Addiction to pornography damages lives and relationships, but can be unlearned, according to new research from Australia. Researchers from the University of Sydney conducted an online survey with 800 participants, and found that 20% "preferred the excitement of watching porn to being sexually intimate with their partner.” They also found that porn addiction starts young—very young. As many as 43% of respondents began viewing porn between the ages of 11 and 13. The time spent viewing pornography each day ranged from 30 minutes to three hours for 47% of respondents. Porn addicts reported some extreme relationship and social problems; some had lost their jobs or gotten into legal trouble. "Sooner or later, this takes over their lives and it becomes the only thing that can give them satisfaction," says lead study author Professor Raj Sitharthan. Although he believes the wide availability of porn is here to stay, he says the habit can be unlearned. "Some people view it as a moral disease. We are taking the view that it's not a disease, and certainly not a moral disease. It's a normal part of the growing," he argues. "If you take a very moralistic stance, then I think you are basically turning people away from seeking treatment." Sitharthan emphasizes that recovery is possible: “Some people overdo it and they can learn to cut down if they want and reduce it to a level that does not impact on their relationships, finances or studies."
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- Chronic Cocaine Use Triggers Changes In Brain's Neuron Structure [ScienceDaily]
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Do you glance at your cellphone despite having done so just seconds earlier? If so, you may be suffering from a phenomenon that British researchers term nomophobia ("No Mobile(phone) Phobia")—the fear of separation from your mobile phone. Symptoms include: obsessive checking, constant worrying about losing it even when it's in a safe place, and never turning it off. According to a recent study from mobile tech company SecurEnvoy, people check their phones 34 times a day on average—and 75% of people surveyed say they take their phones to the bathroom. And nomophobia is apparently on the rise, with 66% of us meeting the criteria for the condition—up from 53% four years ago.
One 22-year-old woman from New York tells The Fix, “My heart sometimes races as I approach the stairs leaving the subway, waiting for service to kick in.” And 27-year-old Lauren says that she once awoke from a nap to find herself cuddling with her phone. Nomophobia can also create a feeling of disorientation—as comedian Kelly Oxford tweeted: "Every time I'm talking on my iPhone, I look for my iPhone." According to the study, the younger you are, the more likely you are to be afflicted. But it’s not just young people who display symptoms: New Yorker Dave, 31, says that while out with his parents, he'll often “realize at some point that they are both texting/tweeting/whatevering.”
Dr. David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction (virtual-addiction.com), tells us that although nomophobics rarely seek treatment primarily for the condition, it has emerged as an ancillary complaint for a rising number of his patients. He says cell phone addiction has a huge impact on his patients’ relationships, work productivity and driving safety. “It's not so much the behavior itself,” he explains, “as the imbalance it creates in the rest of your life… Cell phones act like small slot machines. Every text, web search, or email carries with it unpredictable rewards in the form of a hit of dopamine to the brain.” Limiting your use of cellphone technology, he advises, is the first step towards getting help.
Riddle this: “Bill,” a college sprinter, didn't have enough time and focus to train, so he uses steroids and wins the competition. “Jeff,” a student, didn't have enough time and focus to study, so he uses Adderall and gets a good grade. Which performance-enhancing drug user is more unethical? Psychology researchers posed the question to 1,200 male Penn State freshmen, who overwhelmingly responded that Bill was the badder guy. This may be surprising on one level, considering our school grades shape our career futures, while few of use go on to become pro athletes. But psychologists have a theory as to why: sports are zero-sum, meaning if someone wins, someone else has to lose. But in academia, even if someone else gets an A, it doesn't detract from your own grade. Another factor that came into play was whether the students who were asked the question used memory-boosting drugs themselves—if they themselves popped performance pills, they were less likely to find Jeff's actions unethical. About 8% of the study participants reported non-medical use of a stimulant such as Adderall in the month prior to the survey, compared with fewer than 1% who had taken steroids. The students generally felt that intelligence is fixed—unlike muscles and athleticism—and can't be increased through brain-practice. A growing number of studies show this to be untrue.
Should drugs be legalized? Who's to blame for America's prescription pill epidemic? How should addiction itself be defined? We hear rumors and controversies about drugs every day—and so do you.
The Fix is teaming up with the Phoenix House to hold an open-to-all Twitter chat to separate the myths from the truth. It happens tomorrow, Friday May 11, 3-4 pm EST. We want you to get involved and share your views—and taking part is easy! Just log on to Twitter, follow @_TheFix and @PhoenixHouse and start firing out your answers to the questions we ask (make sure to include #drugchat in all your tweets, so everyone can keep up).
You'll be swapping ideas with expert participants like Dr. Paul Hokemeyer (@drpaulnyc, marriage and family therapist, and regular on the Dr. Oz Show) and Patty Powers (@sobercoachnyc, sober coach and writer, and regular on A&E's Relapse). Authors Nic Sheff (@nic_sheff, Tweak, We All Fall Down) and Sacha Scoblic (@sachaZscoblic, Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety) will also feature, as well as some excellent recovery and health-related organizations, like @healthyliving, @hickorywindrnch and @visionsteen.
We'll welcome friends from Phoenix House, including CEO Howard Meitiner (@hmeitiner), and a host of fascinating Fix contributors, including @TSmellsworth, @jeff_deeney and @guinevere64. And don't forget your ever-faithful Fix staff: @mrmikeguy, @joeschrank, @annadavid, @godfreywill, @hrslaton, @shutupmay, @justb_le.
Lock horns with any or all of them tomorrow. We'll see you there! #drugchat
Looks like one officer didn't think NYPD's motto, "To Protect and Serve," applied to off-hours. Former NYC cop Emmanuel Taverez was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison for his role in at least eight robberies of drug dealers during his off-duty hours as a member of the NYPD. His crime spree began while he was enrolled in the police academy and continued over the next several years, even while he was enforcing the law. The crew of street bandits he worked with typically posed as police officers and staged fake car stops and arrests, sometimes with phony search warrants and a cars disguised as unmarked police vehicle. Victims were restrained with handcuffs, rope or tape before the drugs were taken and later sold. Taverez typically performed surveillance or acted as a lookout in the robberies, but he also wielded a gun and identified himself as a police officer in a 2005 home burglary in Connecticut that saw his crew make off with over $200,000. The DEA also discovered that for a cut of the stolen drug proceeds, Taverez was providing the crew with replicas of his badge, handcuffs and NYPD raid jackets. "At the time you were apprehending felons, you were a felon yourself," said U.S. District Judge Sandra Townes, who presided over the hearing in Brooklyn. The judge also rejected claims that Taverez was coerced into participating by the drug bandits: "You acted out of greed, not duress."