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digital drugs

6/04/13 2:34pm

Why Everyone Is Hooked on Candy Crush Saga

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Too sweet to put down? Photo via

Chances are, you or someone you know is hooked on Candy Crush Sagaa match-three-in-a-row puzzle game for Facebook and smartphone that reportedly has millions of people hooked. Within just a few months, it's eclipsed all other Facebook games in popularity, and is played more than half a billion times a day on mobile alone, according to King, the game's creators. “When I first started, I played for a month straight, like all the time,” grad student and recovering Candy Crush addict Jennifer tells The Fix. “I played when I was supposed to watch TV, go to the bathroom, go to sleep—most people have to pass a level before they go to bed.” But why is the game so addictive? In part, it starts off easy, but quickly reaches challenging levels. Says Jennifer: “They made it look easy and you were always 'close' to winning, so you wanted to keep on trying until you beat that level.” Heather Kikorian, an assistant professor of psychology, says Candy Crush is designed to get you hooked, and specific parts of the game where you see success, like beating a level, can create a "pleasure response" and triggering dopamine in the brain. And social media games combine addictive gaming with the 21st Century narcotic—smartphones and Facebook. The social and competitive element makes them even harder to put down.

But what about the devastating comedown when you run out of "lives" and have to stop playing? To delay this inevitable withdrawal, some players have learned to trick the system into giving them more "lives." Jennifer tells us she figured out how to prolong her playing by turning her smartphone's clock forward, and her mom hoards extra lives by not opening her inbox. Another way to get extra lives is to buy them—which one woman says cost her $40. Though Jennifer is now two months clean from this social media game, she may well fall victim to the next one. Scott Steinberg, author of Video Game Marketing and PR, says turnover with these addictive games is high: “With attention spans shortening and so many alternatives so readily available, players tend to move on to the next big game quickly."

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By Bryan Le

alcoholics anonymous

6/04/13 12:47pm

Map: Is Alcoholics Anonymous Mainly for the Rich?

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All are welcome. But are all attending?
Adrienne Erin

The official line of Alcoholics Anonymous is that the “only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” This may be true in theory, but in practice a number of other factors apply—including economic standing. How do socioeconomic conditions influence AA membership? For starters, finding—and attending—meetings may be a lot easier if you live in a more affluent neighborhood. This map of Brooklyn, put together by Adrienne Erin of WebpageFX, is divided by neighborhood and color-coded according to median income. Patterns also show the ratio of people per AA meeting in each neighborhood. Notably, the areas with the highest median income—Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Brooklyn Heights—have more AA meetings available. Neighborhoods like East Flatbush, Coney Island, Crown Heights and East New York have a significantly lower median income and significantly lower concentrations of meetings. Click on the map below to view it in more detail:

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By Ben Feuerherd

reality stars

6/04/13 12:00pm

Jesse James' Daughter Now In Recovery, Like Her Dad

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Recovering addict and biker icon Jesse
James Photo via

Motorcycle entrepreneur and reality TV star Jesse James has revealed he is 13 years clean, after confirming that his teenage daughter entered treatment for drug addiction earlier this year. Eighteen-year-old Chandler James spent the month of April at an inpatient facility and is "out now and in recovery, actively participating in a 12-step AA program," says James. The story leaked after Radar Online posted a video and photos of Chandler inhaling crystal meth off a piece of aluminum foil at a party earlier this year, while sources told the website that she used to inhale keyboard cleaner to get high. "It is an open secret here in Austin that Chandler and her friends party hard and get wired," said the source, "It was getting pretty out of hand. If she didn't get help, who knows what could have happened?" After confirming the reports, James has revealed on Facebook that he is in recovery himself, and has been clean for 13 years. "Everything always seems to come to a head the closer it gets to getting another year clean,” he writes, “But I always see the light at the end of the tunnel." He also urges other struggling addicts to get help: "If you guys gals know somebody that struggles with drinking or drugs or any kind of addiction please just help them, don’t judge them. Just give them help. Most times that’s all they need." In 2010, James checked into rehab for undisclosed reasons after his marriage to Sandra Bullock fell apart due to reports of his infidelity.

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By McCarton Ackerman

workplace smoking

6/04/13 11:08am

Smokers Cost Employers $6,000 More Per Year

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8-minute breaks add up. Photo via

Employees who smoke are costing their employers nearly $6,000 more a year in costs from health insurance and lost productivity, a new study finds. The research, published in the journal Tobacco Control, could support a growing trend of banning smoking in the workplace and refusing to hire employees who smoke. Past studies have shown that smokers' ensuing health problems end up costing the health care system and health insurers more. And since many companies pay for health care costs themselves, they may also experience a direct financial burden from employees' smoking, in addition to the lost productivity from workers stepping away for a smoke break. For the first time, researchers added up these cumulative costs, including: sick days, smoke breaks, and the costs of benefits from not having to pay pensions to employees who die prematurely. Even adjusting for the fact that some employers pay smokers less, they estimate that in total, the annual excess cost of employing a smoker is $5,816. The research also suggested that smokers are significantly less productive in the workplace. “Though all employees are occasionally unproductive in one way or another, research suggests that smoking status negatively impacts productivity separately and apart from lost work time due to smoking breaks and absenteeism,” researchers wrote. The CDC estimates that 19% of adults smoke in the US, and 443,000 people die prematurely because of this habit every year. Additionally, an estimated $193 billion is lost in productivity and health expenses related to smoking each year.

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By Valerie Tejeda

headlines

6/04/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: June 4, 2013

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Grumpy Cat's warning Photo via

By Bryan Le

love in recovery

6/03/13 5:52pm

Overeater and Anorexic Fall in Love at Eating Disorder Clinic

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Love is recovery-deep Photo via

They may look very different, but their not-so-different underlying struggles helped Lizzie Elsburg and Chris Glasgow fall in love at a California eating disorders clinic. Elsburg, 24, was severely underweight and in treatment for anorexia, while Chris Glasgow, 28, was obese and in treatment for compulsive overeating, when the two met in August 2012 at Pacific Shores Hospital. Elsburg says "it was a little weird at first," because while she was encouraged to consume a diet of high-calorie foods, he was put on a strict low-calorie diet: "It felt like we should switch plates." But she eventually realized that their food issues were actually pretty alike. "I use food by cutting it out, he uses food by overdoing it, so it's the opposite but serves the same purpose," she says. "We recognized that we were both determined to beat our eating disordersand that's what drew us together." Elsburg says at first she "couldn't understand how anyone could let themselves get to that size," but after getting to know him she "was able to see past his body issues, because I have body issues too." Two months later, Glasgow proposed, and Elsburg accepted. However, she says the weddingwhich is planned for next summeris "contingent" on his achieving his goal of a healthy weight. "If he went back to eating fast food and junk food, the relationship wouldn't work," she says, "from a health standpoint and from a point of physical attraction." Glasgow admits there is "a lot on the line," but says the ultimatum makes him realize "just how important it is to stay on track." The couple is now living near each other in Virginia and both are continuing their treatment through weekly counseling sessions.

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By Victoria Kim

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