Passages To Recovery Wilderness Rehab for Young Men Adds Internet and Video Game Addiction to its List of Treatment Specialties

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Clinical Director Lucy Taylor recently completed a certification in gaming addiction and is sharing her expertise with the staff and clients at Passages To Recovery.

Wilderness therapy is about stepping into the person you want to be.

Passages To Recovery is known for cutting-edge treatment of drug and alcohol addiction, but the wilderness rehab program for young men also treats a full spectrum of co-occurring mental health disorders. The latest addition to the program’s list of treatment specialties is video game and Internet addiction, which can have lasting physical, social and emotional effects if left untreated.

Passages To Recovery’s clinical director, Lucy Taylor, LPC, recently completed four separate certifications in online gaming, anonymity in online relationships, pornography and infidelity, and the psychology of Internet misuse. She trained under the guidance of a well-known professor in the field, Kimberly Young, PsyD, who works with the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery.

Since earning her certifications, Taylor has been training the staff at Passages To Recovery to identify and treat various forms of “screen” addictions. While most young people can enjoy video games, computers, Internet and cell phones in moderation, others are lured in by the fantasy, power, anonymity and freedom of the online world.

Compulsive gaming and Internet addiction are similar to other negative coping skills such as substance abuse. While anyone can become addicted to video games or the Internet, the typical profile is someone who lacks social skills or the ability to cope with difficult emotions or experiences.

Some of the most common signs of Internet and video game addiction include:

  •     An inability to control the amount of time spent gaming or on the Internet
  •     Isolation or withdrawal from family and friends
  •     Poor grades or skipping school or work
  •     Poor hygiene (failing to brush teeth, shower or take care of basic needs)
  •     Losing track of time and sacrificing sleep to play
  •     Giving up hobbies or interests to play games or spend time online
  •     Continuing to play compulsively in spite of negative consequences

“An Internet addict may spend as much as 15 to 17 hours gaming, creating an online persona or acting out in an irresponsible way,” explained Taylor. “Because the behavior fills an important need for the individual, without treatment a desire to play can quickly turn into a need to play.”

At Passages To Recovery, treatment of video game addiction and other compulsive behaviors begins with an assessment of the client’s patterns of use and the needs that are being met by gaming. The clinical team’s goal is to understand why the individual uses the Internet or video game to excess and to help them recognize the need for change.

“Most people abuse the Internet or video games to meet an underlying need,” said Taylor. “Our goal is to help our clients decrease stress and increase pleasure without numbing themselves or trying to fill a void through video games or the Internet.”

In wilderness rehab, young people live in small groups where they are able to practice new communication skills with guidance from a caring team of therapists and field instructors. As they grow accustomed to a world without technology, clients discover that real-life adventures can be as exhilarating as online experiences.

Using cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and other approaches, clients at Passages To Recovery develop new coping and interpersonal skills and find healthier alternatives to their addictive behaviors. Through relapse prevention planning and aftercare, these skills can be put to use as they transition back into life at home.

Because most people need to use computers and the Internet for certain purposes, such as job searches and school work, clients at Passages To Recovery learn how to use technology responsibly by setting reasonable time limitations and monitoring their use.

“Wilderness therapy is about stepping into the person you want to be,” said Taylor. “Our program is designed to build each individual’s self-esteem, help them experience success in their relationships, and introduce them to activities that fulfill their needs in healthy ways.”

About Passages To Recovery

Passages To Recovery is a wilderness-based addiction and substance abuse treatment program for young men ages 18 to 30. Beginning with a 40-day wilderness experience, which is followed by a stay in an onsite residential drug rehab facility, Passages To Recovery combines the best of wilderness therapy, residential addiction treatment, clinical assessments, 12-Step principles, and individual and group therapy.

Passages To Recovery is a program of Aspen Education Group, the nation’s leading provider of therapeutic education programs for struggling or underachieving young people. Aspen’s services range from short-term intervention programs to residential treatment, and include a variety of therapeutic settings such as boarding schools, outdoor behavioral health programs and special needs summer camps, allowing professionals and families the opportunity to choose the best setting to meet a student’s unique academic and emotional needs.

Aspen Education Group is a member of CRC Health Group, the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral care services in the nation. For over two decades, CRC Health has been achieving successful outcomes for individuals and families.

For more information, please call (866) 515-5202 or visit Passages To Recovery.

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Gil Hallows
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