Video Game Addiction

In today’s modern home a personal computer (PC) is the central hub for much of our communication and entertainment. As more and more day to day activity becomes linked to the PC most households own at least one of them. But a PC is not only a tool for communication and learning, it can also be used to play video games, and many of them can be accessed for free through the internet.

5e9fd9d21b1b12e59a1d749917785923Gaming addiction is becoming a serious problem in the younger generations. We are seeing a huge rise in the amount of teens and young adults that are addicted to video games, more so PC than gaming consoles (i.e. Xbox, Playstation, etc.). This largely has to do with how accessible PCs are compared to consoles which are relatively more expensive. Games like World of Warcraft and League of Legends attract millions from around the world on a daily basis, offering them adventure and excitement that they might not otherwise feel they can get. The community base of these games is huge, connecting people from every corner of the globe. But there are many players that become more concerned with in-game interactions than what is going on in their everyday life.

Gaming addiction is characterized by the following:

  • Preoccupation with the game (thinking about the game even when not playing or planning when you can get back to playing sooner)
  • Withdrawal symptoms like irritability or mood swings when unable to play or attempting to cut down
  • The need to play for more time or play more exciting games to get the same amount of excitement
  • Feeling like you need to cut back but you are unable to
  • Spending less (or no time) doing things other than gaming
  • Continuing playing despite lack of sleep, being late to work/school, spending more money than you should, and neglecting other responsibilities
  • Lying to friends and family about just how much you play
  • Losing important opportunities in relationships and career because you would rather game
  • Using gaming as an escape from negative feelings

Gaming addiction has been getting increased attention from professionals as more and more people are being drawn in. In the last 10 years, significant advances have been made in just how much we know about gaming addiction. It has come to light just how serious this problem is, especially in adolescents and young adults. It is estimated that between the ages of 12-18, many children are getting up to 7 hours a day of “screen time”. 

This means that the majority of time that these children are not asleep or at school, they are on their computer. Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft are huge part of this problem. These games require time commitments to learn and iStock_000004161479Small2-300x225participate in, drawing people in with new tasks and rewards. There are extremely tragic cases of addiction to these games, causing deaths after marathon gaming sessions and causing the addicted to act out in ways that they might not have normally. There are too many cases where a young person’s life is destroyed because of their gaming addiction.

Too much of something tends to be a dangerous thing. If an alcoholic drinks too much at once, they can suffer from alcohol poisoning. If a drug addict uses too much, they can overdose. No matter what you do, if you place too much stress on your body you will injure it, and if go too far you can die. So it should come as no surprise that playing games too much can have serious consequences.

Deaths related to game addiction have mostly occurred after/during a marathon gaming session. These sessions last more than just hours, they can last for days. Many players go without food, sleep, or movement other than their hands and fingers during these sessions, and continuously putting their bodies through these sessions has serious repercussions on their health. Commonly we sleep disorders, malnutrition, and a complete lack of physical activity in those that are addicted to video games. Just as alcohol or drugs can destroy a person’s body, not fulfilling your body’s basic needs can as well. Let’s take a look at a few of the deaths that are related to gaming addiction.

  • Wang Gang of China collapsed and died after obsessively playing Dungeon Fighter in an internet café. Wang had been living in the internet café for months, having dropped out of college and cut his family out of his life. It was said that Wang would take very few breaks, consisting of a few hours of sleep each time. Due to his gaming habits, Wang became extremely thin and malnourished, possibility contributing to his death.
  • League of Legends claimed the life of Chen Rong-yu, a gamer that spent a continuous 23 hours playing.  It was concluded that his heart attack was caused by a combination of lack of movement, fatigue, and cold weather.
  • A 40 hour session of Diablo III is what claimed the life of Chuang, and 18 year old Taiwanese man. Chuang was left to play in a private internet café room for 40 hours, without food or drink on hand. He was woken by a staff member that found him resting in the morning of his last day. Chuang collapsed, dying shortly after arriving at the hospital. It is suspected that he died of a blood clot.

In addition to the health problems, we also see a large impact on the social interactions in the lives of those affected by gaming addiction. Those with gaming addictions tend to withdraw into the gaming community, choosing to develop their online relationships and ignore their real life relationships. It is fair to say that they are still participating in some form of social interaction, but at what cost? Isolation seems to be the key factor in the development of this addiction, despite their interactions with other players online. The fact of the matter is that many people play with others that they have never met face to face, and they may never meet them face to face. This is a resulting in a breakdown of what we might consider to be a more traditional friendship. The issue with this is that spending extended periods of time in front of the computer is not healthy, no matter how old or young you are. If you don’t have any outside relationships to participate in, you are more likely to spend that extra time in front of your computer.

As with any addiction, recovery needs to be the choice of the addicted. Scare tactics aren’t often enough to help them realize what a big impact their gaming is having on their lives. So what can you do to support your loved one through their addiction?

gameaddictionFirst and foremost, let them know that you are there when they need you. Keeping lines of communication open between you and your loved one is so important. It may be the real world connection that they need to pull them outside of the game.

Secondly, ask them to take a serious look about the impact their addiction is having on their life. Be honest with them about how you feel and let them know that you care about their well-being.

Finally, support them in seeking help. Be encouraging and hopeful, especially when it is hardest for them to feel that way themselves. It is much easier for a person to relapse if they feel that they do not have a strong support system. Make sure you know the signs to look for when they may be at risk of relapse, and let them know that you will be there throughout the struggle.

Gaming addiction has the power to take the life out of the person that you love, but it doesn’t have to. Recovery is a choice, as is falling further into addiction. Hope, love, faith, and encouragement are central to a successful recovery, and they are something that you can provide to your loved one. It is also important to know the nature of the addiction that they are dealing with. Education around gaming addiction will give you a better picture of just how serious this problem can be, and it will lead you to the tools that may help your loved one in their recovery.

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Social Media

So many of us are attached to our social media accounts. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram, many people are either checking or posting throughout the day. Photos, milestones, and our thoughts are the marks we leave on social media, but what kind of mark does it leave on us?facebook-addiction-590x202

Social media has a huge impact on many of our everyday interactions. Nowadays, it is hard to find someone who doesn’t engage with their friends and loved ones via some form of social media. It has become the go-to forum for expressing opinions, and sharing our lives with those around us. What we share sends a message to the world about who we are and what we are all about, defining us through our posts. This is why it is so important to be careful about what you share and who you share it with. It is helpful to take a second and think before posting. What would a future employer say about what he/she sees on your Facebook? What would a future partner say about you tweets? We don’t always consider the consequences of our actions on the internet, but it is much more important than it might initially seem.

Too often we see breakups and drama brought to the forefront of forums like Facebook and Twitter. Hurtful messages spewed out for the entire world to see. The unfortunate part is that often times the things that are being said would have never been said if it was a face-to-face conversation. It is hard for people to hold back from behind the keyboard, and it makes many people forget that there is a real person on the other iStock_000016401115XSmallend. There have been so many cases of destroyed relationships because of what has been said online, and much of it could have been prevented.

And what about the younger generations? They are growing up with social media as a central part of their lives. What impact is this going to have on the way that they interact with their peers? We are seeing younger and younger children logging onto places like Facebook, choosing to spend their time socializing with their friends via the internet rather than face-to-face. This also opens up the field to bullies and tormentors alike. Adolescence is such a trying time for any child, and it can be made harder by social media. We hear more and more about adolescents viciously attacking each other on social media, spreading rumours and hateful comments. Educating the younger generations about responsibly using social media is a great way to work on issues like bullying.

Facebook addictionSocial media is a very useful tool when used properly. It is great for networking and keeping in touch with those that may not be as close to us. But it is also a very powerful tool. It can make or break us in many important situations. We need to think about being respectful and sharing appropriately. It takes not more than a few moments to consider how our words could hurt someone on the other side. Remembering to treat those around us with love, respect and understanding, is an easy way to make social media more enjoyable for everyone.  

Psychopathy and Relationships

shutterstock_119478667  We strive for internal balance each and every day. It is a constant struggle to maintain some sort of harmony between our beliefs, ideas, values, and the behaviours related to them. An example of this is someone who continues to smoke despite believing that it is unhealthy. Although they hold the belief that smoking is not beneficial to their health, the smoker will continue to smoke because they may enjoy smoking, or perhaps because they believe that the chances of a decline in their health are not as serious as others make them up to be. This is cognitive dissonance. Explained simply, cognitive dissonance is psychological distress when two or more beliefs are contradictory. Those with cognitive dissonance often have a hard time differentiating reality from their internal fantasy and dream world. They will often justify their behaviours and contradicting beliefs with truly ridiculous notions. Returning to the example of the smoker, how is it possible that their health would not be at equal risk to other smokers? It is this fantasy thinking that makes the contradictions stick. The discrepancy in beliefs and actions can cause a vast amount of psychological distress, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, and negative self-image. With these contradictions comes a certain amount of denial within, though it is not always known to us. This denial allows us to hold these beliefs at the same time, while still maintaining the behaviour.

A more extreme example of cognitive dissonance is the denial shutterstock_90072907and beliefs that are often seen with those who are in a relationship with a psychopath. Once we become aware we begin to see things for what they are, outside of the fantasy.  A whole slew of inconsistencies that we never saw before flows through to our consciousness such as manipulations, criticism, emotional abuse, lies, and deviance. Almost everyone involved with a psychopath goes through a phase (and form) of denial.  The result is a contradictory experience: a kind of internal battle between clinging to denial and accepting the truth.  It’s a tough reality to accept the sad truth when you come to realize that the person who claimed to be your best friend or the love of your life is actually completely emotionally unavailable on all levels.

To understand pathology, psychopathic and sociopathic relationships see the link below. Now it is important to not assume that the person you are involved with is a psychopath, because it can have deep and lasting effects on that person. A qualified professional should be sought out to make a diagnosis, not the internet or a personal diagnosis. The questions that often come up after a psychopath shutterstock_40397620is found out often include “How could I not have known?”, “Were there ever signs that something was going on beneath the surface?”, or even “Was there something that could have been done to help/stop the psychopath?”. The answer to these questions is never truly black and white, and this is because of cognitive dissonance. There comes a time when denial is just no longer going to protect us from the truth, and there is an internal struggle because they care deeply for the psychopath. There are contradictions left, right, and center about their lies, manipulations, criticisms, and emotional abuse, and the victim will often times find ways to justify the psychopaths behaviours through the “good times” they might have had. It needs to be noted that more often than not, the victim will choose to cling to the denial, rather than accept the truth.

What can happen when the victim is suddenly brought to the realization that their significant other is a psychopath? More often than not, they will go into shock or experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In these cases it is so important that they seek help, because the symptoms will persist and worsen until they are handled under the care of a trained professional. The therapist or counsellor will work to empower the victim, working on reminding them that they are not a victim but a survivor. Cognitive dissonance is something that can be overcome, but it is not just a simple step process. The contradicting beliefs need to be consciously acknowledged, breaking the cycle to return to reality instead of fantasy. With the help of an experienced therapist it is possible to create an action plan and set goals for the future. Recovery will take a lot of inner work and acknowledgement of the contradictions. Once the acknowledgement happens, we can begin to work towards feeding the healthy beliefs and behaviours, rather than the more negative ones. It is important to focus on the more supportive beliefs, rather than the dissonant belief and behaviour, reducing its importance. When the importance is reduced, it will be easier to change this belief into one that is more consistent with your other beliefs. The journey for balance in the connection of mind-body-soul is one that is life-long and challenging. It is important to note that change does not happen overnight. Changing beliefs and working towards an internal harmony is something that can take months, and possibly even years. This does not mean that we should not still strive for inner peace. Having a good support system and being committed to change will keep you motivated, as well as promote change.

http://psychopathyawareness.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/psychopaths-as-lovers/

How Will A Sexually Transmitted Disease Effect You?

images-4Sexual relationships are tricky, no matter what your situation. It can be a delicate balancing act of physical attraction and emotional interest in your partner. But what if your partner has a sexually transmitted disease? Would you still sleep with them? Would you be concerned about becoming infected yourself? How does it change the dynamic of your sexual relationship with this person? Having an active sex life while having a sexually transmitted disease can be a hot button issue between sexual partners, but how should it be handled?

Having an STD can drastically change your sex life. There is a large amount of shame that comes from having a sexually transmitted disease. Shame in the fact you have a disease and shame that you could pass it on to others and drastically change their lives. Society puts a label on those that have an STD, one that defines them as unclean, promiscuous, unprepared, and undesirable. The truth of the matter is that some people contract STDs from those that they love and trust. Yes, your chances for contracting an STD go up with the number of partners you have, but there are many people who have slept with very few people and contracted an STD from a long term partner. The tried and true “don’t judge a book by its cover”, applies here just as it does to other situations. It may be disheartening to many people that you have something you could pass on to them. The risk for transmission can be very high for diseases, even higher when you engage in unprotected sex. Unsuspecting partners are much less likely to protect themselves, than those who know they are sleeping with someone who has an STD. It is extremely difficult to tell someone that you are interested in that you have a disease of this nature, but there are responsibilities on both sides of the table.images-2 (1)

For the person that is living with the disease, responsibility is important. Owning up to the fact that you are infected is so important. You have a responsibility to inform your partners and make sure that you are doing everything you can to protect them as well as yourself from contracting further infections and diseases. You are not your disease. It is important to remember that you have value and can contribute more than just sexually. You will be rejected by some people, and others will have questions. It is important that you prepare yourself for these situations by owning your disease and having responsible practices when it comes to sex.

For the person that is considering sleeping with someone with a sexually transmitted disease, it is important to remember that it is completely your choice. It is your choice to engage or not engage in sexual activity with someone who has a sexually transmitted disease, but you need to know the facts. The best way to protect yourself is to be informed. Know what you are getting into 110%. The internet may be a good resource but a medical professional is the best. Talking to someone first hand will allow you to ask the important questions. And don’t be afraid to ask your potential partner the questions that you have.

images (1)So where can you get support and information about sexually transmitted diseases? One place to start is your GP, gynecologist, or medical doctor. They will be able to provide you with the information that you will need or at least point you in the right direction of that information. There are also resources in the community that can assist you with your sexual health. In Toronto, there is the Bay Centre for Birth Control. It is centered around women’s health and can help you with examinations, information, counselling, and referrals. (Links provided below)

Having a sexually transmitted disease does not have to stop your sex life. As long as you are responsible and respectful, there are many options for those wishing to have intercourse with someone who is/isn’t infected. There are many couples that have successful and fulfilling relationships when one or both partners is infected. It is important to remain hopeful and look towards total wellness; mind, body, and spirit.

Links:

http://www.womenscollegehospital.ca/programs-and-services/family-planning-fertility-care-sexual-health/bay-centre-for-birth-control460/

http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=30865e67bbee0410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextfmt=default

Drug Abuse in Affluent Teens

Money can do very strange things to people. It can cause some to completely lose their sense of self, which in turn causes them to seek out a new sense of self. Often times with kids and teens that are raised in a wealthy environment this can be the case because they are looking for a sense of purpose. They struggle to make an identity for themselves, separate from their family name. Their parents are often high achievers, Unknown (1)choosing to work and earn rather than spend time with their families. Being a high achiever comes with high standards, standards that teenagers may often fail to meet. These expectations can be overwhelming for a child. Children in wealthy families also often have a lot more spare time on their hands than other children would. Often times they lack responsibilities such as chores and jobs, leaving them with unstructured and unfilled time. So what do these children and teens choose to fill their time with? Well they often have the means to participate in anything that they would like to, but there are some that will choose to do something extreme to make an identity of their own. This is where experimentation and the abuse of substances comes in.

Prescription medications, illicit substances, and alcohol are more readily available to more affluent teenagers. Whether they are purchasing from peers, or taking them from home, wealthier teenagers seem to have access to a wider variety of substances early on and the means to acquire anything they might have in mind. It is pretty much a given that there will be substances present at a high school party, and it should come as no images-3 (1)surprise that there is a large variety to choose from. More and more teenagers are choosing to experiment during parties with their friends, and it is a breeding ground for future addiction and substance abuse. Often trying these drugs once is more than enough to get hooked, and the consequences aren’t always the first thought with teens and peer pressure.

One question that often can come about is how is it possible for kids to get a hold of these substances? Often the home medicine cabinet is more than enough. Coupled with an accessible liquor cabinet, the home can be just as diverse in the types of things kids are trying to get their hands on. This begs the question, what can be done about preventing overdose and addiction?

Well the first step is education about the consequences of using drugs. Now this isn’t exclusive to educating about illicit substances like cocaine and heroin, but also the dangers of using alcohol, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications imagesas well as marijuana. Often times parents will use scare tactics in an attempt to discourage their children from using drugs, but this doesn’t work. Just the facts are often enough. This education needs to be paired with encouragement to make good choices and an understanding that there is an open line of communication at all times. Structure is also very important for teens. It is important that they learn responsibility and earning what they have. Teaching teenagers these values early on is a great way to set them up to be a contributing adult.  Having dinner as a family can be the most crucial time you have with your kids and teens in educating them, creating communication, spending time with them and bonding with them daily. images-1 (1)

Adolescence is a crucial period in a child’s life. Their bodies, minds, and spirits are changing at a rapid rate, and with these changes comes big responsibility. It is so important that children and teens are educated about drugs and alcohol in order to make informed decisions. Mistakes will be made, boundaries will be pushed, but the important things is that the teens stay safe, happy and healthy.

Conquering Fears in Relationships

shutterstock_105933593  Fear. It can take over your thoughts, and in turn you can build up so many walls and blocks that you end up feeling alone and misunderstood. So many of us long for a meaningful relationship to another person, but it is fear that gets in the way. Fear of rejection, fear of judgement, fear of abandonment and fear of trust are just a few of the many fears that we must overcome in order to gain a meaningful relationship.

Fear of rejection is all about self-confidence and self esteem. It stops us from chasing after our dreams because we do not want to be turned down or fall. Every no we receive brings us closer to the door with the possibility of a yes, that is why it is so important to work through your fear of rejection and learn to cope rather than avoid.

shutterstock_123809797Fear of judgement stems from not having fully accepted ourselves. We are our own harshest critics. Full self-love and acceptance can change that, although we can never be 100% of anything 100% of the time. It does not mean that everyone thinks the way you do about yourself. People’s judgements on others have very little to do with the person being judged. It has much more to do with the person doing the judging. Their own insecurities come out against others. People will judge no matter what situation you are in, but it should matter not what they think, but what you think about yourself.

A fear of abandonment is within all of us, but the severity is based solely on our personal experiences in the past. With some it is much closer to the surface. A fear of abandonment can manifest in several different ways, the most apparent of which is the need to be clingy and demanding. Another way people cope with the fear of abandonment is rejecting their partner before they themselves are rejected, running away from relationships before they have reached their full potential. And finally, there are those who will change their whole entire person to become the “perfect” partner for the person that they are interested in. These coping skills are poor and maladaptive, which can cause train-wreck relationships to become normal. This is where being able to develop trust in your partner is so important.shutterstock_107413730

The fear of trust is a big deal in relationships, romantic or otherwise. It is a pretty common occurrence. We have all been hurt by someone we trusted, someone who decided that what they wanted was more important than our trust. But we have to keep in mind that we cannot punish everyone else for that person’s mistakes, especially when seeking out new relationships. It is perfectly normal to have a period of trust building and cautiousness in the beginning of a relationship. However, at some point we have to decide whether or not we can trust the other person. Trust is the foundation of every good relationship, and without it, you don’t really have a relationship at all.

But how do we overcome these fears? Well, it is a daily struggle. It takes a lot of reflection and deep inner work to break through these defenses. We have not only the outside opinions to combat with, but the internal ones as well. Our brain is pretty good at talking us out of things, but sometimes we just have to ignore it and take a leap of faith. Relationships, especially romantic ones, carry a lot of risk which is reasonable to be unsure of. But if we are unwilling to accept that risk, we may just lose out on having someone wonderful in our lives.

I Come First: Healthy Boundaries and Avoiding Burn Out

Expectations are a part of everyday life. We have expectations of others and them of us. There are times where there is so much pressure and so much to do, that it may feel like we are running in circles trying to get things done. The constant bombardment with new tasks and added responsibilities can weigh us down. If we are constantly putting ourselves behind others, we get burnt out. There is this constant drained feeling that just overtakes our emotions and our bodies.

shutterstock_62127079  So why do we feel the need to make everyone else happy? The biggest reason may be fear; fear of rejection, fear of being judged, and even fear of being alone. These fears can cause us to do crazy and unreasonable things for those around us, while we need to be thinking of ourselves as well. Finding a healthy balance in between what we need to do for others and what we need to do for ourselves can be a daily struggle. How can you find the balance between yourself and others?

Maintain healthy boundaries. Know when to say no and let others know what you are willing to do. There is no reason for you to be bending over backwards to make everyone happy all of the time. There should be boundaries for the amount of responsibility that other people can put onto you and you onto them. It is important to shutterstock_89030563know that saying no to things is okay.

Take time out for yourself daily. Turn off your phone, stay away from the computer, and just disconnect. Having time by yourself is one of the most important parts of the day. It is a time to reflect and heal and replenish your energy. It can be 15 minutes, or it can be 3 hours. But it is important to have that bit of time alone with yourself each and every day.

Ask for help. If you are feeling too overwhelmed, ask for help. If nothing else, talk to someone about how you are feeling and what you are taking on. Just getting it out can make a world of difference.

shutterstock_80333077Communicate your feelings to those around you. If you are feeling burnt out and under too much pressure, let those around you know. Communication is vital to every relationship and letting others know what you are feeling can open up doors to solutions you may not have thought possible. Just shutting yourself off from the world will not relieve any pressure, but it will create more problems for you in the long run.

There are times when we all feel overwhelmed and burnt out. However, it is how you handle these times that says the most about you. Take charge, find ways to feel empowered, and take care of yourself. At the end of the day, life is much too short to spend it being anything but happy.