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Should Addictive Tech Come With a Health Warning?

[Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
edited February 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
http://www.newscientist.com/blog/technology/2008/02/warning-this-technology-may-prove.html


Now, this is for discussing the idea, not the article (I'm including it because I just copied and pasted the headline).

So, I thought about it, and I think that the answer is yes. Trick is you have to figure out a way to be a bit objective on deciding whats addictive and whats not. Just how habit forming is too much.

I think policy like this would have some very interesting side effects. Namely, to be fair about applying the scale, existing technology should be rated as well. Seeing some sort of habit forming rank on your TV, your coffee maker, your cheeseburger, your car. What to exclude? Should your bed be rated, for how much you need to use it? Your door, the air you breathe? Obviously the last two dont count, but the line must be drawn somewhere.

But anyway, I think that a rating on certain things would be quite informative. People become addicted to things, some things are more addictive than others (gambling is more addictive than doing chores), and so I see no underlying reason not to think of it as a health issue. It would just be inconvenient, the ratings would become quite controversial, and if anything just overly informative. People might not want to know just how dependent they are on things in general.

If a decent system could be devised then I'd be all for it, I think consumer information on products is key.


Discuss

[Tycho?] on
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Posts

  • MedopineMedopine __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2008
    How would you devise a decent system, if that is possible?

    Games themselves are addicting - it's hard to tell which ones moreso than others I think. I guess I would concede MMO's are addicting as a genre.

  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    There must be some way to do it semi-objectively. People can know that a person is playing WoW too much, you can tell when that person is [getting] addicted. You just need a system thats quantifiable. It would be related to time spent using that thing. How frequently you use it. How easy is it for that person to lessen their usage of it. How its affected your schedule (you'll spend less time doing what to accommodated your usage?). Probably some more factors you could throw in.

    ragesig.jpg

  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Uh, addiction is a human behavior that can be applied to anything.

    39kEWYh.jpg
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    :|

    Should we put addiction warnings on baseballs or novels or vaginas?

    Also: Plenty of people get addicted to doing chores. It's called OCD.

    freefallagentad_zps635a83ed.png
  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    If any activity/product is addictive for healthy persons, I for one would not mind warnings & educational campaigns explaining the possibility of distress. I don't think it can do any harm making people aware that it is possible to become dependent on something as fear in this case may be a decent deterrent. The idea of having a "degree of addictiveness" indicator doesn't seem bad at a glance too, assuming we can actually measure such a thing, which is really doubtful.
    However, I would never, ever, *ever* side with any form of prohibition of said product/activity without regard of social costs even if addictiveness rate is 99%. That 1% should be able to enjoy what they wish the way they wish without being made criminals.(that was a bit of an extreme example...)

  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    :|

    Should we put addiction warnings on baseballs or novels or vaginas?

    Also: Plenty of people get addicted to doing chores. It's called OCD.

    Of course not. We should simply MAKE VAGINAS ILLEGAL!!!

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    If anything, one should just put it into school circulum.

    "Today kids we're going to talk about addictive behavior. Last week we talked about chemical addictions, like with alcohol and tobacco, today we're going to talk about psychological addictions. Here, watch this video about Billy the Nymphomaniac."

    --

    You can make them illegal, but I'll still J-walk all over'em.

    freefallagentad_zps635a83ed.png
  • Wonder_HippieWonder_Hippie __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2008
    Uh, addiction is a human behavior that can be applied to anything.

    I'm not tempted to dare esomebody to tattoo "WARNING" on their cock. Not at all.

    Spoiler:
  • MatrijsMatrijs Registered User
    edited February 2008
    Addiction isn't necessarily a bad thing. Consider: you are, by any reasonable definition, addicted to food, water, air, socialization, sleep, and so on. It's being addicted to the wrong things that we find objectionable.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    If I was addicted to those things I wouldn't be so angry about having to do them to stay alive.

    Seriously, go to hell, hunger.

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  • MatrijsMatrijs Registered User
    edited February 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    If I was addicted to those things I wouldn't be so angry about having to do them.

    I kind of imagine people who are addicted to heroin wish they weren't addicted to heroin.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Trust me, if not for the whole going insane thing, I would not sleep.

    It's like saying that you're addicted to not stabbing yourself in the eye.

    freefallagentad_zps635a83ed.png
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2008
    Matrijs wrote: »
    Addiction isn't necessarily a bad thing. Consider: you are, by any reasonable definition, addicted to food, water, air, socialization, sleep, and so on. It's being addicted to the wrong things that we find objectionable.

    Yeah, that's not the definition of addiction.

    You are confusing addiction with necessity.

    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • whitey9whitey9 Registered User
    edited February 2008
    ege02 wrote: »
    Matrijs wrote: »
    Addiction isn't necessarily a bad thing. Consider: you are, by any reasonable definition, addicted to food, water, air, socialization, sleep, and so on. It's being addicted to the wrong things that we find objectionable.

    Yeah, that's not the definition of addiction.

    You are confusing addiction with necessity.

    Yeah I really wish people would stop doing that. It totally derails the conversation train. And there is a big difference between someone who likes sex and someone who is a nymphomaniac or someone who likes getting drunk and alcoholics.

    llcoolwhitey.png
  • MatrijsMatrijs Registered User
    edited February 2008
    1: the quality or state of being addicted <addiction to reading>
    2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

    The only difference between "necessity" and "addiction" is that the substance in question is "known by the user to be harmful."

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    The difference is that if you abstain from a necessity you DIE.

    If you abstain from an addiction you just get bitchy.

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  • whitey9whitey9 Registered User
    edited February 2008
    Matrijs wrote: »
    1: the quality or state of being addicted <addiction to reading>
    2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

    The only difference between "necessity" and "addiction" is that the substance in question is "known by the user to be harmful."

    Regular intervals + hard to quit + dependence =/= Addiction

    I breathe at regular intervals. It's hard to not breath. I'm dependent on it. Am I addicted to breathing? No, because that's absolutely fucking retarded.

    I can understand how at a really ridiculous glance and total misunderstanding of the concept you could get that idea. People can quit addictions. Nobody has ever been able to successfully 'quit water'. Does that mean that water is the most addictive substance on earth?

    It's nonsense. Let it go.

    llcoolwhitey.png
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2008
    Matrijs wrote: »
    1: the quality or state of being addicted <addiction to reading>
    2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

    The only difference between "necessity" and "addiction" is that the substance in question is "known by the user to be harmful."

    You missed the underlined parts.

    compulsive: caused by or suggestive of psychological compulsion; "compulsive drinking"
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

    Our need for food and water cannot be defined as compulsive.

    We also don't gain tolerance to food and water.

    So yeah, you're wrong. They are completely different things.

    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • Raiden333Raiden333 Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Matrijs wrote: »
    1: the quality or state of being addicted <addiction to reading>
    2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

    The only difference between "necessity" and "addiction" is that the substance in question is "known by the user to be harmful."

    ITT: Sophism.

    camo_sig2.png
  • AresProphetAresProphet everyone into position Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Matrijs wrote: »
    1: the quality or state of being addicted <addiction to reading>
    2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

    The only difference between "necessity" and "addiction" is that the substance in question is "known by the user to be harmful."

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but Webster's isn't the DSM-IV. Try boiling down a laundry list of symptoms and characteristics (the diagnostic for addiction) into a concise two-sentence synopsis. Yeah, it doesn't work.

    People are not addicted to air, food, water, etc. Psychologically speaking there are none of the defining behaviors associated with addiction, with the exception of "we are biologically driven to seek them out" (paraphrasing). Addiction isn't just "dependence" it's way, way more than that. Tolerance, for one thing: do you need more air with each passing day just to survive? More food? More water? If you don't increase your "dose" of air do you get agitated, or are you perfectly happy with the same dose your lungs have always given you? And no, your "tolerance" to new and exciting foods that become boring after eating them for a few dozen meals doesn't count, there's another term for that which I can't be bothered to look up in my notes.

    Also, the lack of "known by the user to be harmful" (which is a point many psychologists take issue with in the DSM-IV, by the way). You can make a good case that some addicts, despite not being aware of the harmful nature of their addiction, are still addicts.

    There's one key thing that your Webster's definition omits: the addiction interferes with the addict's normal life. Eating and drinking and breathing do not. Gambling, drugs, and excessive gaming and drinking do.

    If that isn't enough, and you want to dismiss the well-founded arguments of both cognitive and behavioral schools of psychology (based, by the way, upon decades of research) the biological psychologists have the trump card: addictive substances and behaviors lead to increased dopamine activity in certain parts of the brain. This activity doesn't show up when people breathe.

    In short, there's a pretty good working definition of addiction that psychology has come up with, and in no way, shape, or form does "Addiction" encompass our dependencies on food, drink, oxygen, and sleep.

    But you can get the whole checklist for Addiction filled out with video game addicts.

    everyone into their place
  • MatrijsMatrijs Registered User
    edited February 2008
    Matrijs wrote: »
    1: the quality or state of being addicted <addiction to reading>
    2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

    The only difference between "necessity" and "addiction" is that the substance in question is "known by the user to be harmful."

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but Webster's isn't the DSM-IV. Try boiling down a laundry list of symptoms and characteristics (the diagnostic for addiction) into a concise two-sentence synopsis. Yeah, it doesn't work.

    People are not addicted to air, food, water, etc. Psychologically speaking there are none of the defining behaviors associated with addiction, with the exception of "we are biologically driven to seek them out" (paraphrasing). Addiction isn't just "dependence" it's way, way more than that. Tolerance, for one thing: do you need more air with each passing day just to survive? More food? More water? If you don't increase your "dose" of air do you get agitated, or are you perfectly happy with the same dose your lungs have always given you? And no, your "tolerance" to new and exciting foods that become boring after eating them for a few dozen meals doesn't count, there's another term for that which I can't be bothered to look up in my notes.

    Also, the lack of "known by the user to be harmful" (which is a point many psychologists take issue with in the DSM-IV, by the way). You can make a good case that some addicts, despite not being aware of the harmful nature of their addiction, are still addicts.

    There's one key thing that your Webster's definition omits: the addiction interferes with the addict's normal life. Eating and drinking and breathing do not. Gambling, drugs, and excessive gaming and drinking do.

    If that isn't enough, and you want to dismiss the well-founded arguments of both cognitive and behavioral schools of psychology (based, by the way, upon decades of research) the biological psychologists have the trump card: addictive substances and behaviors lead to increased dopamine activity in certain parts of the brain. This activity doesn't show up when people breathe.

    In short, there's a pretty good working definition of addiction that psychology has come up with, and in no way, shape, or form does "Addiction" encompass our dependencies on food, drink, oxygen, and sleep.

    But you can get the whole checklist for Addiction filled out with video game addicts.

    I definitely accept the strict psychological definition of addiction as being separate from basic biological needs like breathing, eating, and such, but that's not how "addiction" is being used in this thread. It's being used in the informal, "habit-forming" sense. Consider the following quotes:
    I think policy like this would have some very interesting side effects. Namely, to be fair about applying the scale, existing technology should be rated as well. Seeing some sort of habit forming rank on your TV, your coffee maker, your cheeseburger, your car. What to exclude? Should your bed be rated, for how much you need to use it? Your door, the air you breathe? Obviously the last two dont count, but the line must be drawn somewhere.
    Should we put addiction warnings on baseballs or novels or vaginas?

    Also: Plenty of people get addicted to doing chores. It's called OCD.
    You just need a system thats quantifiable. It would be related to time spent using that thing. How frequently you use it. How easy is it for that person to lessen their usage of it. How its affected your schedule (you'll spend less time doing what to accommodated your usage?). Probably some more factors you could throw in.

    At the very least, we are talking about two very different definitions of addiction.

  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    There must be some way to do it semi-objectively. People can know that a person is playing WoW too much, you can tell when that person is [getting] addicted. You just need a system thats quantifiable. It would be related to time spent using that thing. How frequently you use it. How easy is it for that person to lessen their usage of it. How its affected your schedule (you'll spend less time doing what to accommodated your usage?). Probably some more factors you could throw in.
    Define: too much? 3 hours per day?
    12 hours per day?

    Something in betweeeeeeeen

    Elendil wrote: »
    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
  • AresProphetAresProphet everyone into position Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    The "definition" you're talking about is, in this thread, firmly rooted in either sarcasm or false information. Witness:
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    So, I thought about it, and I think that the answer is yes. Trick is you have to figure out a way to be a bit objective on deciding whats addictive and whats not. Just how habit forming is too much.

    I think policy like this would have some very interesting side effects. Namely, to be fair about applying the scale, existing technology should be rated as well. Seeing some sort of habit forming rank on your TV, your coffee maker, your cheeseburger, your car. What to exclude? Should your bed be rated, for how much you need to use it? Your door, the air you breathe? Obviously the last two dont count, but the line must be drawn somewhere.

    People can become clinically addicted to the behavior of watching television. People can become clinically addicted to caffeine as a substance. There is much debate as to whether people can become clinically addicted to junk food, but there's no evidence for it as far as I know.

    You cannot become "addicted" to driving in the same sense of the word. You cannot become "addicted" to breathing in the same sense of the word. These are the things he was discussing. There's no reason to put "may be addictive" warning labels on things that you cannot become addicted to. Put them on televisions? Maybe, but as far as i know the incidence of TV addiction is rather low. Whether or not they belong on video games is another matter, but the fact is that yes, people can become addicted to video games. In the clinical, capital-A Addiction sense of the word.

    To use "addiction" when discussing driving, eating, and breathing is at best misinformed and at worst outright deceptive. Dismissing that as "well we're just using two different definitions" is absurd. One definition is addiction. One definition is not-addiction-but-something-else. Call it "habit-forming" if you will, but that's in an entirely different league than addiction.

    Also, here:
    Uh, addiction is a human behavior that can be applied to anything.

    Outright wrong, for the reasons I outlined above. It's hard to tell if he's being flippant or serious, but it's a false statement either way.
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    :|

    Should we put addiction warnings on baseballs or novels or vaginas?

    Also: Plenty of people get addicted to doing chores. It's called OCD.

    Again, maybe serious, maybe sarcastic. If Incenj is dismissing the idea that games can be addictive, as though playing baseball and having sex being addictive are absurd (actually there are sex addicts, and no we're not talking diagnosed nymphomania. They're two different things) then he's also wrong. If he's being sarcastic, I don't think I need to say anything more.

    And no, OCD is not a chore addiction. I'm sure Incenj knows that, but I can't risk a pedant picking nits.
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    There must be some way to do it semi-objectively. People can know that a person is playing WoW too much, you can tell when that person is [getting] addicted. You just need a system thats quantifiable. It would be related to time spent using that thing. How frequently you use it. How easy is it for that person to lessen their usage of it. How its affected your schedule (you'll spend less time doing what to accommodated your usage?). Probably some more factors you could throw in.

    The DSM-IV just specifies that it interferes with their normal life, their social relationships, work, school, things like that. I could dig the damn thing up but I'm lazy.

    Basically, if gaming makes you lose sleep, lose friends, lose your job, drop out of school, pick any of the above, you're addicted.

    Can it be addictive without negatively impacting your life? Would it even matter? I think that depends on what brand of psychologist you talk to: a functionalist would say no, while a neuropsychologist would run all kinds of tests and probably say yes.

    From a practical standpoint, if a product can cause a user to become addicted, it's better to put a warning label on it and inform the consumer than to just leave it up to chance. Whether or not they become addicted to it is then their call.

    And we don't even have to bring in "habit-forming" and other addiction-lite phrases (the tobacco companies loved that one, "habit-forming." They got to comply with regulations without using any nasty words with negative connotations) to get to a reasonable answer. We know that video games can be addictive.


    You've all seen the seizure warnings on boxes and in game manuals, right? Games can cause seizures. In some ridiculously low percentage of the population, but it doesn't hurt to put the warning label there. do people not play games for fear of having seizures? Not unless they're excessively paranoid.

    Same deal with an addiction warning label. Gaming may be an addictive behavior to some people. End of story, nothing really changes, and the people raising an outcry get to feel better about themselves.

    everyone into their place
  • MatrijsMatrijs Registered User
    edited February 2008
    I suppose my main objection would be the dilution of the term. I tend to think "addiction" ought to be something people really fear, and I think applying it to something relatively benign like cheeseburgers or television weakens people's aversion to "addictive" substances. Let's keep it restricted to drugs, gambling, that sort of thing.

  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I think the line as to whether something should have a warning should be whether it is physically addictive.

    Psychologically people can get addicted to virtually anything that gives them pleasure. People become addicted to food, people become addicted to sex, people become addicted to gambling, there are even people who compulsively feel the need to do excercise to the point of becoming a health risk.

    I think it's a different paradigm. On the one hand with physical addiction you have something that will affect anyone. Virtually anyone who uses cocaine or heroin on a regular basis will become addicted to those things.

    On the other hand not everyone who gambles will become a compulsive gambler and bet their life savings, even if they do it on a regular basis. Not everyone who plays WoW will drop out of school and quit their job to go raiding 7 days a week. Not everyone who eats at McDonalds once or twice a week is going to become the 500lb guy on Discovery Health. These are things that affect small numbers of people that do these activities, and they are generally indicative of a mental illness in the person, not saying that they aren't really diseases, but the activity is not specific to the disease.

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2008
    Matrijs wrote: »
    Addiction isn't necessarily a bad thing. Consider: you are, by any reasonable definition, addicted to food, water, air, socialization, sleep, and so on. It's being addicted to the wrong things that we find objectionable.
    I find this unutterably ignorant. Things required for survival and health are, by definition, not fucking addictions. They are biological requirements, and it boggles my mind that people are apparently so divorced from their basic animal nature that they can treat their basic life needs as psychological weaknesses. You are embodied. Deal with your body's nature and requirements, its weaknesses and strengths. Habit-forming behaviours related to basic life needs as well as luxuries, and chemical dependencies, are quite another thing, and you can still obsess about them to your heart's content. Just don't go making statements like this, its really really silly.

    tmsig.jpg
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    If I were emperor of the world, I would declare a five-year moratorium on the use of the word "addiction." Partly because of shit like this:
    Matrijs wrote:
    I tend to think "addiction" ought to be something people really fear

    No. The last thing we need is to intensify the negative stigma associated with addiction. It already feeds into issues of denial and prevents people from seeking help; it already interferes with the positive interactions with family and community that are necessary for recovery; we don't need to make it worse. Addiction already has a weird moral connotation. Look at the addictions commonly discussed in popular discourse; they happen to sync up nicely with the Christian deadly sins. It's no coincidence that the most popular lay treatment for addiction (12-step) is heavily steeped in pseudo-Christian ethics. It's not really possible to scare your sheep back into the flock by talking about the common vices (sex, gambling, drink), you have to talk about them in terms of addiction and promote the portrayal of these abstract concepts as demons which shall rule your soul. (Don't get me started on the word "addict" either - it's the Scarlet Letter 'A' of our time.)

    The main reason behind this moratorium, though, is aptly illustrated by Ares' posts above. Oh, don't get me wrong, I largely agree with him (I differ on a few details, but those are mostly academic). The problem is that when we go too far into discussions of what addiction is and what it is not; what is addictive and what is not; we end up getting involved in arguments which are largely semantic. So smart people like Ares end up wasting their time splitting linguistic hairs instead of asking important questions like: how can we best help people?

    Instead, all behaviors, from taking drugs to having sex to cutting yourself, can be analyzed by asking the following questions:

    Is the behavior harmful?
    If so, is it harmful in any amount or only when taken to extremes?
    How harmful is the behavior?
    How likely is a human being to take the behavior to extremes?
    What are the risk factors that increase the propensity of a human to take the behavior to extremes?
    How common are those risk factors?

    If you look at a lot of "addictions" through that lens, it helps you cut through a lot of the bullshit that permeates discussions like these.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I think the line as to whether something should have a warning should be whether it is physically addictive.

    Psychologically people can get addicted to virtually anything that gives them pleasure. People become addicted to food, people become addicted to sex, people become addicted to gambling, there are even people who compulsively feel the need to do excercise to the point of becoming a health risk.

    I think it's a different paradigm. On the one hand with physical addiction you have something that will affect anyone. Virtually anyone who uses cocaine or heroin on a regular basis will become addicted to those things.

    vizzinigq9.jpg

    The difference between "physically addictive" and "psychologically addictive" is neither binary nor nearly as important as people make it out to be.

    See, there is no such thing as a psychological condition that does not have a physical element. The processes that control reward, motivation, habit, etc. are based in more-or-less well-known chemical and neurological processes. If you're addicted to anything that addiction is going to involve elevated dopamine or opioid response when the object of addiction is achieved and depressed response when the object is withheld.

    So what most people mean by "physical addiction" isn't that the opposite is not physical (as all addictions are on some level physical) but that the addiction has withdrawal effects that are experienced in the body - shakes, chills, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures, etc. We have a term that means "in the body" - "somatic". So instead of saying "physically addictive," say "likely to produce somatic withdrawal symptoms" because that language is far, far more precise.

    Now for a drug to start producing somatic withdrawal symptoms you have to take it on a regular basis for quite a while. You aren't going to start having somatic withdrawals from one weekend of meth or one week of hard drinking. Habitual use precedes "physical" addiction. Many addicts, especially alcoholics, never reach the point of somatic withdrawal but still make messes of their lives anyway. So we're back to looking at the habitual use in much the same light as we would a non-"physically" addicting drug. Why did this person start drinking so much for so long? Why did they start using meth? Why were they having sex with four or five different partners a week? Why were they playing WoW for fifty hours a week?

    Besides that, the existence or absence of somatic withdrawal symptoms does not correlate to habit-forming potential. There are drugs with produce somatic withdrawals but are not habit-forming - examples include the anti-seizure medication Zonegran and the antidepressant Effexor. There are drugs that are habit-forming but produce no somatic withdrawal symptoms or very weak ones - marijuana and cocaine. The presence of somatic withdrawal symptoms may present an additional complication for doctors treating the addict, but they are not as relevant from a sociopolitical perspective as people like to think, and they are certainly not a line in the sand across which we can easily categorize drugs or behaviors in a binary fashion as "physically addictive" or "psychologically addictive." It's a multifaceted spectrum.

    So we've come back around to dropping the loaded parlance and asking the simple questions I proposed in my post above for any given technological product. How harmful is the product? In what amount? How likely are people to take it to extremes? I don't care if you're talking about cell phone radiation or Warcraft, those are the questions that need to be asked.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • KetherialKetherial Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    i think what all of you are arguing is pretty much meaningless. for labeling and warnings, does it really matter what people think "addiction" means?

    even if world of warcraft or any tech or game or whatever was labeled with a big fucking skull and crossbones, no one would take it seriously and people would still buy it.

    shit, if i saw a label like "world of warcraft is addictive and may be hazardous to your health", i'd think it was a clever way of advertising the product.

  • MatrijsMatrijs Registered User
    edited February 2008
    Feral wrote: »
    If I were emperor of the world, I would declare a five-year moratorium on the use of the word "addiction." Partly because of shit like this:
    Matrijs wrote:
    I tend to think "addiction" ought to be something people really fear

    No. The last thing we need is to intensify the negative stigma associated with addiction. It already feeds into issues of denial and prevents people from seeking help; it already interferes with the positive interactions with family and community that are necessary for recovery; we don't need to make it worse. Addiction already has a weird moral connotation. Look at the addictions commonly discussed in popular discourse; they happen to sync up nicely with the Christian deadly sins.

    As much as I recognize the pervasiveness of Christianity in Western culture, I think you're missing the mark here. Narcotics abuse doesn't really fall neatly into the deadly sins, and narcotics is where we see the most prevalent use of the word "addict."

    I guess I should clarify: I don't see a moral imperative surrounding addiction. I want people to be afraid of addiction because I'm tired of hearing about and seeing people die of various cancers due to smoking. If more people don't start smoking because they're afraid they'll get addicted, I see that as a net benefit to society.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Matrijs wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    If I were emperor of the world, I would declare a five-year moratorium on the use of the word "addiction." Partly because of shit like this:
    Matrijs wrote:
    I tend to think "addiction" ought to be something people really fear

    No. The last thing we need is to intensify the negative stigma associated with addiction. It already feeds into issues of denial and prevents people from seeking help; it already interferes with the positive interactions with family and community that are necessary for recovery; we don't need to make it worse. Addiction already has a weird moral connotation. Look at the addictions commonly discussed in popular discourse; they happen to sync up nicely with the Christian deadly sins.

    As much as I recognize the pervasiveness of Christianity in Western culture, I think you're missing the mark here. Narcotics abuse doesn't really fall neatly into the deadly sins, and narcotics is where we see the most prevalent use of the word "addict."

    True... but it does mirror a lot of the predominantly Christian teetotaler rhetoric from a century past. Sure, the Bible didn't specifically tell you not to drink or not to use drugs, but establishment of intoxication as a vice and the moralization of addiction to intoxicants has historically carried a strong religious component, at least in the US.
    Matrijs wrote: »
    I guess I should clarify: I don't see a moral imperative surrounding addiction. I want people to be afraid of addiction because I'm tired of hearing about and seeing people die of various cancers due to smoking. If more people don't start smoking because they're afraid they'll get addicted, I see that as a net benefit to society.

    I don't think that deliberately intensifying the fearsomeness of the word "addiction" is going to have the result you're looking for. I strongly suspect that all it would do is make it more likely that people who are addicted (to, for example, nicotine) are simply going to lie to themselves about it.

    I'd say that the smoking problem is one part instant-gratification-versus-delayed-consequences (who cares if something's going to give you cancer in 50 years), one part anti-intellectualism (doctors and scientists have been wrong before, who's to say they're not wrong now?), and one part stupid stubborn rebelliousness (don't tell me what I can't put in my body!).

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • AresProphetAresProphet everyone into position Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I think the line as to whether something should have a warning should be whether it is physically addictive.

    Psychologically people can get addicted to virtually anything that gives them pleasure. People become addicted to food, people become addicted to sex, people become addicted to gambling, there are even people who compulsively feel the need to do excercise to the point of becoming a health risk.

    I think it's a different paradigm. On the one hand with physical addiction you have something that will affect anyone. Virtually anyone who uses cocaine or heroin on a regular basis will become addicted to those things.

    On the other hand not everyone who gambles will become a compulsive gambler and bet their life savings, even if they do it on a regular basis. Not everyone who plays WoW will drop out of school and quit their job to go raiding 7 days a week. Not everyone who eats at McDonalds once or twice a week is going to become the 500lb guy on Discovery Health. These are things that affect small numbers of people that do these activities, and they are generally indicative of a mental illness in the person, not saying that they aren't really diseases, but the activity is not specific to the disease.

    There's not really a distinction between physical and psychological addictions, except that one is a substance addiction and one is a behavior addiction. In terms of brain chemistry, they work in much the same fashion: cocaine and heroin just stimulate the release of dopamine directly, while addictive behaviors cause a "natural" release of dopamine that has exactly the same effect.

    It's easy to see a disctinction between the two, but if you want to talk about things like treatment and therapy they're identical. In both cases you need to wean the addict off his addiction, it's just easier to say "don't snort coke up your nose" or "don't stick a needle into your arm" than to say "don't bet on the horses anymore, and also don't play online poker, and don't go to casinos."

    But for either the addict or the person treating him, they're identical. The distinction is illusory.

    I agree, in principle, with the notion that certain substances have a higher rate of addiction than behaviors. But then you get things like alcohol, which some people handle quite normally and others get rabidly addicted to with only "casual" drinking. Or you have gambling, which is designed to make people addicts: some people can lose a couple times at blackjack and stop, but the design of the behavior itself is intended to make you addicted. This is why people keep playing, because a normal person, after losing money a few times, would rationally decide to stop playing if he knows the odds are always against him (and they are). That people persist in gambling, even on an infrequent basis, is a result of its design to be addictive.

    There's a strong argument that games, in particular MMOs, are designed to be addictive. The nature of the game is such that people will continue to pay $15 monthly to play. This design philosophy is inherently addictive. Does everyone who plays them become clinically addicted? Certainly not. But it isn't especially surprising that some people do. There's research out there confirming that even in non-addicts, the same dopamine pathways in the brain activate as in people who gamble, or take recreational drugs, or other things that we instinctively know are bad.

    The thing is that gambling and recreational drugs are, for the most part, inherently bad for you. If you hve loads of free time (for whatever reason) and spend most of it gaming, it's not bad for you. I'm a staunch proponent of the idea that regular gaming is a worthwhile mental exercise for all sorts of reasons. I'd even say that being a gamer, so long as it doesn't disrupt your life, is a good thing. But there's no arguing that, for certain personality types and predisposed persons, gaming can be addictive in the strongest sense of the word.

    I understand the reluctance to use "addiction" when referring to anything we cannot outright condemn for its negative effects on a person, but "addiction" shouldn't just be confined to stuff that will, in 9 out of 10 cases, ruin your life. It's a psychological condition. It's not a "life problem" or whatever. It's an actual psychological condition that can apply to quite a few things, it's both more serious than some people make it out to be and also less debilitating than the collective stereotype of the junkie-on-the-street leads us to think.

    Then again, I just realized I'm asking the public at large to hold a nuanced, informed opinion. Yeah, that'll happen.
    Ketherial wrote:
    i think what all of you are arguing is pretty much meaningless. for labeling and warnings, does it really matter what people think "addiction" means?

    The problem is that most consumers are not people whom this forum accurately represents.

    From a business standpoint, you want as few warning labels as possible on your product. It unnecessarily turns away consumers. If your goal is to sell your product to as many people as possible (you know, business) then you don't want a big ol' sticker warning people that it may do them harm.

    But even from an ultra-conservative, must-protect-the-children-at-all-costs perspective, you don't want warning stickers slapped on every damn thing in Wal-Mart either. It desensitizes people to real risks, makes them subconsciously put "this toy may be a choking hazard to infants" in the same league as "this product will give you goddamn cancer." This is bad for everyone.

    We can debate whether or not "this game may be addictive" belongs in the same league as "this game may give you seizures" or "these cigarettes will make you addicted and maybe kill you." I certainly don't think it's on par with the effects of nicotine (if you thought heroin was bad for you...) but there's a decent argument for something to advise people that yes, you can become addicted to games. It may make some people aware of their own addictions and seek help. It may make people reconsider spending more time than they can afford playing online games. It may make parents re-evaluate how much time they leave their children alone with just a video game for a babysitter. None of these are bad things.

    It may also cause a slight decline in game sales, which isn't a great thing either. The trick is finding a way to do it effectively, inform the consumer without scaring them. And it'll take better minds than one psych student to come up with a way to do that.

    everyone into their place
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Super Moderator, Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited February 2008
    What? No.

    [While watching popcorn in the microwave]
    Maddie: "Look Riley, the bag's as big as your head now!"
    Riley: "Hahaha, yeah!"
    Maddie: "Look, now it's as big as your butt!"
    Riley: "Omigosh, it looks just like my butt!"
  • Torso BoyTorso Boy Registered User
    edited February 2008
    If video games come with an addiction warning, what about alcohol and caffeine?

    Or...I mean, if I wanted to put forth an effort, I could probably argue the same warnings would have to apply to hand cream and kleenex.

    Rent wrote: »
    So that's what having no idea what you are talking about looks like
  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2008
    Uh, addiction is a human behavior that can be applied to anything.

    Thread over.

    No, it shouldn't come with a health warning, because as Fuzzy rightly says, any product or act can be addictive to the right/wrong personality. That is a problem of the personality and for the individual, not the product. We currently put 'addictive' health warnings on products that are physiologically addictive, because 99.99% of the population respond to those physiological addictions, therefore the health of consumers is certain to be affected.

    This is just another idiotic suggestion that results from the equally idiotic meme that we have of applying the term 'addict' to most anyone, when most of the time what we mean is 'lacks willpower'.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    There's a strong argument that games, in particular MMOs, are designed to be addictive. The nature of the game is such that people will continue to pay $15 monthly to play. This design philosophy is inherently addictive. Does everyone who plays them become clinically addicted? Certainly not. But it isn't especially surprising that some people do. There's research out there confirming that even in non-addicts, the same dopamine pathways in the brain activate as in people who gamble, or take recreational drugs, or other things that we instinctively know are bad.

    The thing is that gambling and recreational drugs are, for the most part, inherently bad for you. If you hve loads of free time (for whatever reason) and spend most of it gaming, it's not bad for you. I'm a staunch proponent of the idea that regular gaming is a worthwhile mental exercise for all sorts of reasons. I'd even say that being a gamer, so long as it doesn't disrupt your life, is a good thing. But there's no arguing that, for certain personality types and predisposed persons, gaming can be addictive in the strongest sense of the word.

    Well, the article in question is talking about mobile devices like PDAs and Blackberries, not online games.

    I know that when somebody mentions "addiction" and "tech" in general proximity to one another, people immediately think, "Warcraft!" but that's not what the article is directly about.

    In any case, I think the first step would be to establish whether or not PDAs or Blackberries are inherently harmful, as you say. AFAIK there is no evidence that the radiation emissions from cell phones or wifi or bluetooth devices are at all harmful - they're too low power and likely don't penetrate tissue very far. So I doubt that you're going to get anything from using your Blackberry all day except maybe a bit of carpal tunnel.

    However, I do think that MMOs are addictive by design. Not deliberately by design, mind you, i don't think anybody's sitting around rubbing their hands going, "How can we make this property addictive?" But I do think that there are design decisions that MMO developers could make to make their properties more conducive to healthier playing habits without sacrificing profitability. (Think about it: a paying subscriber getting through content at two hours per day is going to be a paying subscriber for twice as long while using half the server and network resources than a subscriber playing four hours a day - assuming the content is interesting enough to remain compelling.)

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    The issue with that of course is that with the option still available to play for four hours a day, if it's actually an addicting thing (videogames, that is), they'll play it. Or, you know, play two games for two hours a day each.

    I do find it personally hilarious that Blackberries and other PDAs could have an addiction quality.

    Wouldn't the addiction be to whatever you have routed to them, not the device itself? Are you addicted to checking your work email, or addicted to checking ANY email from a PDA? And seriously, someone define addiction here, and I'm sure dozens of non tech examples of the same behavior can be found.

    Games are a little different (in the same realm-ish as TV) as they're an escape. PDAs keep you in reality, whatever reality that may be. I can't see how the exact same behavior minus the tech device wouldn't just be called a workaholic.

  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS
    edited February 2008
    The Cat wrote: »
    Matrijs wrote: »
    Addiction isn't necessarily a bad thing. Consider: you are, by any reasonable definition, addicted to food, water, air, socialization, sleep, and so on. It's being addicted to the wrong things that we find objectionable.
    I find this unutterably ignorant. Things required for survival and health are, by definition, not fucking addictions. They are biological requirements, and it boggles my mind that people are apparently so divorced from their basic animal nature that they can treat their basic life needs as psychological weaknesses. You are embodied. Deal with your body's nature and requirements, its weaknesses and strengths. Habit-forming behaviours related to basic life needs as well as luxuries, and chemical dependencies, are quite another thing, and you can still obsess about them to your heart's content. Just don't go making statements like this, its really really silly.

    Study/work habits in at least some sense function in the same way as addiction, though. This is the foundation of modern ADD treatment, the long-term objective of the medication is to make those habits, well, habitual. Then you don't need the drug anymore. Taking notes (for example) should get to be like smoking a cigarette, you do it almost without even realizing it.

    And honestly I need someone to find for me some things that can't become addictions in as broad a sense as we're talking about here before I agree that there's any call for warning labels on everything that can become an addiction in the same sense as the examples.

    DAMM
    Drunks Against Mad Mothers
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