Your Health Matters: Your Experts
Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery
Our Articles & Videos
We Put Troubled Lives Back Together
WATCH OUR LIVE AT FIVE VIDEO:
Coleen Moore - Video Game Addiction
Vickie Lewis - Adderall and Mothers
Heidi Scuffham - Youth Gambling Prevention
Kara Logan - Binge Drinking
Coleen Moore - Eating Disorders
Vickie Lewis - Reducing Holiday Stress
Vickie Lewis - Gambling
Amanda Doman - SeekingTreatment
Vickie Lewis - Video Game Addiction
Tonya Camacho - Gambling Addiction
Shannon Chrismore - Prescription Drugs & Youth
A Special News 25 Nightside Report on Addiction and Treatment
Vicki Lavick - Sex Addiction Misconceptions
The IIAR® Proctor Hospital is located in a 12,000 sq. ft., free-standing facility adjacent to Proctor's outpatient Counseling and Recovery Center. The facility accommodates inpatients and outpatients from across the country in an easily accessible, highly confidential setting surrounded by the wooded, park-like campus of Proctor Hospital. Addiction assessment and recovery services are also provided by IIAR in Springfield, at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in nearby Bloomington/Normal and Ingalls Memorial Hospital in the Chicagoland Area.
IIAR services are available for men, women and adolescents for a range of care from modern intensive medical treatment to prevention counseling.
IIAR developed the first comprehensive, specialized compulsive gambling treatment program in Illinois in 1993, in addition to treatment and counseling for compulsive gamblers and their families.
IIAR also developed the world’s first comprehensive Internet addiction treatment program in 1996 and the nation’s most comprehensive chronic pain with addiction treatment program in 1998.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do you have an Alcohol or Drug problem?
- 1. Each time you drink or use drugs, does it take more and more to get you drunk or high?
2. Do you find yourself using alcohol or drugs to reduce anxiety?
3. Do you ever lose control over alcohol or drug use?
4. Do you ever drink or use drugs first thing in the morning to steady your nerves?
If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, you may have a problem with alcohol or drug addiction. Call an IIAR counselor at 1-800-522-3784 or CLICK HERE to contact us at one of our regional treatment centers.
- Do you have a Food Addiction?
- 1.Has anyone ever told you that you have a problem with food?
2.Do you think food is a problem for you?
- What makes the Internet addictive?
- Some internet users may develop an emotional attachment to on-line friends and activities they create on their computer screens. Internet users may enjoy aspects of the internet that allow them to meet, socialize and exchange ideas through the use of chat rooms or "virtual communities". These communities allow the person the means to escape from reality and seek out means to fulfill unmet emotional and psychological needs, which are more intimate and less threatening than real life relationships.
Some Internet addicts may also create on-line personas where they are able to alter their identities and pretend to be someone other than themselves.The highest risk for creation of a secret life are those who suffer from low self esteem, feelings of inadequacy, and fear of disapproval from others. Such negative self concepts lead to clinical problems of depression and anxiety.
- What is Sexual Addiction?
- Sexual addiction can be understood by comparing it to other types of addiction. Chemical addicts find they need drugs to feel normal. In sexual addiction, a parallel situation exists. Sex provides the "high" and addicts become dependent on this sexual high to feel normal. They substitute healthy relationships for unhealthy ones and opt for temporary pleasure rather than the deeper quality of "normal" intimate relationships. Sexual addiction follows the same progressive nature of other addictions. Sexual addicts struggle to control their behaviors and experience despair over constant failure to do so. Their loss of self-esteem grows, adding to the need to escape further into addictive behavior. Sexual addicts feel tremendous guilt and shame about their out-of-control behavior, and live in constant fear of discovery.
- What behaviors indicate Sexual Addiction?
- oA pattern of out-of-control sexual behavior.
Examples include: Compulsive masturbation, indulging in pornography, having multiple affairs, exhibitionism, dangerous sexual practices, prostitution, anonymous sex, compulsive sexual episodes and voyeurism.
o Experiencing severe consequences due to sexual behavior, and an inability to stop despite these adverse consequences.
Consequences include: Loss of partner or spouse, severe marital or relationship problems, loss of career opportunities, unwanted pregnancies, suicidal ideation, exposure to AIDS or other sexually transmitted disease.
o Persistent pursuit of self-destructive behavior.
Sexual addicts understand the consequences of their actions but cannot stop acting out. They often seem to have a willfulness about them and an attitude that prevents them from dealing with the consequences of their behavior until it is too late.
o On-going desire or effort to limit sexual behavior.
Sex addicts often create external barriers in an attempt to control their sexual behavior. Examples include moving to new cities, neighborhoods, or a new environment. Many immerse themselves in religion to soothe their shame, but their acting out continues. Sexual anorexia is also attempted in which they allow themselves no sexual expression at all.
o Sexual obsession and fantasy as a primary coping strategy.
By fantasizing, the sex addict can maintain a constant level of arousal. Along with obsession, the two behaviors can create a kind of analgesic "fix".
o Regularly increasing the amount of sexual experience because the current level of activity is no longer sufficiently satisfying.
Sexual addiction is often progressive and while many sex addicts may attempt to control their behavior for a period of time, the behavior returns and quickly escalates to levels beyond those previously experienced. Bingeing occurs to the point of emotional exhaustion, and withdrawal for sex addicts can parallel the physical pain experienced by those withdrawing from opiate addiction.
o Severe mood changes related to sexual activity.
Sex addicts experience intense shifts in mood, often due to the despair and shame of unwanted sex.
o Inordinate amounts of time spent obtaining sex, being sexual, and recovering from sexual experiences.
Two sets of activities organize a sexual addict's day. One involves obsession, devoting them to initiating sex, and actually being sexual, the other is dealing with consequences of the sexual behavior.
o Neglect of important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of sexual behavior.
- What behaviors indicate Compulsive Shopping and Spending?
- Behaviors typical of compulsive shopping and spending include the following:
oShopping or spending money as a result of feeling disappointed, angry or scared
o Shopping or spending habits causing emotional distress in one's life
oHaving arguments with others about one's shopping or spending habits
oFeeling lost without credit cards
o Buying items on credit that would not be bought with cash
oFeeling a rush of euphoria and anxiety when spending money
oFeeling guilty, ashamed, embarrassed or confused after shopping or spending money
oLying to others about purchases made or how much money was spent
oThinking excessively about money
o Spending a lot of time juggling accounts or bills to accommodate spending
Identification of four or more of the above behaviors indicates a possible problem with shopping or spending.
- What problems are caused by Compulsive Shopping and Spending?
- Compulsive shopping or spending may result in interpersonal, occupational, family and financial problems in one's life. In many ways the consequences of this behavior are similar to that of any other addiction.
Impairment in relationships may occur as a result of excessive spending and efforts to cover up debt or purchases. Persons who engage in compulsive shopping or spending may become pre-occupied with that behavior and spend less and less time with important people in their lives. They may experience anxiety or depression as a result of the spending or shopping which may interfere with work or school performance.
Financial problems may occur if money is borrowed or there is excessive use of credit to make purchases. Often the extent of the financial damage is discovered only after the shopper or spender has accumulated a large debt that necessitates a drastic change in lifestyle to resolve. Recovery groups such as Debtors Anonymous have formed to help compulsive shoppers and spenders return to normal, appropriate patterns of buying.
- What makes Compulsive Shopping and Spending Addictive?
- There are many social and cultural factors that tend to increase the addictive potential of shopping and spending. The easy availability of credit and the material focus of society in general encourage people to accumulate possessions now and worry about financial responsibility later.
Society places a strong emphasis on one's outer appearance and many media personalities promote spending money to achieve a certain look that will bring about happiness. In addition, the accessibility of purchasing has been made easier with the arrival of online shopping and television programs devoted to buying goods 24 hours a day. Items can be purchased and ordered by express delivery to arrive quickly without the buyer having to leave home or personally interact with anyone else.
The shopping and spending activity itself is associated with a feeling of happiness and power which is immediately gratifying. The after effects of remorse and guilt drive the spender back to purchase again to be able to achieve that brief but intense emotional high. Research has shown that many compulsive shoppers and spenders also suffer from mood disorders, substance abuse, or eating disorders. As with any addiction, the person becomes dependent on the behavior to relieve negative feelings that cause them distress and discomfort.
- What is the difference between casual social Gambling and pathological Gambling?
- Gambling can be defined as playing a game of chance for stakes. Gambling occurs in many forms, most commonly pari-mutuels (horse and dog tracks, off-track-betting parlors, Jai Alai), lotteries, casinos (slot machines, table games), bookmaking (sports books and horse books), card rooms, bingo and the stock market.
Pathological gambling is a progressive disease that devastates not only the gambler but everyone with whom he or she has a significant relationship. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association accepted pathological gambling as a "disorder of impulse control." It is an illness that is chronic and progressive, but it can be diagnosed and treated.
- Are teens Gambling?
- Research conducted by Henry Lesieur, Ph.D., Durand Jacobs, Ph.D., and others indicates that adolescents are about three times more likely than adults to become problem gamblers. This finding sounds an alarm for the future and indicates a growing need for additional adult and adolescent gambling treatment counselors across the nation.
- Is pathological gambling similar to chemical dependency?
- Yes and no. Similarities between pathological gambling and chemical dependency include an inability to stop/control the addiction, denial, severe depression, and mood swings. Pathological gambling and chemical dependency are both progressive diseases with similar phases. These include "chasing" the first win/high, experiencing blackouts and using the object of addiction to escape pain. Both pathological gamblers and persons addicted to alcohol or drugs are preoccupied with their addiction, experience low self-esteem, use rituals, and seek immediate gratification.
Unlike chemical addiction, pathological gambling is a hidden disease gamblers do not stumble, have needles in their arm, or smell of cards and dice. Pathological gamblers cannot overdose in the conventional sense, but they experience tremendous financial problems that require immediate attention. More resources are available to chemical dependency than gambling addiction, in part because most people do not perceive gambling as potentially addicting. It is very important that pathological gamblers receive crisis stabilization at the beginning of their treatment, because pathological gamblers have a much higher suicide rate than persons addicted to alcohol or drugs.
- How are children affected by pathological Gambling?
- Children may be affected in several ways. They may be physically and/or emotionally abandoned by their parents, who are unable to provide their children with needed attention and nurturing because of the time spent gambling. "Casino kids" have been left by themselves at the outer rim of casinos while their parents gamble, according to some casino security officers. In some extreme cases, children are left in the family car in the casino parking lot for hours at a time while their parents gamble inside. Less obviously, children may also spend several hours each week with babysitters while their parents gamble in casinos, bingo halls or card rooms. All of these scenarios may lead a child to feel physically and emotionally abandoned.
In addition, the dysfunction that pathological gambling creates in a home often includes spouse and child abuse. Children are abused verbally, mentally and physically by the gambler, and often even more so by the co-dependent spouse. This devastating abuse frequently goes unnoticed or is denied by others as the child suffers in silence.
Another way children are affected by pathological gambling is when they become pathological gamblers themselves. Today, teens are approximately three times more likely than adults to become problem and pathological gamblers. It is imperative that we educate young people about the dangers of pathological gambling and the importance of seeking help if gambling becomes a problem.
- Are gamblers addicted to money?
- Pathological gamblers are addicted to action, not money. Many pathological gamblers will gamble to lose in the desperation phase of their addiction, because it is the action they seek, not the money. For a gambler, being in action is similar to being high on cocaine for the person addicted to cocaine. Both describe their "drug of choice" as seductive and ultimately destructive.
- What is the financial counselor's role in treating pathological Gambling at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery?
- Pathological gamblers often find themselves in a devastating financial position by the time they reach treatment. Helping them become financially stable goes a long way in supporting their recovery and the well-being of their families.
It is the responsibility of the financial counselor first to determine the extent of the gambler's debt, and then to help guide them out of their financial problems through debt management, budgeting and restitution.
- Is there one type of Gambling that is more addictive than others?
- Video poker and slot machines have been referred to as the "crack cocaine of gambling." Because of their immediate and effective reinforcement schedules, problem gamblers who regularly play these machines appear to progress into pathological gambling much faster than problem gamblers who only gamble at horse races, or other games that do not have such an immediate rate of gratification.
Just as crack cocaine, referred to as the "great precipitator", shortened the length of time between first use of cocaine and chronic addiction, so too have video poker and slot machines apparently reduced the length of time between first wager and pathological gambling. In the past, a gambler would experience 15 to 25 years of "sick" gambling at the horse track before he or she reached the desperation phase. Today, it is not uncommon for a gambler addicted to slot or video-poker machines to progress into the desperation phase in two or three years.
- Is there a biological basis for pathological Gambling?
- Biological findings from a recent study indicate that pathological gambling is an addiction similar to chemical addiction.
A study conducted by Alec Roy, M.D., a psychiatrist formerly at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, showed that some pathological gamblers have lower levels of norepinephrine than normal gamblers. This brain chemical is secreted under stress, arousal, thrill and excitement, so pathological gamblers may engage in activities such as gambling to increase their levels of norepinephrine.
This evidence supports the assertion made by Dr. Henry Lesieur, among others, that some pathological gamblers are "action seekers" who gamble, not for money, but for the excitement associated with being in action.