How Social Media Addiction Can Become Even More Toxic During A Pandemic

At Maui Recovery we understand first-hand the struggle and battles that can come from social media addiction. With nearly everything at the touch of our fingertips, technology and social media have become…

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At Maui Recovery we understand first-hand the struggle and battles that can come from social media addiction. With nearly everything at the touch of our fingertips, technology and social media have become a popular source for needs, wants, and information. With the click of a button or tap on your screen, you can access, purchase, pay for, or find just about anything. From online banking, gaming, dating, to plain old just browsing through pictures it is no wonder we lose track of time. What may start as “I’m just going to check my email really quick” can lead to hours of time lost in social media rabbit holes. In this blog particularly, we will be discussing how the current Coronavirus pandemic may be reaching new levels of panic, never seen before. And how social media addiction may be partly able to explain why.

Social Media Addiction And Those Mostly Affected

Although social media addiction may seem like no big deal to some, it has become devastating for others. Kids and teens to name, are especially at risk. San Diego State University has found shocking evidence about screen addiction particularly. According to a study from Dr. Jean M. Twenge, teens are 74 percent more likely to have trouble sleeping and twice as likely to see a professional for mental health issues than their 1980s counterparts. This is strong evidence that we may be facing new generations of health issues and problems like we have never experienced before. Maui Recovery is doing their part in understanding how social media addiction is affecting people of all ages today.

In comparison to past times in our civilization when a disease epidemic occurred, today seems more severe as we face a pandemic coupled with mass media coverage. Technology has proven to be a gift in many ways; such as information availability and advances in medicine. Although, in some ways it has also hindered our own judgement, instincts, and ways of personal communication. For example, perhaps before the time of cell phones we would talk more openly and proactively with strangers. News and community meetings were a source of main updates on information, rather than constant updates from many various sources online. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and many more, some of us look to celebrity views and strangers for a base of opinion. Reconnecting with the world around us, and the people in our daily lives, may be key to reducing a social media addiction.

What Is Social Media Addiction?

So, what is social media addiction and how can we possibly classify it? Scrolling through and checking social media accounts has become an increasingly popular activity over the last decade. Although most people and their use of social media is non-problematic and recreational, there is an increasing percentage of users that become addicted. Or in other words, people who compulsively engage in social networking sites on an hourly, if not minutely basis. Psychologists estimate that as many as 5 to 10% of Americans meet the criteria for social media addiction today. Social media addiction is a behavioral addiction that is characterized as being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media platforms. Therefore, devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important life areas and obligations. Maui Recovery understands addiction may not be an official term in the United States, or at least not yet. But, that doesn’t mean it does not in fact exist. Researchers and clinicians who avoid using this terminology are still concerned about some of the patterns of behavior they see.

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Behaviors That Can Be Observed With Social Media Addiction

Social media addiction behavior can look much like that of any other substance use disorder. Some include: mood modification (ex: engaged in social media leads to a favorable change in emotional state), tolerance (extreme increased use of social media over time), withdrawal symptoms (ex: unpleasant physical and emotional behavior when social media use is restricted or stopped), conflict within personal relationships (ex: family or partner becomes distant or jealous of device usage), and relapse (ex: addicted individuals quickly revert back to their excessive social media usage after an abstinence period rather quickly). If you or someone you know shows signs of potential social media addiction, contact Maui Recovery. Their knowledgeable staff make recovery and a positive outcome a possibility.

The Dopamine Effect On The Brain

The rise of social media addiction can largely be linked to the dopamine-inducing social environments that social networking sites provide. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Tumblr (to name just a few) produce the same neural circuitry that is caused by gambling and recreational drugs. Therefore, helping to keep consumers using their products as much as possible and then some. Studies have shown that the constant stream of retweets, likes, and shares from these sites have affected the brain’s reward area.

Brain imaging research shows that stimulating glowing screens are as dopaminergic – dopamine-activating – to the brain’s pleasure center as sex. Current clinical research correlates screen tech with disorders like ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression, and even psychosis. Most shocking of all, recent brain imaging studies conclusively show that excessive screen exposure can neurologically damage a young person’s developing brain in the same way that drug addiction can. Or in other words, the brain receives a “reward” and relates the activity with positive reinforcement. Therefore growing stronger and more addictive over time. Maui Recovery offers programs aimed at replacing these unhealthy “reward” triggers with healthy ones. Combining the best, evidence-based treatments with powerful and transformative holistic and experimental therapies to treat the whole client.

A Digital Detox May Just Be What The Doctor Ordered From Maui Recovery

Should you or someone you know want to try a digital detox, it would be worth doing so earlier rather than later. A digital detox is known as a time during which one significantly reduces or eliminates the time spent from using electronic devices such as computers and smartphones. Small steps such as turning off notifications, limiting time on sites specifically, or disconnecting for periods of the day are a start. Some examples of disconnection would be keeping devices out of the bedroom while sleeping or turning them off while eating meals. These steps will allow more restored focus on real time social interaction with family, friends, co-workers, or even strangers. It also reduces dependency on social media and networking sites for interaction and communication, creating more awareness in the physical world.

Notably, Maui Recovery’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Kardaras is considered a leading expert on young people and digital addiction. He has clinically worked with over 2,000 teens and young adults during the last 18 years and has been active in advocating that screen addiction be recognized as a clinical disorder akin to substance addiction. As a result of his clinical training and expertise working with tech addiction, Dr. Kardaras has developed the most comprehensive treatment protocols to treat this emerging global problem. Dr. Kardaras is also the creator of Seahab, an intensive experiential form of nature immersion therapy. Based on the very successful evidence-based principles of Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH), Seahab has proven to be very effective as an intensive intervention to help addicts shift out of self-destructive and toxic lifestyle patterns. Contacting Maui Recovery for more information about social media addiction and ways of recovery are a great first step in the right direction.

The Danger Of A Partnership Between Global Panic And Social Media Addiction

Unfortunately, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how many of us today are impacted and influenced by social media on a large scale. What can scientifically be classified as a mild risk virus by the CDC, with low death rates in comparison to current deadly diseases, has now caused an extreme scale of panic and caution in the World. Media coverage about COVID-19 in the United States and Google searches have become the go-to source for information regarding the virus. Could this be the cause for the reaction that we are experiencing now?

Where did our ancestors from not long ago go for guidance during a virus or disease epidemic? The answer: each other. Without cell phones or internet searches people could only reach out to doctors, healthcare providers, and each other, as well as respected and less repeated news coverage updates. There was less temptation to check for hourly updates, scary stories aimed at entertainment, and mass panic suggestions paid for by large corporations. Maybe the difference between a time of less technology and communication options in comparison to now, is the personal space from forced information. If you feel you may have a social media addiction, turning off your devices during a time of panic may be proactive in keeping calm.

Limiting updates daily on social media platforms, and abstaining from mass media guidance may be a good idea. Being more aware of others around you, and working with your community guidelines can be healthier alternatives during a pandemic.

Stop Searching – Our Current Epidemic And The Basics You Need To Know

Concerning the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, there are some key factors to consider during this time of much confusion. As with any Flu season or virus pandemic, sanitation makes all the difference. The CDC will always keep the most current information available for the public in need of guidance. Taking basic precautions, remaining patient yet aware, and utilizing websites only when information is needed can help to calm your nerves.

How The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Spreads

The best way to prevent illness from spreading is to avoid being exposed to this virus at all. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). This particular virus is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Therefore, these droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Additionally, there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Steps To Take To Protect Yourself From Infection

Sanitation is the best way to protect yourself from infection. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Take Steps To Protect Others In Your Community

In the case that you are sick, stay home. (Except to get medical care) Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash immediately. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after sneezing in your hand or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Additionally, early information out of China where the COVD-19 was first recorded, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. Those included are: Older Adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions such as Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Lung Disease. If you are sick, wear a facemask when you are around other people especially around people listed above. (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle)

At Maui Recovery we understand that there is a lot of fear and concern regarding Covid-19; however, we want to assure you that our program has always been an ideal setup to deal with issues such as this. At Maui Recovery we are a coed 8 bed customized program based upon Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes. While other centers scramble to adapt, we have always specialized in small and personal recovery programming. Our residents attend inhouse AA, NA, Refuge Recovery and Smart Recovery Meetings. A large portion of our programming involves our adventure guides helping residents find their true self in secluded nature adventures exploring the magical Island of Maui, away from tourists. While other programs are forced to create a new program strategy in this crisis, at Maui Recovery we continue with normal programming, as we already have the perfect system in place.

In the upcoming weeks and months, we encourage readers to work on their digital health. Take time away from the internet and social media. Instead, readers should engage with the people in their immediate vicinity as a way to gain a realistic view of the world. This short vacation from certain digital mediums may seem simplistic, but it will provide powerful results.

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