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Dr. David Greenfield
Source: Courtesy of Odyssey Behavioral Health
Dr. Greenfield is the founder and medical director of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine where he teaches Behavioral Addiction Medicine and supervises residents in psychiatry. He is a leading authority on Internet and technology addiction and author of numerous articles/book chapters and the book Virtual Addiction which in 1999 rang an early warning regarding the world’s growing Internet Addiction problem. Dr. Greenfield participates with the national and international psychiatric community by sharing his expertise through lectures, research, and various publications. He holds advanced training and board certifications in Addictions, Addiction Medicine, and Clinical Psychopharmacology.
Dr. Greenfield lectures throughout the world, and has appeared on CNN, Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, The Today Show, Fox News, ESPN, NPR and HBO. He’s been featured in U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, People, Time, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The Economist.
Dr. Greenfield’s recent work is focused on the neurobiology of compulsive Internet, Smartphone, and screen use. He is credited with popularizing the variable reinforcement (slot machine model) of behavioral addictions and the dopamine-behavioral addiction connection.
Is there a type of addiction you have had success treating?
Yes, and we are quite proud of the fact that our retreat program at the Greenfield Recovery Center is dedicated solely to the care and treatment of Internet and Technology Addiction clients, including: video game addiction, excessive screen use, social media addiction, Smartphone addiction, as well as screen behaviors, such as You Tube, porn, and other content. The basis of the program is tailored to the specific causes and problems associated with Internet and Technology addiction and the unique etiology, course, comorbidities, and co-occurring conditions often seen with this diagnosis. Frequently, clients who are looking for services for Internet addiction present with other issues such as ADHD, ASD, and Social Anxiety which we would address concurrently as needed.
What one or two factors distinguish your programs?
We deal only with Internet and Screen addictions although we can also address other psychiatric and psychological issues that are either contributory or a result of an individual’s Internet use disorder. Our strength lies in the program is evidence-derived and based on over 20 years of clinical work, research, and publishing of Dr. David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UConn School of Medicine. The program is the culmination of the treatment of many with Internet and Technology Addiction and can provide an even more focused approach due to the availability of detox, group format, and residential components. We have a dedicated, competent team assembled to treat this emerging addiction issue.
Is there a misconception about your center that you would like to address?
I suppose one of the potential misconnections is around how behavioral and process addictions operate and the fact that they deal with the same brain reward pathways as any other addiction; at times there is a misconception that there must be an ingested substance to produce an addictive pattern, when in fact, addiction is not simply about physiological dependence alone, but rather a complex interplay of biological, social, and psychological factors that produce an addiction, much of which exists in the limbic system of the brain. All addictions have the same underlying processes—whether behavioral or substance-based.
What type of person is well-suited to attend your center?
Any patient who is experiencing a primary addiction to the Internet and screen-based technology is potentially a good candidate for The Greenfield Recovery Center treatment program. We are not talking about someone who simply spends a couple of hours a day online, but rather a person whose Internet and screen use has escalated to the point where it is interfering with their life balance. Typically, these individuals are spending large amounts of time on screens consuming a variety of content, including social media, video gaming, You Tube, porn, or Smartphone. Sometimes the excessive use consists of mindlessly spending endless amounts of time scrolling and surfing the Internet with no topic or content in mind.
What would you say is the most difficult obstacle people face in battling an addiction?
Addiction often functions as a solution to pain or other symptoms; the addiction (Internet, drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.) serves to activate the reward circuits in the brain, elevating dopamine. The cascade of neurobiological, social, and psychological effects of these processes can eventually lead to an addiction syndrome that is well-entrenched, becoming a problem unto itself. Addictive behavior starts out as a means to manage emotional or circumstantial pain, such as depression, anxiety, relationship issues, fears, boredom, etc., and then ultimately creates a secondary issue that piggy backs on the initial issues that were being self-medicated. Overcoming the habitual pattern of the addiction, along with how it functions to medicate us can be challenging, but ultimately freeing.
Source: Odyssey Behavioral Health