Posted tagged ‘addiction’

Jackpot Fever

March 30, 2012

I feel like recently I’ve been bombarded with the news of the $540M jackpot that has risen to record levels. It’s on billboards, the news, my morning radio talk show, and all over the internet. Initially, maybe a week or so ago, I was thinking, who cares, there’s always an ongoing jackpot…but then it started growing larger and larger. My morning talk show hosts were asking callers what they would do if they won the jackpot.

And suddenly, I found myself fantasizing about what I would do if I won. Would I tell anyone at first or have the sense to consult with a financial expert first? Would I quit my job? Would I give large chunks of it to family members? Would I go on a shopping spree? Would I upgrade everything (including car, condo, and most importantly shoes)?

I also, of course, began to wonder what it is that is making everyone so excited about this jackpot, which individuals presumably have extremely teeny-tiny odds of winning? The psychiatrist in me began to think about gambling as an addiction or impulse control disorder, which is easier. It is easy to write off gambling addicts who can’t leave the casino after hours and hours of sitting at the slot machines. But what about the average person, who is getting caught up in lotto fever?

I think there are probably a couple of things that drive people to buy lottery tickets despite the ridiculous odds. This article defines the current odds at 1 in 175,000,000! There’s probably better odds of getting into a plane crash, being attacked by a terrorist, and getting eaten by a shark. So despite the odds, what is turning rational people into thinking they actually have a chance?

Well, the first is probably the fantasy–just like me the other day, buying a ticket allows one to escape reality for a short period. And who doesn’t want to escape reality once in a while? My days are not extremely thrilling as a general rule. I think the other is entertainment. When I watched the Superbowl in February, I was bored to tears until my friend and I made a $10 bet (which I won, thank you very much). All of a sudden I was invested in the winner of a game I normally could care less about. The time passed more quickly, and I was perhaps able to enjoy the social gathering in a different way than usual. Same principle can be applied to the lottery; buying a ticket it makes life a little more entertaining and now there’s something to look forward to when it’s time for the drawing. A little excitement has been created, a small risk has been taken, and there is a sense of anticipation about the possibilities.

Finally, I would say the last factor that comes into play is one that I’ve brought up before–that of cognitive dissonance. Even though logically we know that the odds of winning are very low, we convince ourselves that “it’s only $1, so why not?” For some, however, that daily $1 adds up to a lifetime of disappointment and loss. For others, like me, there’s a momentary flash in my mind of those Jimmy Choo’s I’ve been eyeing. And that’s enough–I plan to purchase a ticket tonight. Wish me luck.


Keeping It Off

December 30, 2011

I found this NYT article yesterday about the difficulty of successful weight loss, and finally finished reading it today. I have been interested in this topic recently–the science behind weight loss. Partially I’m interested in this because there is increasing evidence that obesity has underlying biological factors that contribute to its epidemic; i.e. obesity is more like a disease, not a choice. The article is fairly long, but some of the more interesting points I found were the following:

1. There are hormonal changes after weight loss (lower peptide YY and leptin, higher ghrelin) that make it hard to keep the weight off (i.e. someone who used to weigh 150 pounds and now weighs 120 pounds, is different than someone who naturally weighs 120 pounds)

2. Some people have specific genes that make them more predisposed to eat higher calorie foods, and make it harder to lose and keep weight off

3. People who successfully keep weight off are the minority of those who try to lose weight, but they all have specific consistent habits, including tracking their food and exercise, weighing themselves daily, exercising daily, eating breakfast everyday, watching less TV, and not “cheating” on holidays and weekends

4. After weight loss, you are more susceptible to cravings than before (and this is shown on brain MRIs in research, and is some of the evidence behind obesity having similarities to addictions)

5. Knowing some of these things can help to improve ways of losing weight

Now after read this article I feel a bit more informed. It is easy to tell those who are obese to eat less and exercise more. While these tenets are still the core of achieving weight loss, we are starting to learn that not everyone has the ability or the genetics to do this things as effectively or efficiently. That being said, it’s not a reason to give. It may just be that we need to start approaching weight loss for people in a different light, for example slowing it down rather than speeding it up. Another reason to avoid those infomercials late at night!

Good luck and as always feel free to leave comments or feedback!

Amy Winehouse, A Picture of Addiction

July 24, 2011

I find it sad to be interested in this sort of news, but it’s kind of hard to ignore. This weekend Amy Winehouse was found dead in her apartment. And while the cause of death is still yet to be determined, it likely has something to do with her history of battling drug and alcohol use. Sadly her career seemed to peak a few years ago and she’s mostly been in the media for the chaos surrounding her life.

Although it’s sad, perhaps sometimes it’s better for someone who is having a hard time like this to die young. Perhaps the rest of her life would have been miserable. For me this is the only way to have it make any sense. We forget sometimes that addiction, like some chronic illnesses, can be terminal; hopefully Amy Winehouse is finally at peace.


May 22, 2011

It’s do easy to make excuses I’ve realized.  I haven’t blogged in a week or so, with the excuse that I was out of town at the APA.  The APA was great by the way. Although I was in Hawaii, I attended daily.   The most interesting topic I learned about was marijuana addiction, and marijuana’s possible medical uses.  It used to be thought there was no such thing as addiction to marijuana but no more.  There is apparently a small subset of users that can become addicted (about 9%).  That’s a good amount. Anyway I’m back.  I have lots of excuses not to write, but more reasons to do it.  So I’m back.  Trying to keep it short but sweet! 

Whitney Houston Back in Rehab

May 9, 2011

One of the first songs I ever sang karaoke was “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Whitney Houston really had some great hits back then and I am sad for her that she’s back in rehab. While I wouldn’t say I looked up to her as a role model, I did feel she was somewhat respectable as an actress and singer. Unfortunately her life has been riddled with drugs, violence, and chaos. She has been in and out of rehab over the years and is still having trouble staying sober. I know that addiction is extremely difficult to overcome. It is especially difficult for those that have little to lose, i.e. no job, no money, no family. Think about it, what’s the point of quitting, it’s not like they have something to look forward to. So you would think intuitively that it would be easier for celebrities to stay sober–they have a lot to lose, right? However, for celebrities, they have almost too much of a cushion to sustain their drug and alcohol use. Additionally the more trouble they get into, the more fame it brings. They’re also not used to being told no, and find the structure needed for sobriety almost impossible to sustain.

I think it’s important not to put too much hope into others’ sobriety; if our expectations are too high, they will almost surely be crushed. I wish Whitney Houston luck in her latest efforts, but I also won’t be surprised if the next time she’s in the news is for her latest relapse.

Will Whitney Houston stay clean this time?Market Research