Can We Start A Detox Center For People Addicted To Calling People Addicts?

from the just-wondering dept

We’ve talked in the past about how certain psychologists seem addicted to coming up with new addictions for things that probably aren’t actually addictive. Usually, this seems to include some new technology. So, there’s email addiction, web addiction, online porn, mobile phones or the whole damn internet. Of course, in most of these cases, the addiction word is used to create an emotional response. It makes people think of chemical dependencies, such as to illegal drugs or smoking. In many cases, the “addictions” described aren’t really addictions, but an indication of a different problem, such as depression. However, treating depression can be hard. Treating an addiction can be easy: you just keep the person away from what they’re addicted to. If there’s no real chemical dependency, people may get upset, but they are a lot less likely to totally freak out. Perhaps that’s why some folks who would prefer to work on these types of “addictions” keep popping up in the news. It must be good for business to come up with some bogus addiction and get lots of press coverage out of it. The latest is a story about a new “detox center” for video game addictions. This one was set up by (I kid you not) a group of “addiction consultants.” Perhaps treating drug addicts was a bit too much of a pain, so they figured video gamers (or worried parents of rich suburban video gamers) would be easier targets. The article quotes one of the addiction consultants, who rolls out all kinds of expected stories about kids who have no social skills, and how the kids may break out in shaking and sweats when withdrawn from computer games. It makes for a good read, and most of the quotes seem to be directed at parents who fear their kids may be lost to gaming addiction. Amusingly, the two example cases they trot out, both appear to have drug, not gaming addictions — but the addiction consultant convinced them the root cause of their drug addiction is actually this gaming addiction. The addiction consultant mentions how playing games makes endorphins kick in, leading to the addiction — in an attempt to show how video gaming can have a chemical dependency issue as well. Of course, there’s one fairly big problem with this whole thing. Medical research a few years ago showed there’s no such thing as a chemical addiction to video games, and that games are no more addictive than school or work.


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Comments on “Can We Start A Detox Center For People Addicted To Calling People Addicts?”

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58 Comments
dorpus says:

Epidemiology Background?

So do you care to cite evidence for the notion that addictions are always an “indication of a different problem, such as depression”? Or that “treating an addiction can be easy: you just keep the person away from what they’re addicted to”? Would you also care to prove that addictions are necessarily “chemical”?

Of course, I’m assuming you know how to use the appropriate terms such as Kappa statistics, cross-tabulation, positive predictive value, or stratification. I’m taking an epidemiology summer course to finish up my masters degree, so I was just curious.

Ben says:

Re: Epidemiology Background?

Dorpus, are you addicted to causing trouble? all you do on this site is try and stir up trouble. don’t you have anything better to do?

Can you explain how you can be addicted to something that doesn’t cause a chemical dependancy? How can you suffer from withdrawl? Have you ever heard of a case where not talking on a cell phone caused someone to convulse from lack of communication? Or how about a kid who’s heart gave out cause he didnt get his gaming fix for a day?

And, yes keeping someone away from what they are addicted to is a treatment, if they can’t do what they are addicted to then they become non-dependent.

poor dorpus, so lonely he needs to get attention by causing trouble. were you the bully in school? had to beat up on little kids to feel better about yourself?

Bob says:

Re: Re: Epidemiology Background?

Dorpus has a penchant for firing up the ol’ chatterbox we call a forum/blog/chatroom. His comments always spur discussion. Whichever direction it takes is up to all of you ENABLERS who call into question his motives or style of commenting only to give him the feedback/attention you accuse him of wanting.

So just as my dad enables my mom by bringing home a new bottle of Beam every week, you are enabling Dorpus by giving him the feedback that you yourself seem undesirous of providing. Wait for it…

This addiction to enabling Dorpus is your own issue stemming from your own addiction to flaming those with whom you disagree.

The only way to keep dorpus from commenting would be to never, ever respond to or acknowledge Dorpus’ comments or even mention his name. This would cure his addiction of posting the comments you consider inflammatory. Unless it’s not an addiction, but rather a simple matter of being an active contributor in a community. Some contributors are not as popular as they are infamous, but neither label makes much difference. The point of this forum is to share ideas so we can filter through all of the perspectives surrounding a topic.

Dorpus, Ben,

Thank you both for enriching my Tech Dirt experience and giving me an escape from work.

Rick says:

Re: Epidemiology Background?

what a maroon, addiction is real what people become addicted to is’nt the point

alcohol,drugs,food,sex, addicts suffer from a real illnes that is made up of compulsion/progession. that can be treated.. the focus should be on the real treatment, what is the real treatment for addicts? cleaning house, living right

simple but not easy for someone who suffers from addiction

Dork says:

Re: Epidemiology Background?

Hmmm…

Well statistical terminology and science are not one and the same.

Stats are a tool used to analyze data and give meaning to it.

Just because there are stats and experiments involved doesn’t mean that either is accurate or valid.

Besides, the article isn’t claiming an absolute cause but rather mentions numerous cases of such a relation.

This article does not suggest a discourse on epidemiology but rather a comparison of addiction to technology and peoples use of it. The addiction mentioned is chemically induced by, what I interpret as, narcotics.

It’s quite clear that the article refers to true addictions as those involving depression and chemical imbalances as a result.

I agree with the article, if psychologists really knew as much as their stats’ and science’s claims then we would see far more improvements in our society’s state of mental health. However, we don’t and in fact depressions, addictions, and diseases are increasing in toll and not decreasing.

Why? I believe the mental health prfessionals are off the mark and have been since the turn of the century. We know far less about Human psychology than the so called experts claim, yet the schools keep churning out more of the same mold. For no other reason than to make more money with even fewer true results or answers for mankinds diseases.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Epidemiology Background?



Hmmm…

Well statistical terminology and science are not one and the same.

Statistics and epidemiology are not the same discipline, though epidemiology does use a lot of statistics.

All sciences do depend upon statistics to validate their conclusions, even if they talk about “deduction” or “reasoning”. Physicists slam particles in accelerators millions of times to make probabilistic conclusions about their characteristics. Mathematicians have committees that vote upon theorems to decide whether to accept them as legitimate proofs, which is a random process; the result may be overturned later. Engineers design products with median survival times in mind. Businesses rely upon statistics about their customers, their employees, market conditions, to guide their decisions.



Just because there are stats and experiments involved doesn’t mean that either is accurate or valid.

Besides, the article isn’t claiming an absolute cause but rather mentions numerous cases of such a relation.

Epidemiologists have a variety of tools, such as cohort studies, matched case control, experimental studies, or logistic regression to separate spurious associations from legitimate ones. It is compared to existing knowledge of medical science to deduce conclusions. It is a process of progressive refinement, whose conclusions may be overturned later; but the processes have centuries of experience to validate the methodology. All our knowledge of physics, mathematics is built upon centuries of experience as well.

I imagine there will be interesting studies making use of Kaplan-Meier curves to examine the phenomenon of video game addiction.



I agree with the article, if psychologists really knew as much as their stats’ and science’s claims then we would see far more improvements in our society’s state of mental health. However, we don’t and in fact depressions, addictions, and diseases are increasing in toll and not decreasing.

Why? I believe the mental health prfessionals are off the mark and have been since the turn of the century. We know far less about Human psychology than the so called experts claim, yet the schools keep churning out more of the same mold. For no other reason than to make more money with even fewer true results or answers for mankinds diseases.

Psychology is indeed plagued with many variables that are difficult to measure. The use of more rigorous statistics in psychology is a growth area in science, and I may end up doing my PhD on it. For example, the behavior of schizophrenic patients over time has many fascinating mathematical properties.

Serenity says:

Re: Epidemiology Background?

My Random Thought.

Oh Masters student, shine thy giant words on me so that I may feel small. Would that I could spend so much money on an education to better myself only to end up with a Messianic complex…
You do not have to read this website, so if you have a problem then take you elitist attitude somewhere else.

By the way, for the cost of my Internet and 5 minutes of my time I had already come to just as accurate of a dicision about addiction with out the need for a pesky degree in shoveling crap, though I guess with a Masters, that is about all you can do in a field that requires a Doctorate for anyone to take you seriously… Finish school then repost.


BTW – !Dictionary.com… That sneaky little search engine!

The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Epidemiology Background?



Oh Masters student, shine thy giant words on me so that I may feel small. Would that I could spend so much money on an education to better myself only to end up with a Messianic complex… You do not have to read this website, so if you have a problem then take you elitist attitude somewhere else. By the way, for the cost of my Internet and 5 minutes of my time I had already come to just as accurate of a dicision about addiction with out the need for a pesky degree in shoveling crap, though I guess with a Masters, that is about all you can do in a field that requires a Doctorate for anyone to take you seriously… Finish school then repost.

In the case of biostatistics, there are plenty of jobs and respect available even for people with just a masters degree. There have been drastic cutbacks across the country this year in biostatistics department budgets because of the Iraq War, and 8 of 12 of my classmates who were planning to go for a PhD gave up pursuing one at this time — but I’m going to go for it anyway.

p.s. I got a full scholarship plus stipend for my masters, and I will get the same deal for my PhD. If you’re willing to study a hard topic most people aren’t willing to do, then the financial support is good.

I, for one says:

Addiction is a normal reaction to boredom

You might say pathologising every human activity and condition is a sickness itself 🙂 Sure, computer games are addictive, just like gambling on the races, watching football, drinking whiskey, even working. Anything that requires skill, knowledge or activity and brings a repeated pleasurable payoff is the same. That is the basic mechanism at the heart of all psychology, not just for humans. The sickness is in a society at odds with itself, a society that worries about the wrong things because it is in denial about the real causes of its decline. It is perpetually seeking scapegoats, afraid of its youth and unable to rationally analyse its own ills. A great example of this counterproductive self hatred is the way that we pathologise anger. Anger is a healthy emotion in response to stress and abuse. We have a problem with recognising that there are many legitimate reasons to be angry, expressing it and allowing others to express it. There are legitimate reasons to feel hopelessness, depression and so many other “negative” emotions. Labeling these as illnesses, prescribing drugs and sweeping them under the carpet is a recipe for disaster.

Yes, wasting your life on any fruitless addictive activity is madness, but madness is a sane reaction to an insane world. In the end it’s easier to change the world than it is to change human nature. We can start by providing a reason for young people to have higher aspirations, employment opportunities and a richer exposure to sports and healthy activities. That is more difficult than pointing a finger, stigmatising people and telling them they have a problem because their life is an empty desert of intellectual and social poverty. Fix the causes not the symptoms.

Doug says:

ignorance is bliss

You people at Techdirt really like to write your articles in this know-it-all attitude of “I’m right, and I can’t believe the people I’m writing about are so stupid.” But this time you’re really wandering into dangerous territory with your ignorance. A person can be addicted to anything — it’s not the ‘thing’ that causes the addiction necessarily, it’s the person using email, web, porn, or whatever to avoid dealing with their own emotions and with real life. Keeping the person away from “what they’re addicted to”, as you suggest, is the worst possible way to treat an addicted person. You need to deal with the emotions behind the addiction, not whatever thing that person chose as an outlet for their addiction.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ignorance is bliss

>>>>> it’s the person using email, web, porn, or whatever to avoid dealing with their own emotions and with real life.

Yes, I’m sure everything that someone does that is not deemed ‘acceptable’ or normal is done because they can’t deal with “real life”.

I’m addicted to oxygen. I have a problem. I must be depressed or mentally ill due to my addiction to oxygen.

someguyoutthere says:

Re: Re: ignorance is bliss

In 12-step groups, the word “addiction” is used for a behavior that is out of control and leads to demoralization. If someone has tried to stop doing something multiple times (e.g. smoking, drinking alcohol, playing video games), doesn’t want to continue doing it and yet “finds themselves” doing it again and again…that’s addiction.

You’re not addicted to air, since you wouldn’t stop breathing (though I might hope for that) and taking your next breath doesn’t leave you will a feeling of being out of control. (Though it leaves me with a twinge of depair.)

Adam says:

Re: Re: Re: ignorance is bliss

>In 12-step groups, the word “addiction” is used for a behavior that is out of control and leads to demoralization. If someone has tried to stop doing something multiple times (e.g. smoking, drinking alcohol, playing video games), doesn’t want to continue doing it and yet “finds themselves” doing it again and again…that’s addiction.

So it isn’t addiction until you admit you have a problem? If I were on heroin, cocaine, massive amounts of alcohol, and whatever else you care to mention, I wouldn’t be addicted unless I wanted to stop?

That’s probably the lamest definition for addiction I’ve ever heard, and it completely invalidates the concept of intervention. Addiction isn’t dependant on the desire to stop the action.

Bob says:

Re: Re: Re:2 ignorance is bliss

>>>>In 12-step groups, the word “addiction” is used for a behavior that is out of control and leads to demoralization. If someone has tried to stop doing something multiple times (e.g. smoking, drinking alcohol, playing video games), doesn’t want to continue doing it and yet “finds themselves” doing it again and again…that’s addiction.

So it isn’t addiction until you admit you have a problem? If I were on heroin, cocaine, massive amounts of alcohol, and whatever else you care to mention, I wouldn’t be addicted unless I wanted to stop?

That’s probably the lamest definition for addiction I’ve ever heard, and it completely invalidates the concept of intervention. Addiction isn’t dependant on the desire to stop the action.

Adam, I think you mis-analyzed the statment you bashed. If someone has tried to stop and can’t, they’re addicted. Just becuase they haven’t tried to stop, doesn’t mean they’re not addicted; it simply means that they haven’t been made consciously aware of thier problem. Addictions are irrational, like phobias. That’s what intervention is all about. It’s usually met with denial, the first step toward recovery. If you don’t WANT to stop, it’s likely that you’re afraid you CAN’T stop and so choose to avoid the challenge and pain of stopping by continuing on the path you’re on. Once you get to the acceptance of the fact you have a problem, you can then begin to help yourself become healthy.

Personally, I think teh semantics surrounding the topic of addiction, occludes the real issue. The issue is that someone has a problem and can’t solve it.

Kids who misbahave during all the hours they’re awake don’t have an addiction to misbehave, even if tehy can’t stop the bad behavior, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a problem, and an addressable problem at that. It could be the result of abuse of some sort, of a chemical imbalance, of a fear, materializing in the subconscious of the kid. It could stem from school, or the home. Who the F0Ck knows?! That’s what therapy is for. But without professional help (for the kid or for the parents to help them control and properly raise a kid), the kid will likely continue to misbehave more and more until he gets to the point where he hurts himself of another.

So no, Ignorance is not bliss and does not negate the possibility of addiction. But it does make it easier on the addict to continue to seek fulfillment in unhealthy places.

Time for lunch biatches….

drugs to "cure"????? says:

just keep pointing the finger..

there is a difference between science and medicine. especially social medicine. thats what this is about though isnt it. I totaly agree with tech dirt.

you masters students have proved you Know big words. but you have also proven that you dont understand a damned thing about people.

and next they will be forcing these medicines on gamers like they do prozac on kids. what, dont want to be put on drugs. too bad, its the law. thats a nice ending to the story of medicine. anyone else here seen Equalibrium.

wait thats science fiction…like cell phones and ion propultion. 😛

MWM3 says:

You guys dont know what you are talking about. Anything that can change the way we feel can be addictive. Anything that arouses us in some way can be addictive. I am a recovering heroin addict that has learned about addiction every day for the past two years. I do believe video games can be addictive to certain people. THey do indeed arouse many feelings that do not come often in natural life. And when we learn to release these feelings, this can become addictive.

The depression thing is true. Many people use drugs.alcohol.sex.videogames.gambling to escape reality. Its about using something again and again to escape our problems…

Mr. Brown says:

Addiction...maybe, a problem...no

Hello everyone, my name is Mr. Brown, and I have a computer gaming addiction. I hope the pharmaceutical companies are making an extremely expensive drug that could help me with my hobby, opps, sorry, I mean addiction. I agree with the auther of this article. If someone is addicted to gaming, who’s to say its a problem and should be fixed. My grandmother is addicted to crocheting, but everyone else calls that a hobby. Now a days, some kids could use a release from reality, and gaming may be a method of how they deal with their emotions. Why is this a bad way of dealing with personal emotions, and taking a drug that they say will help you with your “problem”, or talking with a shrink is a better way to deal with your emotions. Personally I enjoy bottling them up inside, and let them explode in a rage on my computer, it’s cheaper than a shrink! I may be biased because I am a gamer, but now that I know I will start sweating and shaking if I quit playing games, I’ll never stop!

Dale says:

Just look at it.

Add me among those psychologists who think the addiction concept applies to some of these. I just saw a guy who is addicted to a popular on-line role-playing game. He knows he is way too involved and he frequently says to himself “I have to stop this.” (Like, I have to stop drinking.) Then he goes through a period where he stays away from it. When not playing, he thinks about it constantly and fights off the desire to get back on the game. Then, for mysterious reasons, he starts up again, often as a result of stress. He seeks help and support to overcome it. He has lost a full college scholarship as a result of spending too much time playing the game. Now, either that’s an addiction, or we have to abandon the whole concept of addiction.

Insydedan says:

Looking at definitions for addiction online I thought that this one summed it up pretty good

Addiction is an uncontrollable compulsion to repeat a behavior regardless of its consequences.

So I guess that you can be addicted to video games given Dale’s example above (assuming it’s true). However I think that cases like this are extremely rare, and probably more people are addicted to TV.

Paul V. (profile) says:

Re: Consequences

More than escaping the consequences of behavior, making a medical/psychological ailment for the newfound syndrome grants the Holy Grail, victimhood, to the “sufferer”.

So the next time someone cuts you off and slams on the brakes in traffic, remember that they may be the victim of Intermittant Explosive Disorder (What an apt acronym) and you must not be judgemental of them.

James says:

Addiction?

Junyo is probably an addict, because the comment sounded like I did when I was using, and thanks for the reminder. Almost six years sober after 33 years of active addiction, I have a thing or two to add here.

Fitst, I didn’t have a drug problem. I had a James problem. 12 step work is ALL ABOUT taking responsibility. Staying away from the substance/activity is called abstinence. In my experience, that was simply a break between bouts of using. Solving the inner problems through honesty and self-examination in stepwork.

That’s why I’m never tempted, and why I never fantasize about using; I killed all the lies that kept me using.

But the best part was doing that same kind of stepwork in a program about relationships. I now have an incredible relationship as a result of that work.

Addiction isn’t the issue. The addictee is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course gaming addictions are psychological, not physical; but physical addictions are dangerous too. I watched my roommate go through all of the signs of addictions to a certain #1 MMORPG, and in one year he went from a poster boy for scholastic success to a college drop-out. I’m not saying that his addiction wasn’t his fault. It was purely his fault, in fact; that doesn’t mean that his addiction was any less life-destroying.

Junyo (user link) says:

Yeah, sure. I guess projection is a valid discussion tactic on the Internet. When the first step of anything is ‘admitting you are powerless’ you effectively absolved yourself of responsibility. But in reality, unless someone is holding you down and pouring the liquor down your throat/inject the drug into your vein/forcing you to play video games at gunpoint, or you have a weird involuntary twitch that forces you to do one of those things, then your are making a conscious choice, a choice to have another drink/do some more drugs/play a game and further, deciding that the consequences of doing so are more desirable/acceptable than the consequences of not. But transforming it to an abstract boogieman a) takes away your responsibility, and b) gives you merit badges for doing what most of the planet does everyday. “I’ve been clean for 6 years…” the audience claps, supportive of his brave resolve; “I always just drank/smoked/gamed in moderation, and never when it might affect others…” well everybody does that. Parse it however you want; addiction is a simple lack of self discipline and control.

Jeremy (user link) says:

Lesson in how to misquote

Hey dorpus. Why would the author need to cite evidence that “addictions are always an “indication of a different problem…”?

The actual full quote is

In many cases, the “addictions” described aren’t really addictions, but an indication of a different problem, such as depression.

I wonder if dorpus could misquote the Bible/Koran and find justification for [fill in the blank]

dorpus says:



Can you explain how you can be addicted to something that doesn’t cause a chemical dependancy? How can you suffer from withdrawl? Have you ever heard of a case where not talking on a cell phone caused someone to convulse from lack of communication? Or how about a kid who’s heart gave out cause he didnt get his gaming fix for a day?

People can be addicted to gambling, sex, reckless driving, or self-injury. Forcing them not to do it could cause violent reactions or heart attacks. Addiction to smoking is thought to be largely behavioral in nature. No simple generalizations can be made about addictive disorders; it is a multifaceted phenomenon, with varying etiologies.

anonymous coward says:

a married buddy of mine was drinking his ass off and banging his secretary. when he wrapped his car around a tree with the secretay inside, his wife found out. he claimed that he was an alcoholic and a sex addict. he even had a therapist to back him up. his idiot wife took him back after a three month separation.

i had a blast banging her for those three months…

Phlatus the Elder says:

Addiction? Nope, obsession.

We’re talking about obsessions, not addictions. “Addiction” blames the behavior on something external and lets the “addict” be a victim. Calling an obsession an addiction is just another example of people shirking responsibility for their own behavior. (“Addiction Consultant” Hmmmm….$ounds like a bu$ine$$ opportunity.)

Phlatus the Elder says:

Re: Re: Addiction? Nope, obsession.

Oh, but I do!

Addicition = Organic (that is, chemical). Think “hardware.”

Obsession = Functional. Think “software.”

I’ll agree that on the individual (and therefore clinical) level , there is no bright line.

However, with regard to the English language and how we use it, calling an obsession an “addiction” makes the descriprion less precise. For crying out loud, “DETOX” for video games? Toxins are, by definition, chemical. Video gaming is a behavior.

As to “more treatment centers,” I think Mike’s initial post made the point that quality is more important than quantity. Perhaps I’m just a skeptic, but to me a purported clinician framing behavior (functional) in terms of chemical intoxication (organic) reaks of quackery.
We, as a society, will get better quality by accurately describing the problem. We will better describe the problem by demanding some accuracy in language.

Bilbo says:

The peopel who wrote this article are bunk. I am a recovering addict and I know a lot about addiction. Its people doing the same thing, expecting different results. its trying to quit something and then going back. Its the mental obsession. If someone is playing video games and cannot stop, despite consequences, they need help. Enough said.

OneShane says:

Can We Start A Detox Center For People Addicted To

I find this atricle quite interesting. Where did the information actually come from? Who in the addiction consultants did you speak with? Which of the clients did you speak with? Where is the “proof positive” of all the information that was contained in the acticle? What I learned in college was that if I made a statement about something, I needed to provide all the information, sources, etc for what I was talking about. So, where’s the information, sources, research, dates, times, locations, so on & so forth? I’m truly interested in hearing about what you have.

MWM3 says:

I think this is a good thing, as stated earlier. And yes I agree with someone. You can’t get physical withdrawals from video games. BUT ADDICTION does not require a physical withdrawl. Look at all the alocholics that drink but never drink CONSTANTLY to get physically hooked. Its the MENTAL OBSESSION. Physical addiction is just a tiny part of addiction.

But I dont think it shoudl be called a video game “detox” center.

dorpus says:

Confounding

In a possibly related development, Japanese schoolkids, who are known to spend more time on video games and cell phones than most other kids, are becoming unruly and overruning classrooms. Kids are talking during class and walking off, resulting in 2 or more weeks of anarchy. According to a report from a Tokyo suburb, a record 112 classrooms in 97 schools had overrun classrooms, while 7% of all classrooms have had the same events occur two years in a row.

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20060609-00000136-mailo-l11

Anonymous Coward says:

addictions require a physical component. people who say they’re addicted to something that has no physical component just lack the discipline and just repeat the action because it gives them pleasure. no one keeps on doing something that doesn’t give them pleasure and at the same time doesn’t have a physically addictive component.

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