Tools of Media Addicts Anonymous International
Many of us have found that we cannot abstain from compulsive media usage, unless we work
the following tools of recovery.
Tool 1 — Meetings
Media addiction is a disease of isolation. We have found we cannot recover alone. Therefore, we attend MAA meetings to learn the truth about our addiction, to find a way out, and to connect regularly with other recovering members. Meetings are a place we find support and strength to face our addiction head-on. It is suggested that newcomers attend 90 meetings in 90 days to jump start their recovery.
Tool 2 — Sponsorship
A Sponsor is a media-sober member of MAA who has taken all Twelve Steps and is living the Steps and Traditions to the best of their ability. We ask a sponsor to guide us through the Steps of Recovery and to help us create a media sobriety plan. By sharing their experience, strength and hope, sponsors continually renew and reaffirm their own sobriety. Sponsors share their program up to the level of their own experience.
Tool 3: Media Awareness and Trigger Identification
We work closely with our sponsor to discover what behaviors trigger the “phenomenon of craving," the things that cause us to be out of control and compulsively use electronic media. We then work the Twelve Steps and tools of the MAA program to abstain from such behaviors and activities.
Tool 4: Media Fasting
Our compulsive behaviors are unconscious. Sometimes it's helpful to fast from media for a period of time to find clarity and break the cycle of compulsion. We recommend fasting from our devices and any media that is not necessary to our businesses, recovery, or family needs for at least one week. Many of us have found longer fasts to be even more beneficial. By fasting from media, a few things happen: 1) We begin to see our compulsion more clearly; 2) we start to break the cycle; 3) we begin to connect to ourselves and others in deeper and healthier ways; 4) we stop looking for relief and nourishment from media and instead find these things in our Higher Power and in the vitality of life.
Tool 5: Media Sobriety Plan
A “Media Sobriety Plan” helps us to abstain from the compulsive use of media. A personal plan for all media usage guides us in our media decisions, as well as defines what, when, how, where, and why we use our devices. We identify the kinds of media that trigger the compulsion to become out of control with media. This media is then considered our "alcoholic" media and becomes a part of our bottom-line. With the help of a sponsor, each member develops their own plan based on an honest appraisal of their compulsive media usage. We continue to re-evaluate our plans to keep ourselves accountable so we don’t rationalize “acting out” and feed the addiction.
Tool 6: Media Replacement Plan
Because many of us use media as our main source of relaxation, reward, and recreation, we need to find other activities that bring us joy and fulfillment. When we stop compulsively using media, there will be a void. It will be difficult to obtain long-term sobriety if we don't have a plan to fill that void. Therefore, a "Media Replacement Plan" is an important system to create as soon as possible so that we will have enjoyable and healthy activities to replace media. Here are some examples:
A. Fun, Pleasure, and Relaxation
We write lists of things we love to do for fun, relaxation, and pleasure and post it where we can see it. We share this plan with our sponsor or media sobriety action partner and use these activities daily in place of our electronic media.
B. Connection and Play
We schedule time in our week for play and community. We have often used electronic media as a substitute for true recreation and human connection. We become willing to learn how to play and have more fulfilling relationships with others. When we are with others, we turn off our electronic media and focus on our loved ones.
C. Brain Health Awareness
We exercise our mind in healthy ways whether through study, moderate reading, journaling, or meaningful conversations. We read things that require thought and effort. We may also take classes or workshops to expand our interests and knowledge. We find ways to keep our minds sharp by memorizing phone numbers, poems, etc.—things we used to do before smart phones.
We take time to nourish our own creativity. This may include participating in artistic endeavors such as writing, visual arts, music, theater, dance, singing, etc., or we may direct that creative process toward whatever endeavors fulfill us.
Tool 7: Media Withdrawal Plan
Media is a mind altering and mood altering drug. As with any drug there will be withdrawal and detoxification. Withdrawal comes in many forms, such as moodiness, anxiety, lack of sleep, boredom, agitation, etc. Withdrawal from media addiction is easier when you have a plan and when you have sustained support. Therefore we suggest the following actions:
a) Sobriety Action Partner: Have a media sobriety action partner you can call on a daily basis.
b) Ask for Help: If we are craving our media, we first ask our Higher Power to remove the desire and then we call our sponsor or another MAA member.
c) Out-reach calls: make 2-3 out reach calls to other media addicts a day.
d) Help someone else: when you feeling down, reach out to someone you can help.
e) Track your urges: As we abstain from "alcoholic media" we track our urges to uncover the unconscious aspects of our compulsions. We notice what we are thinking and doing when we have the urge to use our media. In this way, we expose our disease and start to see what makes us vulnerable to using media compulsively.
f) Surf the Urge: Urge surfing is feeling the urge but not acting on it; noticing your urges and simply watching them rise and fall like waves, relaxing, while not responding. Urges usually peak between 20 – 30 minutes. If we can ride out the wave, it will pass. We have found that every time we surf the urge without acting on it, we get better and better at urge surfing. Urges will show up less over time, and they also become weaker.
Tool 8: Daily Body Care Awareness and Adequate Sleep
Media distracts us from taking care of and connecting with our bodies. Our ability to get sober and stay sober from media depends on a good night's sleep. Therefore, we suggest setting a media curfew for ourselves and a regular bedtime. We try to keep electronic media out of the bedroom. During the day we stay connected to our bodies, feeding them nourishing food and getting proper exercise and fresh air. We learn to be fully present in our bodies and take time to ground ourselves in the natural world by getting out into nature without our media. We feed all of our senses, allowing ourselves to experience more beauty and pleasure in our lives. When appropriate, we utilize health care and healing providers.
Tool 9: Meditation
We regularly take time to meditate, to feed our spirits in ways that electronic media never could. We find what works for us, whether it is a sitting meditation while noticing our breath, staring at a candle flame, contemplating spiritual material, chanting a mantra, or even walking mindfully in nature. Meditation helps us connect to a Power greater than ourselves which then trains our mind to turn to this Power rather than seek relief through electronic media.
Tool 10: Literature
Media addiction is a disease of denial and defiance. In order to recover we must understand our disease and what the solution is. We read the Big Book of Alcoholics anonymous and other 12 Step literature to reinforce our understanding of addiction and how to recover.
Tool 11: Writing
Daily writing about our addiction helps us see our disease clearly. Writing has also been an indispensable tool for working through our emotions. By putting our thoughts and feelings down on paper, we can better understand our actions and reactions in a way that is often not revealed to us by simply thinking or talking about them. In the past, compulsive use of our electronic media was our most common reaction to life and a way to procrastinate going forward with our goals and visions. When we put our difficulties down on paper, it becomes easier to see the situation more clearly and better discern any necessary actions.
Tool 12: Service
Carrying the message to the media addict who still suffers is the basic purpose of our Fellowship. Any form of service, no matter how small, which helps reach a fellow sufferer adds to the quality of our own recovery. Leading a meeting, sponsoring others, reaching out to others in any way we can allows us to give back what we have so generously been given. We are encouraged to do what we can when we can. "A life of sane and happy usefulness" is what we are promised as the result of working the Twelve Steps. Service helps to fulfill that promise.