the top of the wall

To learn more about what we can provide for you, please visit our website at www.omegarecovery.org

The Perfect Storm of Addiction

The Perfect Storm of Addiction

At Omega Recovery we view addiction as a self-medicating symptom of some other underlying distress. That underlying distress can be different in each person: childhood trauma, psychiatric imbalance, physical pain, toxic relationships, existential crisis, habituation to addictive medication, personality disorders, unresolved bereavement, internalized shame, etc. For each person, those issues can come together to form a unique “perfect storm” of active addiction. But meaningful recovery is not just detoxing the person from the substances or the addictive behavior; it’s understanding and then treating the issues that led to the self-medication and also helping the struggling addict develop a better sense of Self–and to re-write and reframe their “story” in a more healthy and meaningful way.

Further, we understand that addiction corresponds very highly–by some estimates, over 70% of the time–with other mental health disorders, primarily anxiety and depression; that in those cases, the addiction is the result of a person who is attempting to self-medicate the anxiety and/or depression, but then became hooked or dependent on the alcohol, substances or behaviors that were providing some relief for the depression and anxiety. But what the field of psychology is beginning to understand–and what we embrace at Omega Recovery–is that many of these underlying stressors (anxiety, depression, isolation, fear, low-self esteem, a sense of emptiness) are culturally based and byproducts of our modern Western society.

According to Dr. Steven Ilardi, the University of Kansas psychologist, researcher and author of The Depression Cure (Da Capo, 2009) “Americans are 10 times more likely to have depressive illness than they were 60 years ago…and a recent study found the rate of depression has more than doubled in just the past decade”. Globally, things aren’t much better; according to the World Health Organization (WHO) 450 million people worldwide are directly affected by mental disorders and disabilities and that by 2030 depression will top the list of all other health conditions as the number one financial burden around the world.

Why? Why are we getting more stressed out, more depressed and more addicted?

Texas Opiate Crisis

Texas Opiate Crisis

The increasingly prevalent use of opioids has triggered one of the most serious drug crises in the country’s history. In almost every state, fatal overdoses are being reported on an almost daily basis. Here’s what you need to know about the crisis in Texas.

The Use of Opioids appears to be Most Prevalent in East and North Texas

Reports show that opioid-related admissions and fatalities are concentrated in East and North Texas, which includes a lot of rural counties. Overdose fatalities due to opioid use in some counties in Texas surpassed 24 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.

Various counties by the Red River have also recorded increased rates of drug overdose mortalities. For example, Baylor County has recorded over 30 fatalities per 100,000, which is the highest in the state.

Half of all Opioid-Related Deaths Are as a Result of Legally Prescribed Opioid Medications

Interestingly, the majority of people who have an opioid use disorder trace their addiction back to legally prescribed opioid painkillers. The leading sources of these opioid prescriptions include doctors, dentists, and surgeons. Consequently, reports indicate that drug overdoses are most prevalent in areas where most opioid prescriptions are made.

And because prescribed opioid painkillers are becoming increasingly harder to get, individuals who developed a dependency on those medications transition to the use of illegal opiates such as heroin. Heroin produces a similar sensation to the medication while being easier and cheaper to obtain. What is even more concerning is that this drug is being laced with lethal synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Drug traffickers are lacing heroin with fentanyl to make their product even more potent as fentanyl is about 50 times stronger than morphine. As a result, the likelihood of an overdose is dramatically increased. In fact, deaths that were fentanyl-related almost doubled between 2015 and 2016.


Of the 1,174 opioid-related deaths reported in 2015, prescribed opioids accounted for 517, heroin had 516, while synthetic opioids resulted in 153 deaths.

Texas’ Opioid Crisis Could Get Worse

While fentanyl-laced illegal opiates are the leading cause of recent overdose fatalities nationally, in Texas, fentanyl has only caused about 4 percent of heroin-related deaths. This is because the most common type of heroin available in Texas, known as blacks tar, is a lot harder to mix with the synthetic opioid as compared to white powder heroin.

However, that safety bubble is about to bust as reports indicate that white powder heroin is becoming increasingly available in Texas. Moreover, drug dealers are already mixing fentanyl with black tar. Additionally, more and more illicit drugs are getting laced with fentanyl, thus increasing the risk of fentanyl-related overdoses.

As we have covered, opioid use is very likely to result in dependency and addiction. This addiction is eventually what leads to an overdose as the addict needs to take more and more to achieve the same level of high.

What Happens When You Take an Opioid?

Upon ingesting, inhaling, or injecting an opioid into their body, the opioid enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. There, it attaches to an opioid receptor which reduces the perception of pain thus having a sedating effect.

For most people, the stimulation of opioid receptors causes a mild pleasurable sensation. Others report feeling a sense of well-being while others say they feel motivated or energized. Others might experience unpleasant side effects such as irritability, nausea, and vomiting.

There are also those who experience an intense euphoria upon taking an opioid. Unfortunately, these are the individuals who are likely to develop a dependency on the drug thus leading to addiction.

Nonetheless, the body gradually builds a tolerance towards the drug. As such, the individual has to take larger quantities of the opioid to achieve their desired euphoric sensation. This results in long-term changes in the brain’s structure and function. Consequently, this results in changes in their behavior as well.


What is Opioid Dependence?

This is an addiction to opioids. Thus, it is a brain condition characterized by both a physical as well as a psychological need for the drug and therefore requires opioid addiction treatment. A dependent or addicted individual is one who exhibits compulsive opioid use despite the obvious harm the drug poses. They cannot seem to stop their use even though they know that they should stop.

An opioid addiction is typically characterized by intense cravings and the subsequent loss of control over their usage. Behaviors that signal a need for opioid dependency treatment include:

 Loss of control over usage

 Denying that there is a problem

 Spending a lot of time looking for and using opioids

 Missing out on important obligations because of opioid use

 A persistent desire to quit but failing frequently

 Continued use despite the harm it poses.

Getting over an opioid addiction can be a challenging endeavor. This is because, as mentioned earlier, an opioid addiction typically results in long-term changes to the brain’s configuration. Consequently, the individual is unable to stay long periods without using.

Moreover, the withdrawal effects that follow the stoppage of use are dangerous and can even be fatal. As such, professional help is necessary to help the addicted individual to get over their dependency safely while reducing the chance of a relapse. The following are some of the most effective opioid addiction treatments available in Texas:

• Inpatient Opioid Rehab

Here, the patient checks into a rehab facility where their treatment is overseen by a team of medical specialists. First, the addict is helped to cease their drug use through structured pain management programs that help them deal with the withdrawal effects that follow stoppage. Additionally, the patient receives psychological treatment that aims to address the root of their addiction while helping them find better ways to cope so as to prevent future relapses.

• Intensive Outpatient Programs

Also known as partial hospitalization programs, people who opt for intensive outpatient programs will still receive the necessary medication to help them manage their withdrawal symptoms and to aid in recovery and sober living. Thus, the patient will still be living at home, going to work, and spending time with their loved ones.

Nevertheless, they will have to make regular clinic visits up to 6 times a week so their progress can be monitored. The individual will also receive mental health assessments as well as therapy.

Partial hospitalization programs are a good substitute for inpatient rehab in certain cases. Your doctor should help you determine whether they are a good fit for the addicted individual.

• Ambulatory Detoxification Program

An ambulatory detoxification program is a type of outpatient treatment as it provides the benefits of inpatient detoxification but at a less restrictive and more cost-effective setting. Ambulatory detox programs typically offer all the services expected in an outpatient program.

Nevertheless, this treatment is only suitable for patients who have or are expected to have, mild to moderate symptoms of withdrawal. Therefore, a person who experiences severe withdrawal symptoms needs inpatient treatment as this will allow for medical oversight to ensure that the withdrawal symptoms do not result in a fatality.


With opioid use becoming more prevalent in Texas, it is necessary that we do what all we can to prevent unnecessary deaths. If you have a loved one suffering from opioid use or abuse, getting them to an addiction treatment center sooner will help you turn their lives around, so they do not end up as another opioid-related statistic. Guide them to the path to sober living.

The connection between drug use, video games, deadly weapons and school shootings.

The connection between drug use, video games, deadly weapons and school shootings.

In the wake of school shootings by teenagers, everyone is running back and forth trying to find a possible cause to these monstrosities. Why would a ‘normal’ kid suddenly go berserk and try to end the lives of their teachers and peers?

While each case is different due to the various variables that could have triggered each shooter, there are things that most of them have in common and which are worth investigating. Is there a link between video games, drug abuse, and the availability of violent weapons such as guns and the shootings? This article will discuss that connection.

The Connection between Video Games and School Shootings

Most high school going kids are more than likely active gamers. And while video games have been shown to significantly improve visual-spatial skills, there can be too much of a good thing. Video games, especially modern ones that are mission-centered, are designed to hook the individual for hours on end. Additionally, there are so many levels or layers to a game that it might take weeks or months for one to complete just one game. And with the thousands of games available, the individual is more than likely going to have a lot on their hands. This constant playing is likely to result in a condition known as video gaming addiction.

In fact, the World Health Organization recently added ‘gaming disorder’ to its list of mental health conditions.

Gaming disorder can be used synonymously with video gaming addiction and refers to the condition where an individual loses control over their gaming habits, and they start prioritizing gaming over other interests.

But what does this have to do with shootings?

While some people play video games for purely recreational purposes, others use gaming as a coping mechanism for their stress and anxiety. As such, understanding the motivation behind the gaming is key to identifying the cause of their disorder. A study found that using gaming as a coping mechanism for stress resulted in even higher levels of stress.

To understand how video games are a contributory factor towards school shootings, let us look at the link between mental illnesses and school shootings.

The Connection between Mental Illness and School Shootings

According to the book, Gun Violence and Mental Illness, individuals who commit mass shootings are known to plan well in advance. They usually bottle up extreme feelings of anger and revenge. And because they are typically socially isolated, they tend to act alone most of the time.

The book further notes that there are common traits among the shooters in addition to historical factors that contribute to the massacres. In fact, a case study done on five murderers revealed that, during childhood, they began seeing people as uncaring and rejecting.

All subjects had been isolated or bullied during their childhoods, and they inevitably became loners who despaired over their social alienation. These led to paranoid tendencies such as grudge holding and suspiciousness.

Consequently, they spent a significant amount of time harboring feelings of resentment as they ruminated on past humiliations. This constant rumination eventually evolved into fantasies of violent revenge.

All the above are indicators of an underlying mental illness caused by the constant stress and anxiety felt by these individuals.

Coping Using Video Games

As a result of their social alienation, school shooters use video games as a means of coping. And they will spend hours on end playing these games. The American Psychological Association conducted a review of research and found out that individuals who play violent video games were more likely to engage in aggressive behavior.

If video games can foster violent behavior in mentally stable individuals, think about the impact they have on kids harboring violent revenge fantasies.

In addition to increasing an individual’s levels of aggression, violent video games have been found to desensitize gamers to violence. As a result, they have a lower value for human life. Consequently, the gamer’s lost empathy makes them more likely to take human life without the feelings of remorse that would affect a ‘normal’ person.

Drug Abuse and School Shootings

One of the more prominent mental health watchdogs, CCHR (the Citizens Commission on Human Rights), has been investigating school shootings since the Columbine High School incidence in 1999. The body’s investigation into school shootings reveals that at least 36 school shootings have been orchestrated by individuals using or withdrawing from the use of psychotropic drugs resulting in 80 fatalities and over 170 wounded.

Psychiatric drugs are typically prescribed to individuals with mental health problems to help them cope with stress or anxiety. Individuals might eventually end up developing a dependency on these drugs. Consequently, they start abusing the drugs, and drug addiction follows.

When the drug addiction becomes a real problem, withdrawing is usually the next logical step. However, a 2012 study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics revealed that withdrawing from psychotropic drugs can lead to violent and aggressive behavior.

Video Games, Mental Illness, and Drug Abuse

Most school shooters usually have an underlying form of mental illness. Even though the specifics may vary among shooters, most of them, however; have been found to have had a troubling childhood. Often bullied or isolated, these individuals become loners who use video games as a coping mechanism. All while fantasizing on violent revenge.

Video games, on the other hand, have been found to increase the levels of aggression in the gamer while desensitizing them to violence. This results in reduced empathy which makes the person more likely to commit a shooting.

Psychotropic drugs are used to help individuals with mental illnesses to better cope with their stress and anxiety. And due to the high levels of stress these individuals have to cope with daily, they are more than likely going to get addicted to the drugs, whose withdrawal increases their aggression further.

It does not help that guns can be easily found in American households. In fact, an analysis of 145 school shootings committed since 1999 revealed that 80 percent of the guns were taken from the shooter’s home or that of their relatives. And if those weapons were not so easily accessible, over two-thirds of the shootings would never have happened.

The bottom line is, when you combine mental illness, drug abuse, video games, and weapons, the likelihood of a school shooting is greatly increased. To prevent this from happening, it is important that you get to know your child better. Look out for signs of stress, anxiety, and depression. Next, take them to a recovery center that takes a holistic approach to mental health treatment rather than just prescribing drugs to the child. Doing this might just prevent yet another shooting.

Gaming disorder is an addiction

Okaz newspaper The World Health Organization recently classified “gaming disorder” as addictive behavior. Indeed, the dangerous addiction to games on the Internet is similar to the addiction to alcohol and drugs. This is a serious matter because there are adults and children who are addicted to these computer and video games on a daily basis. The addicted person is isolated socially and suffers from mood swings, limited imagination and an extreme focus on achievement in these games, which is measured by passing from one game level to another. Addicts totally isolate themselves from real-life events. Gaming disorder was not classified as a disease in 2013 because of incomplete evidence. This year it was classified as a disease because the evidence is now completed. There is evidence of people in South Korea and the United States who bring their lives to a temporary halt because of these games. The overwhelming majority of those suffering from gaming disorder are students at the middle and high school level. While these addicts are teenagers, it has been reported that there is an increase of people in their 30s and 40s who are addicted to Internet games. It is not necessary for a person to suffer from gaming disorder for a long time to be classified as a sick person. People are classified as suffering from gaming disorder when they are facing problems with relationships and at work because of their excessive involvement with games. For example, such people cannot control the amount of time that they play and to them, gaming is a priority in their daily life. Such people will neglect their work and study. If these symptoms continue for more than a year, then they can be classified as suffering from gaming disorder and they need help.
Our Mental Health Crisis as a Cultural Phenomenon

Our Mental Health Crisis as a Cultural Phenomenon

Dr. Ilardi thinks that he’s found the answer: Increased rates of depression and other mental health woes like anxiety and addiction are a byproduct of our modernized, industrialized and urbanized lives. Our love affair with the gadgets and comforts of being a highly technologically evolved society have put us on a never-ending treadmill of overworking, under-sleeping and hyper-stressing as we exhaustedly lunge towards the “American Dream”.

What happens when we work longer hours in soul-crushing cubicles to buy things that we don’t need? According to Dr. Ilardi: “We’ve been engineering the activity out of our lives. The levels of bright-light exposure-time spent outdoors have been declining. The average adult gets just over six and a half hours of sleep a night. It used to be nine hours a night. There’s increasing isolation, fragmentation, the erosion of community.”

Thus, according to Ilardi, “We feel perpetually stressed.”

Dr. Ilardi had found that certain societies-such as the American Amish and the Kaluli people of Papua New Guinea, had essentially zero rates of depression or other mental health disorders. But how can this be? We are all essentially wired the same way–have the same DNA. And these cultures that were much more mentally healthy than ours certainly didn’t live stress-free lives. Indeed, by many measures, it is a lot more difficult living as a hunter-gatherer in New Guinea or working from-morning-to-dusk as the Pennsylvania Amish do.

So then how and why are they so mentally healthy? Answer: Their lifestyle.

The connection between drug use, video games, deadly weapons and school shootings.

The connection between drug use, video games, deadly weapons and school shootings.

In the wake of school shootings by teenagers, everyone is running back and forth trying to find a possible cause to these monstrosities. Why would a ‘normal’ kid suddenly go berserk and try to end the lives of their teachers and peers?

While each case is different due to the various variables that could have triggered each shooter, there are things that most of them have in common and which are worth investigating. Is there a link between video games, drug abuse, and the availability of violent weapons such as guns and the shootings? This article will discuss that connection.

The Connection between Video Games and School Shootings

Most high school going kids are more than likely active gamers. And while video games have been shown to significantly improve visual-spatial skills, there can be too much of a good thing. Video games, especially modern ones that are mission-centered, are designed to hook the individual for hours on end. Additionally, there are so many levels or layers to a game that it might take weeks or months for one to complete just one game. And with the thousands of games available, the individual is more than likely going to have a lot on their hands. This constant playing is likely to result in a condition known as video gaming addiction.

In fact, the World Health Organization recently added ‘gaming disorder’ to its list of mental health conditions.

Gaming disorder can be used synonymously with video gaming addiction and refers to the condition where an individual loses control over their gaming habits, and they start prioritizing gaming over other interests.

But what does this have to do with shootings?

While some people play video games for purely recreational purposes, others use gaming as a coping mechanism for their stress and anxiety. As such, understanding the motivation behind the gaming is key to identifying the cause of their disorder. A study found that using gaming as a coping mechanism for stress resulted in even higher levels of stress.

To understand how video games are a contributory factor towards school shootings, let us look at the link between mental illnesses and school shootings.

The Connection between Mental Illness and School Shootings

According to the book, Gun Violence and Mental Illness, individuals who commit mass shootings are known to plan well in advance. They usually bottle up extreme feelings of anger and revenge. And because they are typically socially isolated, they tend to act alone most of the time.

The book further notes that there are common traits among the shooters in addition to historical factors that contribute to the massacres. In fact, a case study done on five murderers revealed that, during childhood, they began seeing people as uncaring and rejecting.

All subjects had been isolated or bullied during their childhoods, and they inevitably became loners who despaired over their social alienation. These led to paranoid tendencies such as grudge holding and suspiciousness.

Consequently, they spent a significant amount of time harboring feelings of resentment as they ruminated on past humiliations. This constant rumination eventually evolved into fantasies of violent revenge.

All the above are indicators of an underlying mental illness caused by the constant stress and anxiety felt by these individuals.

Coping Using Video Games

As a result of their social alienation, school shooters use video games as a means of coping. And they will spend hours on end playing these games. The American Psychological Association conducted a review of research and found out that individuals who play violent video games were more likely to engage in aggressive behavior.

If video games can foster violent behavior in mentally stable individuals, think about the impact they have on kids harboring violent revenge fantasies.

In addition to increasing an individual’s levels of aggression, violent video games have been found to desensitize gamers to violence. As a result, they have a lower value for human life. Consequently, the gamer’s lost empathy makes them more likely to take human life without the feelings of remorse that would affect a ‘normal’ person.

Drug Abuse and School Shootings

One of the more prominent mental health watchdogs, CCHR (the Citizens Commission on Human Rights), has been investigating school shootings since the Columbine High School incidence in 1999. The body’s investigation into school shootings reveals that at least 36 school shootings have been orchestrated by individuals using or withdrawing from the use of psychotropic drugs resulting in 80 fatalities and over 170 wounded.

Psychiatric drugs are typically prescribed to individuals with mental health problems to help them cope with stress or anxiety. Individuals might eventually end up developing a dependency on these drugs. Consequently, they start abusing the drugs, and drug addiction follows.

When the drug addiction becomes a real problem, withdrawing is usually the next logical step. However, a 2012 study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics revealed that withdrawing from psychotropic drugs can lead to violent and aggressive behavior.

Video Games, Mental Illness, and Drug Abuse

Most school shooters usually have an underlying form of mental illness. Even though the specifics may vary among shooters, most of them, however; have been found to have had a troubling childhood. Often bullied or isolated, these individuals become loners who use video games as a coping mechanism. All while fantasizing on violent revenge.

Video games, on the other hand, have been found to increase the levels of aggression in the gamer while desensitizing them to violence. This results in reduced empathy which makes the person more likely to commit a shooting.

Psychotropic drugs are used to help individuals with mental illnesses to better cope with their stress and anxiety. And due to the high levels of stress these individuals have to cope with daily, they are more than likely going to get addicted to the drugs, whose withdrawal increases their aggression further.

It does not help that guns can be easily found in American households. In fact, an analysis of 145 school shootings committed since 1999 revealed that 80 percent of the guns were taken from the shooter’s home or that of their relatives. And if those weapons were not so easily accessible, over two-thirds of the shootings would never have happened.

The bottom line is, when you combine mental illness, drug abuse, video games, and weapons, the likelihood of a school shooting is greatly increased. To prevent this from happening, it is important that you get to know your child better. Look out for signs of stress, anxiety, and depression. Next, take them to a recovery center that takes a holistic approach to mental health treatment rather than just prescribing drugs to the child. Doing this might just prevent yet another shooting.

Your Kid’s Brain on Video Games

Your Kid’s Brain on Video Games

Over the last ten years, video games have steadily etched their way into one of the most preferred form of entertainment throughout the world as a result of the steady decrease in TV viewing habits. This is because video games are no longer limited to arcades or homes. Portable systems and mobile devices have made gaming a possibility no matter where you are. Nonetheless, consoles and computers remain widely popular gaming systems.

This ubiquitous nature of video games is the main cause of video gaming addiction in teens and children as they do not know when they should stop playing. Not surprisingly, parents are becoming increasingly concerned about this screen addiction. It is a major cause of worry when you notice that video games are the top priority in your child’s life. The child may start neglecting their hobbies, friends, sports, and schoolwork. Moreover, they may lash out at anyone who tries to limit their gaming.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has it that, on average, kids today spend about seven hours each day on some type of electronic device. Additionally, about 97% of kids aged between 12 and 17 play video games regularly.

Understandably, as a parent, you may start wondering whether your child has an actual addiction to video games. And if so, is their brain in danger? This article will take a closer look at video game addiction and how it can affect your child’s brain and life?

What is Video Game Addiction?

Gaming addiction refers to the compulsive and uncontrolled use of digital games, in a manner that results in problems in other areas of the gamer’s life. It is, therefore, considered a form of tech addiction or screen addiction. Video gaming addiction is an issue of increasing concern among parents as digital games become more popular and are increasingly being targeted at children. These include console games, computer games, cell phone games, and arcade games. Today, they are even embedded in social networking sites.

How Do Video Games Affect the Brain?

Most games are designed to trigger the sensory responses that humans use when they are exposed to danger. Whenever the brain feels threatened or senses danger, it kicks in our primitive survival mechanisms that work to protect us from harm. This is an instantaneous response that has been hardwired into our genes to ensure our survival. Nonetheless, a threat does not have to be real for this response to be triggered. It only takes the brain to perceive danger for the body to react.

Upon triggering this instinct, the nervous system and hormones work to jolt our state of arousal to enable faster reactions. As such, the body goes into a state of hyperarousal – commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight response. The issue, however, is that the feelings associated with this state are typically difficult to shake off even after the threat (real or perceived) is long gone.

The hyperarousal state is also referred to as ‘running from the tiger,’ since our ancestors literally had to protect themselves from predators by either fighting or running. Even though most humans today do not live in fear of predation, we still need this rapid stress response when we are in emergency situations or even the mild day-to-day stress reactions that help us to get things done. However, repeatedly going through this response when survival is not at stake does more harm than good in the long run.

As mentioned earlier, after a fight or flight stress response, the brain usually has a hard time regulating itself to a calm state. As such, when this response occurs regularly or too intensely, it can lead to a state of chronic stress. Stress is usually as a result of the mismatch between the survival response reactions and energy expenditure, as is typical with video games. When your body goes into that response, it builds up energy to help you through that moment. As such, this energy needs to be physically discharged so that the nervous system can re-regulate. When that energy is not discharged, the nervous system does not re-regulate effectively thus leading to chronic stress.

Once the body goes into a state of chronic stress, blood flow is directed away from the frontal lobe (the higher thinking part of the brain) and towards the deeper, primitive areas which are designed to help you survive adverse situations. The result is a functioning impairment.

Chronic stress sets in faster in children than in adults. This is because their nervous systems are still developing thus making those sequence of events to occur a lot faster in them. And when a child becomes chronically stressed, they soon begin to struggle.

And because the primary effect of chronic stress is felt on the frontal lobe, the child becomes mentally depleted. This leads to issues such as having trouble paying attention, suppressed impulses,an inability to manage emotions, difficulty following directions, frustration, and a hard time executing tasks. Moreover, these effects are compounded by the amount of screen-time that is spent playing these games. The body clock of a heavy gamer is usually distorted thus hindering deep sleep. Missing quality sleep regularly will result in mood, cognitive, and behavior issues.

How Gaming Addiction Compares to Other Addictions

An addiction to video games is similar to other addictions in terms of the amount of time and effort channeled into the activity, the emotional attachment involved, and the patterns of social difficulties displayed by the gamers.

As is the case with other addictions, video game addicts are preoccupied with gaming, thus disrupting their relationships, hobbies, and school. The younger a child begins to play video games, the more the likelihood that they will develop a dependence on video games.

Other Harmful Effects Associated With Video Games

In addition to addiction, the following are other harmful effects that have been linked to heavy video game use:

 An increased vulnerability to light-induced seizures, enhanced metabolic rate, and musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities.

 Reduced cooperative behavior during group settings or social interactions.

 An increase in aggressive thoughts and behaviors especially in children under the age of ten.

Research done on video game addicts reveals that, in general, they exhibit poorer mental health characterized by a decrease in cognitive abilities such as poor impulse control and ADHD symptoms. Moreover, individuals who are addicted to video games also tend to experience emotional difficulties, as well as being highly susceptible to anxiety and depression. They also report as feeling socially isolated, in addition to being more likely to have issues with internet pornography.

Parents need to learn the science behind how the time spent playing video games can overstimulate the nervous system, and how those effects manifest themselves, especially in their own child. By learning this information, parents will be better equipped to make strategic decisions regarding the role of video games in their children’s lives. It puts them in the driver’s seat rather than constantly being swayed by misleading headlines and cultural headlines.

Unfortunately, gaming addiction is a relatively new psychological problem, and as such, it can be difficult for parents to find experts who specialize in video game addiction. Nonetheless, help is available for parents looking to help their kids to overcome their tech addiction. Omega Recovery is a contemporary addiction treatment center run by experts with a breadth of knowledge across all areas of addiction. Are you looking to curb your child’s gaming addiction? Contact us today, and we will be glad to help.

Navigating Safely into the New Year while in Recovery

While recovering from any addiction, it’s important to avoid anything that can trigger a relapse. This is especially difficult during the Christmas season because the holiday tends to be longer than the others. Also, there are more celebrations, family and friends reunions scheduled for this time of the year than at any other time of the year.

To stay sober, you should start your Christmas holiday and transition on to the New Year with a resolve to stay sober. As hard as it might be, especially for a person who has just gone through intensive treatment for an addiction, it is crucial that you discipline yourself and be aware of negative habits that might crop up as you try to avoid the primary addiction. Here are strategies for staying sober during the holiday season.

Have a Plan

It’s the festive season and just because you are in recovery does not mean that you cannot have some fun as most of the world is. The only important thing is to have a plan. Only attend important meetups or celebrations and have with you someone close to watch and offer the support system you need. Some alcohol addiction patients may get an urge or temptation to taste alcohol just by seeing or smelling it at the party. If you think you can have these tendencies avoid such parties. Most family gatherings are relaxed and have less alcohol served. These can be ideal for a start. However, when going to such parties, prepare your mind for any eventuality. You might come face to face with alcohol, smell it and even watch people as they enjoy the drink. You can carry with you an alcohol-free drink that soothes you and helps keep your mind off alcohol.

Reduce Stress

Stress can trigger a relapse. Some situations are unavoidable but being prepared can make a lot of difference. Apart from the celebrations, sibling rivalry, fights with friends and other misunderstandings are a normal part of the festive season. You cannot avoid people because this can lead to other problems like screen addiction or tech addiction as happens to people who stay indoors for too long. To avoid stress, always be in the company of people who understand, support and are ready to help you through the setbacks. If you reach out to stress-relieving pills every time you experience anxiety or stress, you are at  risk of dependency or drug addiction.

Avoid Old Friends

As much as you can, avoid friends you used to party with or who drink or abuse drugs. The more you associate yourself with them, the easier it will be for you to slip back to your old ways. Sober living requires you to drop as many of your old friends as possible and get new ones, probably those who are walking your journey. When you have like-minded people, the journey becomes easier, and there are fewer temptations along the way. If you can’t avoid drinking friends, let them know of your intentions to stay sober, the effort you have been putting to fight alcohol addiction and ask for their help. Most probably they already know you were drinking way too much or were battling other addictions such as tech addiction or screen addiction. Ask them to avoid bringing alcohol along when they visit you.

Eat

People wait in line for 4 to 5 hours to taste the food from Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. Matthew Odam’s Top 10 barbecue restaurants in Austin. 05.06 2014 LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN 052314 xl cover

Hunger is one of the triggers for most addictions including alcohol,video gaming addiction, and drug addiction. Having a meal or snack every three hours ensures that your blood sugar levels are optimal, your thinking is not affected and you have the energy to make the right decisions. Before joining a party, make sure you have eaten well, you can even carry a snack along. Other triggers include anger, loneliness, and fatigue. If you find yourself idle, your mind can go back to the things it was accustomed to.

To avoid tech or video gaming addiction, keep yourself busy with meaningful things. Being in control of your mental and physical health is important for your wellbeing. When you overwork, your energy levels go down which can trigger a relapse. Holiday festivals demand that you sleep late, party a lot and work hard to entertain guests. Having a plan ensures you get enough sleep and take breaks to avoid burning out.

Learn How to Say No

Most often, recovering patients shy away from telling their extended families or friends about their healing process. This puts them into awkward situations in parties or family gatherings where alcohol is being served. A well-meaning aunt or friend can hand you a glass or a whole bottle of wine, how do you politely say no? You need to have rehearsed this before. This gives you the preparedness to say no and settle for it. You don’t have to say no to the offer outrightly but can use a clever way to get out of the situation. Not involving everyone in this journey can be an advantage because you don’t have to endure the judgment that comes with such a revelation but you need to have a plan that gets you out of any tricky situation. To be on the safe side, always have an accountability partner every time you attend parties.

Evaluate Your Progress

It’s not an easy journey. Sometimes you will fall, other times you will have relapses, and in some instances, you will feel desperate and ready to give up. The urge to drink at times will be so strong that sober living will seem like an impossibility. Do not be too hard on yourself. If you slip once or twice, dust yourself and keep pushing forward. With time, things will get better. To be on the safe side, book yourself into more stay sober treats and make sure you attend all your therapy and counseling sessions. If possible, stick close to the support groups, make friends within the circle and find entertaining but safe ways to spend the holidays within the circle. This is especially important if you have just come out of an intensive treatment plan.

What you should always remember during the New Year season is that there are busy and not too busy triggers. Busy triggers include friends and family parties and old friends visiting you. Not busy triggers include loneliness, shame, guilt, and loss.

Conclusion

It’s essential to identify each emotion and take the necessary steps to deal with it. One of the things you may experience when around the extended family is low self-esteem. Addiction comes with a loss of earnings, poor health, marital and family problems that cannot be hidden. People may judge you, others may not be willing to forgive or accept you back or even help you on the journey to recovery, but you need to be strong and always stay close to positive people who embrace and love you just the way you are. If all fails, opt for sober living houses. This will significantly help you transition into the new year sober and focused on your long-term goal of kicking out the addiction.

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