Our fast-paced, immediately-accessible lifestyles can present easy distraction from the things that matter most.
For this reason, Willingway doesn’t allow personal electronic devices (PEDs), such as cell phones, laptops, or smart watches, during inpatient rehabilitation.
On your initial journey to sobriety, you’ll experience a number of mental, emotional, and physical changes necessary to break the stranglehold of substance abuse. But, do you know how easy it is to substitute one “substance” for another? This often happens with online activities, including shopping, gambling, cyber-relationships, gaming, pornography, and information gathering.
It’s Possible to Be Addicted to Electronics
Mental Health America (MHA) reports that co-occurring conditions such as alcohol and drug problems, depression, sleep disorders, anxiety, ADHD, and dissociative experiences are often tied to internet compulsivity. Additional conditions present in teenagers, including phobias, aggression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia. At this time, researchers can’t determine if excessive online use is linked to impulse control disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
MHA provides this checklist to determine if you might think there’s a problem with online compulsivity. Here are just a few things to consider:
- When I feel anxious, sad, or lonely, being online helps improve my mood or not think about my problems.
- It’s easy for me to get depressed or irritated if I can’t get online or have to reduce the time I spend online.
- When I’m online, I frequently lose track of time.
- I need to be on for longer periods of time in order to feel satisfied.
- I’ve had unsuccessful attempts reducing or controlling my internet usage.
- My use of the internet has compromised a relationship, my school work, a job, or other daily responsibilities.
- I’ve lied to people I’m close to about my internet habits, including certain activities I participate in while online.
Also known as internet addiction disorder, the brain experiences a similar chemical reaction—a sharp increase in dopamine, which stimulates the pleasure center—to substance use whenever we interact online or pursue information and receive a response. So, for anyone seeking treatment, PEDs that provide access to social media, texting, blogging, and other online activities prevent the critical attention necessary for wellness. It’s imperative for an individual to have the ability for private introspection, engaging one-on-one therapeutic conversations, and explorative group discussion.
The False Reality of Technology
We think of constant connectivity as a necessary aspect of modern life. This is why many people entering drug or alcohol rehabilitation for the first time have difficulty leaving devices behind. Yet, it’s a common stipulation in many facilities.
It’s amazing what we can do with PEDs. But when they’re used to distract or disassociate with reality, it becomes a problem. Worldwide, approximately two billion people have smartphones. This doesn’t necessarily mean we’re closer to one another.
In fact, preeminent researchers such as Sherry Turkle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology note that after 30 years of studying the internet, we seem more detached than ever before. In her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, she says, “Connectivity becomes a craving. Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities. And as it turns out, we are very vulnerable indeed. We are lonely, but fearful of intimacy.”
Another one of Turkle’s observations: “Digital connections and the sociable robot may offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. Our networked life allows us to hide from each other, even as we are tethered to each other. We’d rather text than talk.”
So, while we can use our devices to have an online chat with someone halfway across the world, we also often sit across the dinner table with friends and families venturing down whatever rabbit hole our PEDs opened, rather than look into the eyes of the people around us. This extends the idea of a false reality: a common problem for people dealing with drug or alcohol abuse.
The fear of being without PEDs now has a name: nomophobia. Researchers define it as experiencing feelings of anxiety or distress when we’re without our devices, and the level of dependency we have on them for basic needs. To learn if this applies to you, CNN offers a quiz, more expansive than the one above, which outlines some of the key factors of technology addiction.
Detaching from the Blue Light
Lack of proper rest is a common problem for millions of Americans. Approximately 50–to–70 million adults experience sleep disorders in the form of insomnia, circadian rhythm disruptions, parasomnias, and sleep deprivation.
Up to 70 percent of people in recovery have insomnia. During the treatment process, when every aspect of your being is being recalibrated, it takes a while to regain normal sleep habits.
Light from PEDs doesn’t help. Scientific American reports that device light emittance is “short-wavelength-enriched.” This means it has “a higher concentration of blue light than natural light.” Blue light is the most concentrated disrupter of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. This causes problems with falling asleep, waking up refreshed, and having complete REM sleep—which affects our moods, memories, and learning abilities.
It’s hard enough to put down devices during our waking hours. But to fall asleep to them makes it more difficult to develop what’s called good sleep hygiene. And without proper rest, our minds and bodies suffer in a variety of ways, including increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, digestive trouble, and weight gain.
Willingway’s Dedication to Your Wellness
Our 11-acre wooded campus is designed to offer you clarity and peace. In the beginning, it may seem uncomfortable to leave your devices behind for a while. Yet after a couple of weeks, you’ll come to appreciate the serene comfort of your surroundings, without distractions, and gain a better understanding of self and your purpose in life. Review our admissions guidelines to know what to bring and what not to bring prior to your stay.