Monthly Archives: April 2014

Internet Addiction: Trading Real Relationships for the Virtual Community

“I share, therefore I am.” –Sherry Turkle

The world as it is today is more connected than ever. Yet, people are somehow missing on the real life connections around them – family, friends, coworkers.

Before the constant digital connectivity, people gave their attention to the moment: to the activity and people in front of them. Cameras were a separate device; no one regularly took pictures of lunch – then dinner, coffee, nails, and new shoes – and shared it with the world. Now we have constant distraction that we think keeps us in touch.

Of course, people can argue that nothing has really changed and that we still connect with those around us. But is it really connecting when you text, comment, or tweet while a friend is talking, and you realize you haven’t heard half of what he said? It calls into question our ability to be good listeners and friends.

The irony is that we are probably more disconnected than ever – from life, family, friends, and in some ways even reality. Social media sharing shouldn’t be a measure of activity and involvement in life, nor should the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Unfortunately, many people seem to care more about these fleeting moments of “sharing,” especially today’s adolescents and young adults who have always had the internet, rather than true relationships and connections. As a result, young people don’t fully understand how to be a real friend or develop a real relationship through direct communication.

Wilderness Therapy for Adolescents: Learning to Reconnect

Withdrawal from family, friends, and hobbies is a sign of both internet addiction and depression. Internet addiction or overuse should be taken seriously as it can often be an extension of other issues, such as depression. As real relationships crumble, internet activity, social media, or virtual gaming can continue to take on more importance.

Pacific Quest relationships

It is a complicated situation, and therapy is one way to be able to understand how the internet became to be so important. Why did someone trade real connection for a virtual community? At Pacific Quest wilderness therapy, young adults and adolescents get an opportunity to get away from technology, learn to live without it, and learn what it means to be part of a real community. By working together in Pacific Quest’s organic gardens, they cultivate life skills as well as connections and relationships with others.

Pacific Quest offers students a chance to learn to reconnect because knowing how to properly communicate and listen are important for future success in both personal and professional relationships. Real sharing takes place. No amount of social media sharing or virtual world activity will ever be able to teach that.

Parent's Guide to Internet Addiction and Overuse

Greater Awareness of Behavioral Addiction & Internet Addiction

internet addiction gamingThe Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is released by the American Psychiatric Association and contains information on all mental disorders recognized by the US healthcare system as well as their diagnostic criteria. The latest edition, released last year, includes two interesting changes. First, the section describing substance-related and addictive disorders now includes gambling disorder. Second and perhaps more interestingly, the DSM-5’s Section III now lists internet gaming disorder, which designates it as a condition that should be researched further.

Including internet gaming disorder is a result of evidence coming from research done in several Asian countries of young people’s internet habits and preoccupation with the internet and online gaming. Known as “gamers,” these young people – mainly young males – play online games compulsively and ignore other aspects of their lives to their detriment. That research plus others are suggesting that mental pathways are being rewired in those people who exhibit high levels of preoccupation with internet gaming, and they’re experiencing pleasure and reward in much the same way substance addicts do.

The DSM-5’s changes are important because, as a group, behavioral addictions aren’t recognized as mental disorders, but now the DSM-5 is beginning to acknowledge the negative compulsive behavior behind some actions and that it may have greater mental health implications than previously thought. These moves create awareness and hopefully lead young people to check their own habits – and seek help if the problem is bigger than they realized.

Wilderness Therapy Helping Teens Overcome an Unhealthy Relationship with the Internet

From digital detoxes – weekends away from all technology – to internet addiction treatment centers, people are offering help and people are seeking help for excessive internet use. Though the DSM-5 has limited internet gaming addiction criteria to online games, it doesn’t mean people (non-gamers) don’t struggle with internet addiction issues that could include general internet use, online gambling, and social media.

Teens and young adults may be more susceptible to internet addiction issues. They’ve never known a world without the internet. Also, internet addiction may likely stem from other troubles in their lives, such as identity issues, low self-esteem, depression, or even ADHD, because the internet offers an outlet or escape, and they have not yet developed healthy coping skills.

Internet usage issues can quickly become complex, so where one goes for help dealing with it is important.  Wilderness therapy has been able to help troubled adolescents and young adults struggling with a variety of issues. The wilderness therapy program at Pacific Quest integrates a highly clinical approach with the holistic, using traditional clinical therapy with experiential learning through horticulture therapy to achieve healing and change. Beyond giving troubled adolescents a chance to get away from the source of their troubles, Pacific Quest’s unique approach that includes individualized care plans means it is equipped to help those struggling with internet addiction and the additional issues that may have contributed to it.


Does Internet Addiction Cause Depression and ADHD in Adolescents?

wilderness therapyInternet addiction is a growing concern that has been getting the attention of researchers, scientists, and therapists alike. The growing body of data shows that cases of true internet addiction are still the minority but also that excessive internet use is definitely a problem for many people.

As people are becoming aware of the effects and signs of internet usage disorder or addiction, questions arise as to whether excessive internet use is causing other mental and emotional issues, such as depression and attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Internet addiction has many signs and symptoms, which are the same for adults as well as adolescents. Some of these signs may present themselves like those of depression or ADHD, such as mood changed, irritability, poor academic performance, etc. Studies have not yet conclusively determined whether internet addiction causes other issues, but findings have shown that adolescents with internet addiction are more likely to suffer from depression or have ADHD. Based on current information, it is more likely that adolescents troubled by depression or ADHD are turning to the internet as an outlet, and as a result of excessive time spent online, they develop internet addiction or at least a mild dependency on the internet, video games, and online activities.

Treating Internet Addiction through Wilderness Therapy

Internet addiction can be a complex situation; it may be the cause or result of other issues. Medication is a limited treatment – one that cannot necessarily help with internet addiction, so seeking therapy may be more important than ever in order to for helping troubled adolescents struggling with internet addiction in addition to depression or ADHD.

Pacific Quest wilderness therapy has been committed to helping troubled adolescents and young adults dealing with a variety of issues, including

Pacific Quest is unlike any other wilderness therapy program. Using a combination of horticulture therapy and traditional clinical care, students change from troubled adolescents into self-confident and empowered youths with the skills and tools to survive and thrive once they have transitioned back into their home and lives after Pacific Quest. Because the internet is a tool of modern everyday life, these skills can greatly aid adolescents in monitoring themselves and their internet behavior. Pacific Quest creates individual care plans; no one student is alike, nor are the issues each one faces. With those and its highly clinical and experiential setting, Pacific Quest is uniquely qualified to help complex issues, such as internet addiction plus the issues that fuel it.

College Students, Young Adults – More Susceptible to Internet Addiction?

wilderness therapy, group therapyWhile many people may over-use the internet and related technology, some succumb to internet addiction, a compulsive need to be online that overtakes other hobbies and personal responsibilities. It’s possible some situations could leave people open to relying on the internet.

College provides one of the first tastes of freedom and independence for today’s adolescents and young adults. Being young and still developing – physically, emotionally, and mentally, young adults in college could end up feeling overwhelmed. And while college can be a fun and adventurous time, it can also be stressful, scary, and lonesome. Making friends could be difficult, and the work load and responsibility could be more than they’ve handled previously, so they’re caught unprepared. For some students, this could lead to anxiety or depression; coupled with a lack of good coping skills, parental supervision and guidance, they may turn to the internet and online activities.

Online activities can become a source of pleasure, comfort, or distraction from the more stressful aspects of college life. Social media gives a sense of connecting through superficial friendships; “leveling up” in online gaming offers positive reinforcement and success in a community-like environment. The more dependent a person becomes the more likely internet addiction can take hold. Excessive internet use is more of a byproduct as the internet is a conduit for their sense of escape.

If an internet usage problem exits, college students’ school performance and grades suffer, and they withdraw from real relationships with family and friends, become irritable or feel guilty when not online, and neglect personal responsibilities and even hygiene.

Wilderness Therapy for Troubled Young Adults

If internet addiction has become a problem for an adolescent or young adult, there’s a range of treatment options:

  • Self-discipline
  • Digital detox: a weekend removed from technology and temptation
  • Therapy sessions
  • In-patient internet addiction treatment programs
  • Wilderness therapy

Wilderness therapy for troubled adolescents and young adults has become a more widely known source of help and is no longer considering only a last resort. Wilderness therapy is an opportunity to get teens and young adults away from the source of their troubles and to be put in an environment that

Pacific Quest is a well-respected wilderness therapy program that has been able to help troubled adolescents and young adults dealing with a variety of issues. Because internet addiction is less about excessive internet use and more about the underlying factors for why a person turned to the internet in the first place, Pacific Quest is well-equipped to help internet-addicted young adults determine their true areas of struggle.

Located on an organic farm in Hawaii, young adults who enter the program get away from technology and truly detox in a calming and supportive environment. Through horticulture therapy and both individual and group therapy sessions, they explore the root causes of their internet addiction, learn healthy ways to cope and deal with their emotions, and gain life skills to serve them once they exit Pacific Quest’s wilderness program.

From Internet Overload To Over- Eating And Eating Disorders

Can internet addiction be related to obesity and eating disorders?
Can Pacific Quest’s Outdoor therapeutic program offer assistance for internet addiction related eating disorders?

Since teens and adolescent have begun to spend a disproportionate amount of time using and abusing the internet, many recent publications have started to pitch a rallying cry against the increased pressure caused by social media, the growth of celebrity culture, and the rise of anorexia websites. While factual data supports an additional increase in childhood obesity and even that eating disorders are continuing to soar among teens and adolescents, is social media/internet addiction really to blame?

Maybe the truth has nothing to do with playing the blame game. Because, in reality, eating disorders are a result of a combination and culmination of factors that are built up over time. Peer pressure and identity can play a major part, as can relationships, family troubles and academic concerns.

That being said, we also know that the 24/7 nature of social media and rampant internet addiction places huge pressures on our children and young people, which in turn can lead to significant emotional issues (with a society increasingly bombarded with celebrities and airbrushed images which give an impossible view of what ‘beautiful’ is).

Over load, Over Eat, Over IT All

It’s no secret that many teens are big fans of video games and the Internet. But for some young people, what started as an interest in technology, a means of entertainment, or a way to keep in touch with friends may morph into a serious behavior disorder. Teen internet addiction is marked by a progressive loss of control over one’s ability to avoid, regulate, or limit a behavior. In this case, the behavior in question is spending time on the Internet and eating poorly. Poor nutrition (failing or refusing to eat in order to remain online) is one of the major symptoms associated with teen internet addiction.

Sitting in front of a TV or computer screen for hours, eating nothing but junk will lead to over-eating and obesity. While comfort eating is not harmful in moderation, if it becomes a habit, corresponding directly to Internet addiction and a sedentary lifestyle, it can lead to obesity, food addiction and binge eating.

The prevalence of obesity and concern about its impact on public health has grown dramatically in the United States. In most cases, obesity results from a caloric imbalance-the number of calories consumed exceeds the number of calories expended. Sedentary lifestyles and the wide availability of low cost, calorie dense foods contribute to this energy imbalance.

Outdoor Therapy At Pacific Quest Can Help

The Pacific Quest gardens offer a dynamic medium for therapeutic growth. Central to the therapeutic model is the experiential nature of the program and holistic approach to wellbeing.  The use of sustainable growth, horticultural therapy and gardening, focus on health and wellness, and peer culture, complement the individual treatment plan providing the foundation for developing personal awareness and cultivating tools for personal development teens and adolescents with eating disorders. The five pillars of health: nutrition, sleep, movement, breathing and the body/mind connection are taught, role modeled and practiced as cornerstones of daily living and the foundation of ‘Whole Person Wellness’.

At Pacific Quest, we believe what we put in our bodies directly affects how we feel. The Pacific Quest diet has been developed to provide needed nutrition; take advantage of locally grown foods in Hawaii, and to allow for creativity and enjoyment for our young adults. We teach the basics of nutrition and how the body uses food as fuel. Purified water and herbal tea are the only liquids provided and participants are taught how sugary diets contribute to fluctuating blood sugar levels that cause mood changes and energy crashes. Students learn how to cook and prepare food using the freshest and most natural ingredients.

The Unique Program for Outdoor Therapy And Healthy Eating At Pacific Quest

  • Pacific Quest is the only outdoor therapy program, which uses Horticultural Therapy to support increased emotional health and wellbeing for adolescents and young adults. Horticultural therapy utilizes organic gardening in conjunction with proven therapeutic modalities to meet specific therapeutic treatment goals. Pacific Quest is the only outdoor therapy program to utilize this cutting-edge, client-centered, treatment model to enhance social, cognitive, and physiological functioning with the primary goal of improving health and inspiring motivation for change.
  • Organic gardening provides a living community where a variety of vital life skills may be practiced, mastered and generalized long after a young person’s Pacific Quest journey.
  • Pacific Quest is not corporately or remotely owned. Owners/operators live near the program and work side-by-side with staff on-site.
  • Pacific Quest operates in a mild and temperate climate year-round in calm, lush and peaceful surroundings.
  • Pacific Quest operates on privately controlled land (not public land).
  • At Pacific Quest, all adolescents and young adults sleep indoors in simple, yet modern bunkhouses.
  • Sustainable, practical life skills (vs. rarely used survival skills) are taught, practiced and mastered. (These skills include but are not limited to: time management, goal setting, organizational, planning, community living, meal planning and cooking, personal hygiene and grooming).

Pacific Quest inspires struggling adolescents to realize their full potential; it is a place offering young people and their families hope, unconditional support, and a chance for a new life.

For more information about Pacific Quest’s outdoor therapeutic program call us at: (808) 937-5806