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All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

The answer is Palm Partners Recovery Center. It’s a proven path to getting sober and staying sober.

Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

Pokémon Go: The New Digital Addiction

Pokémon Go: The New Digital Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

Let’s talk about Pokémon Go, why not? Considering literally everyone else in the world is, why shouldn’t we get in on the action? Ever since this new phenomenon has hit the streets in the form of an interactive smartphone app that is quickly consuming the lives of customers all over America there have been some pretty intense stories. It seems the game is probably one of the most instantaneously addictive things on the market right now, so of course it brings to mind previous conversations on:

I can personally say I was pretty amused when my roommate stumbled out of his room at 2 AM in his underwear chasing invisible creatures through the apartment via his phone like a mad man…

Apparently, there is some rare breed of something hiding in my closet… but I digress…

People have become obsessed overnight with this game. It seems any time you walk into a room with anyone around the age of… being alive… you are going to be an obstacle in their mission of hunting some pixelated Pokémon. Some people are worried about how obsessed people have become. Others insist it has done wonders for their mental health. So I wanted to take a look at some of these interesting theories.

What is it?

Essentially Pokémon Go is a game based on a Nintendo-owned franchise that was especially popular in the late 1990’s. This new smartphone game uses a phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when people are in the game. Then it makes Pokémon “appear” around you.

No, not literally… but you can see them through your phone camera on the screen… so basically real life, right?

The idea is to go and catch them. Different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is.

Mental Health

First let us say that many of these claims can’t be fully legitimized at this time. However, Twitter users seem confident in what they see happening with others and experiencing themselves regarding mental health and Pokémon Go. One Twitter user put it as:

Pokémon Go is literally making people with depression and anxiety and agoraphobia leave the house and explore and socialize.”

Which when you examine the nature of the game does actually make some sense. Pokémon Go requires users to go into the outside world and explore to find Pokémon and items.

Many players have said that the game gives them an incentive to get out of the house and be active. It inspires some to exercise and spend time outdoors, while having fun and interacting with others. Now if you look at it this way, how could it not do some good for mental health?

I honestly had to wonder this myself when the game was first announced. As I watched co-workers and friends wonder aimlessly through parking lots and gather together to share their latest catches, I figured this was giving us a new way to get outside more and get active with one another. Maybe it’s not so bad, right?

Then there is the argument of if the trade-off is worth it for having teens and young adults yet again dragged too deep into their phones. This concern also makes sense to me. If you have this new obsession with constantly striving to “catch em all” then how will your personal relationships and responsibilities suffer? I don’t know anyone personally, but you can be sure a few people have already lost their jobs or blown off their dates to chase Pikachu around a grocery store.

Pokémon Related Injury

This is one side-effect I definitely saw coming, but I was not aware of the magnitude that it might manifest in. Already Pokémon– related injuries are being reported all over the country. So many people have admitted in social media forums that they completely forgot where they were, dropping all focus on their surroundings.

One Reddit user’s story has made the rounds online about ending up in the ER on night after falling into a ditch and fracturing bones in their foot 30 minutes into playing the game. There are even accounts of drivers getting into traffic accidents because they were playing the game out the window while driving.

To be fair, the makers of the game did make a warning to be aware of surroundings.

Risky Rocket Business

This should be taken as a serious warning if nothing else. The game has been notably misused already. Police in O’Fallon, Missouri have reported four people suspected of armed robberies involving Pokémon Go. The suspects reportedly placed beacons, which are a feature available in the game to interact with the surroundings, to lure people to their locations where they robbed them. 11 teenagers have been mugged this way so far, according to this initial report.

So #TeamRocket is becoming an actual thing… and they are freaking people out. Is this gaming addiction really that serious? Do people really need to risk their lives, or the lives of others, for these imaginary monsters?

Most Addictive App Ever?

Some are already calling Pokémon Go the most addictive gaming app ever. It has experienced a number of technical issues since its launch, including server crashes and other issues. Still, for a FREE gaming app with all this hype, it is doing pretty well for itself. Looking back there was Pokémon Blue and other titles for the franchise. People have been working their way up to this all along.

The question remains- what could this do for people’s mental health? If it really is that addictive, what consequences will it reap on those who have a tendency of taking things too far? Will we see a spike in gaming addiction and obsessive behaviors? Or will it actually have a mixed impact as it lures people out of their homes and into their communities. Some surprising testimonies have told how random strangers in a community come together, united over the teams they choose and to make strategies for how to play.

So next time you see someone blindly following their phone into on-coming traffic… maybe they are just trying to track down a Evee or a Squirtle? Maybe you should save them from themselves and keep them on the sidewalk… or some of you will probably hope to have the Pokémon to yourself… FOR SHAME!

Addiction can involve behaviors not related to taking drugs or drinking excessively. You can be addicted to the internet, gaming, gambling, sex, eating, or any other behavior that is causing problems in your life, such as destroying relationships, your health, or interfering with your job. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call us at 1-800-951-6135

Virtual Reality Therapy Treating Alcohol Abuse

Virtual Reality Therapy Treating Alcohol Abuse

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

If you were tapped into the matrix could it actually help treat your alcoholism? I mean who wouldn’t want Morpheus to be their sponsor?

All jokes aside, in the age of new and improved technology designed to change the way we learn, connect and communicate there is no wonder the graphics of the gaming and entertainment world have done their very best to stay up to date with the times. And as the evolution of the virtual world encodes itself in the mainframe of history, it seems to offer some new upgrades for the way we treat alcoholism.

Virtual reality therapy (VRT) has been used to successfully in the mental health field to treat phobias and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Now researchers from Chung-Ang University Hospital in Seoul, South Korea say a similar strategy may be the key to treating alcohol dependency.

In a recent small-scale study proved alcoholic participants experienced a reduction in their cravings for a drink, following detox and virtual reality therapy.

How VR Rehab Works?

It’s all about exposure.

The fundamental philosophy backing this treatment tactic is the idea of recurring exposure to whatever is painful or difficult helps reduce its power to cause distress. So basically instead of the subject hiding from something, they are challenged to face the issue head-on.

Virtual reality treatments are most commonly used for patients with anxiety disorders, and the concept of exposure is tested through repeated contact with situations or stimuli that usually trigger fear and dread.

Of course thanks to the virtual reality these contacts are always made in a safe and controlled environment and through the contact to the fear or situation patients have learned how to better manage real-life encounters with anxiety-producing conditions.

Studying the Strategy

Senior researcher Dr. Doug Hyun Han, MD, PhD, of Chung-Ang University Hospital in Seoul, and his colleagues developed their study on the use of virtual reality exposure therapy for alcoholics by recruiting 12 patients already in treatment programs.

Initially all patients were given a series of scans so the researchers could study their respective brain metabolism, including

  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan

The initial shock came then when they were compared to healthy volunteers.

The brains’ limbic circuit in alcohol dependent patients demonstrated a faster metabolism, and according to Dr. Han this discovery alone indicates a heightened sensitivity to stimuli (including drugs and alcohol).

12 study participants were given a week long detox period from alcohol and other substances, after which they each submitted to 10 sessions of virtual-reality therapy. The sessions were administered two times a week, and consisted of three dissimilar virtual scenes:

  • A relaxing environment
  • A high-risk situation
  • An aversive setting

The high risk environment was represented as a restaurant where other people were drinking alcohol.

In the aversive setting patients found themselves surrounded by symptoms of people getting sick from drinking too much alcohol, including:

  • Sights
  • Sounds
  • Smells

After 5 five weeks of virtual-reality therapy, the participants returned for another brain scan.

The results of this scan is where things got interesting, because each individual’s fast-paced brain metabolism had slowed down after the treatment program.

Calculating Conclusions

Dr. Han suggests this represents a diminished craving for alcohol. However, he has not gone as far as to say this proves beyond all doubt the digital treatment program is foolproof. Dr. Han does insist a larger study is needed to verify these results.

He does have a firm belief virtual reality treatments similar to the program designed for this study may help patients remain abstinent and even could help recovering alcoholics avoid relapses, and also that it may be especially effective for patients with alcohol troubles because the technology places them in a real-life context and then requires their active participation.

Is this possible?

Could facing the situation in a controlled environment help condition recovering alcoholics face their temptations in real life?

There are probably plenty of people out there who adamantly believe there is no substitute for the real thing, and the idea of using a virtual walk-through to build resilience to drinking is a lot less effective than an active program of rigorous action.

Either way, it may be this new treatment is helping to expand our options for treatment. While these anti-drinking simulations are probably not a reliable recovery plan in themselves, they could soon become part of treatment plans to help build the foundation, and that is probably not a bad thing.

While the future promises to offer new technology that could revolutionize treatment even further, today there are innovative and progressive treatment programs for helping an alcoholic find a way out. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-851-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.

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