Screen/Process Addiction Treatment
A collaborative effort between Integrative Counseling & The Thrive Center
Integrative Counseling, in conjunction with The Thrive Center, is pleased to offer a screen addictions program for adults struggling with the unhealthy use of technology. Just like chemical addictions, people with a technology use problem or a “screen addiction” have brains that have been re-wired or altered to receive more pleasure from screen activities than from “real life” activities. These people might avoid responsibilities, lose friends, end marriages, or lose jobs.
Screen addiction is like a substance addiction in the brain
Screen Addictions are a form of “Process Addiction”. In people with a process addiction, the brain is altered (or addicted) in the same way a person gets addicted to drugs or alcohol. There is a physical change in the brain’s structure and how the brain operates that make it hard or seemingly impossible for people to change without help. This is why some people are able to easily change their behaviors and some cannot despite consequences and commitments. Unfortunately, an addicted person’s brain is “hijacked”, causing a person who is totally committed to change, to not be able to act upon their commitment despite real word consequences. While this is really frustrating for spouses, parents, bosses, and everyone around the addict, it is more frustrating to the addicted person themselves. Often, this frustration is reduced by going back to the one thing that makes them feel good – the addiction itself: technology and all it holds! We understand this process and can help family members and important support persons understand while helping the technology addicted person make changes to overcome their addiction.
Who does it effect?
For some people with issues such as ADHD, ASD, depression or social anxiety, the screen addiction might be a form of self-medication – a distraction from or numbing of intolerable feelings.
Whether or not you have any of these underlying conditions, excessive screen use can still become addictive – and can lead to problems with school, work, and relationships. For kids, teens, and young adults, addiction can cause delays in the development of critical emotional and life skills; delays that can only be made up once the addiction ends.
Steps We Take
Integrative Counseling offers an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) exclusively created to address screen addictions. This program includes treatment and education groups that run 3 hours daily, 3 days a week. Groups focus on topics such as:
- How your addiction developed
- Recognizing and changing triggers
- Finding healthy, substitute activities
- Mindfulness and mindful use of the internet
- Distress tolerance
- Relapse prevention
- The importance of connecting with self and with others
- Delayed use of screens and early detachment from screen use
In addition, we offer a weekly family group and access to family and couples therapy and/or psychiatric services as needed.
How We can Help
We have the experience and can help people make the change. With support, you or your loved one can defeat the hijacked brain and help their brain to return to normal functioning. For those with underlying mental health or substance use concerns, we go a step further: treat the underlying condition so there is less reason to return to this unhealthy screen addiction. As needed, in addition to our process addiction treatment, we can provide medication management or psychiatric evaluation as well as ongoing mental health counseling
How do you recover?
If you recognize the signs of screen addiction in yourself or a loved one, get help. Some people can change these addictive patterns on their own. But for those deep into their addiction, getting the brain and behaviors back on track requires professional assistance. Most addicts heal more rapidly and in a more sustained way when in a supportive treatment setting.
Initial Detox Period
We do understand that in our current lives, the use of technology is often essential. In chemical addictions, like alcohol or heroin, we encourage abstinence from all drugs for life – achieved one day at a time. However, the idea of life long abstinence from technology is not possible. To help the brain to heal we will need an initial period of abstinence from technology. This is not unlike putting a broken leg in a cast and using crutches to let a broken leg heal. Our brains need a break from technology to heal from a screen addiction. In order to help our brains heal, we work with you to create an initial 30-day period of technology abstinence – or at least a greatly reduced period of technology use in the case of people who have jobs or careers that cannot avoid technology. The Thrive Center helps younger clients under the age of 30 to create an initial 30-day abstinence program. Integrative Counseling works with clients over age 30 to create an initial 30-day abstinent program
Do these stories sound Familiar?
Connor is 18 and lonely. College was a bust; it’s hard to do well sitting in your dorm room playing video games all day. Now he’s living at his parents’ house, up all night, hanging out with on-line friends – and driving his parents crazy.
Geoff is 37, a successful lawyer – and in trouble at work from his screen addiction. He got caught spending several hours on-line every day. At home, it’s the same story; he stays in his den with the door closed, racking up hour after hour of on-line play. But the addiction is taking its toll: his kids miss him, and his wife is tired of going to bed alone.
How To Get Started
Call Integrative Counseling at 410.740.8067 to schedule an appointment with Rod Wright, LGPC or Mark Donovan, LCPC, LCADC. At this appointment, we can determine if this program is right for you and discuss in greater depth how the program works.
Unfortunately, this program is not covered by insurance. Despite the problems this issue can cause, process addictions are not recognized as a diagnosable event so no diagnosis can be given. Insurance will not cover any program for the treatment of screen addictions.