Medical Professionals Weigh in on Electronic Media Addiction
Media addiction or "internet disorders" have been researched now for many years. What medical professionals are finding is that media addiction is similar to alcoholism. Let's read what one modern professional has found in her research into compulsive media usage. The following is an excerpt from an article written by Christina Gregory, PhD (https://www.psycom.net/iadcriteria.html) on the signs and symptoms of internet disorders.
"Some evidence suggests that if you are suffering from [media addiction], your brain makeup is similar to those [who] suffer from a chemical dependency, such as drugs or alcohol. Interestingly, some studies link [media addiction] to physically changing the brain structure – specifically affecting the amount of gray and white matter in regions of the prefrontal brain. This area of the brain is associated with remembering details, attention, planning, and prioritizing tasks. …One of the causes of [media addiction] is structural changes to the prefrontal region of the brain… rendering you unable to prioritize your life, i.e., the Internet takes precedence to necessary life tasks."
"[Media addiction], in addition to other dependency disorders, seem[s] to affect the pleasure center of the brain. The addictive behavior triggers a release of dopamine to promote the pleasurable experience activating the release of this chemical. Over time, more and more of the activity is needed to induce the same pleasurable response, creating a dependency. [For instance] if you find online gaming or online shopping a pleasurable activity and you suffer from an addiction to the Internet, you will need to engage in more and more of the behavior to institute the same pleasurable feeling prior to your dependency."
What we learn from this article by Dr. Gregory is that a media addict's brain is similar to that of an alcoholic. We see that media changes the structure of the brain. That this structural change makes it so that we can't prioritize and manage our lives well. Like alcohol, there is also a physical component to media addiction: a release of dopamine that creates a pleasurable state in the media addict's body which then triggers a compulsion for more and more media to gain the same initial dopamine hit.
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The Twelve Principles of AA
Bill W. considered each step to be a spiritual principle in and of itself. However, particularly in the 12 & 12, he outlined the spiritual principles behind each step. Some of them seem like common sense, but understand going into the exercise that reading these principles and actually practicing them in your day-to-day lives are two entirely different things (and that the latter requires vigilance and willingness).
HONESTY – Fairness and straight forwardness of conduct: adherence to the facts.
HOPE – To expect with desire; something on which hopes are centered.
FAITH – Complete confidence; belief and trust.
COURAGE – Firmness of mind and will in the face of extreme difficulty; mental or moral strength to withstand fear.
INTEGRITY – The quality or state of being complete or undivided; soundness.
WILLINGNESS – Prompt to act or respond; accepted and done of choice or without reluctance.
HUMILITY – Not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive; a clear and concise understanding of what we are, followed by a sincere desire to become what we can be.
LOVE – Unselfish concern that freely accepts another in loyalty and seeks his good to hold dear.
DISCIPLINE – Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character; to bring under control; to train or develop by instruction.
PATIENCE/PERSEVERANCE – Steadfast despite opposition or adversity; able or willing to bear; to persist in an understanding in spite of counter influences.
AWARENESS – Alive and alert; vigilance in observing.
SERVICE – A helpful act; contribution to the welfare of others; useful labor that does not produce a tangible commodity.