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Help for Election Addicts

Recovery strategies for those coming down off a two-year campaign binge.

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After finally pulling that lever in the voting booth, many New Yorkers are going through post-election withdrawal. How do you cope without your constant Drudge drip, your nightly fix of Colbert, your online buddy Andrew Sullivan? Addiction specialists like NYU’s Dr. Samuel Glazer are helping campaign compulsives detox. “I have one client who’s clearly developed CNN dependence issues,” he says. “The election was taking over her life.” Here, a guide to five types of electoral junkie—and tips to ensure they get better.



Dataheads
These vulnerable nerds became slaves to number-crunching—scatter-plotting poll results, waging over-under bets on turnout figures, and impatiently re-explaining the electoral-college system to their cats, sometimes even with spreadsheets.
Favorite Dealers: Fivethirtyeight.com’s seductive statistician Nate Silver; CNN’s John King, whose compulsion to fondle his interactive touch-screen map bordered on perversion.
Expert Opinion: “Obsessive-compulsive behavior is at the core of any addiction,” says Glazer. “These people may find themselves ‘double-checking’ the numbers for a few weeks, but they’ll soon need to fill the void with something else.”
Recovery: Start monitoring inconsistencies in Starbucks’s new calorie counts.


Scandal Junkies
Even if they weren’t normally Perez Hilton readers, they were jonesing for John Edwards’s love-child photos or Trig gestation conspiracy theories.
Favorite Dealers: Gotchaholic Arianna Huffington, whose site at the end of the campaign hyped a rumor that McCain may have been involved in a fatal car accident. Expert Opinion: “People typically become addicted to something either soothing or exciting,” says Glazer. “Scandal is more of an upper,” perhaps analogous to crystal meth. An effective treatment, he adds, might involve spirituality.
Recovery: Repeat this affirmation: “Today, I move into the silence, and listen to the call of love instead of Joe Scarborough.”


Hope Fiends
Convinced that politics can be great (or, at least, unloathsome) again, they spent lost weekends photographing mini-dachshunds wearing HOPE buttons or browbeating friends to go evangelize in West Virginia.
Favorite Dealers: Will.i.am, whose inspiring music video, “Yes We Can,” racked up over 25 million Web views.
Expert Opinion: “They may feel a kind of psychological emptiness now,” says Glazer, “a low-level depression, especially if the idea of making a difference by voting was offsetting a sense of financial helplessness.”
Recovery: Apologize to those you’ve aggressively uplifted.


Palin Haters
The potency of her profound ignorance lured these addicts into a dark pit of self-destructive eye-rolling. They sputtered over her “real America” remarks, reveled in her humiliation at the hands of Katie Couric and the Montreal D.J.’s Sarkozy prank.
Favorite Dealers: Tina Fey.
Expert Opinion: “Addicts should talk through their behavior patterns with someone who’s survived the same addiction,” suggests Arnold M. Washton, a Manhattan addiction psychologist, “though it might be hard to find a recovered Palin addict this soon.”
Recovery: Reports that she thought Africa was a country will cause many a relapse.


Anxiety Relishers
These masochistic, defeatist liberals constantly tracked TV and online news in search of scenarios to feed their need for fear, until—overcome by migraines, stomach cramps, or a satisfying case of shingles—they’d finally flee their technology, convinced, once again, all was lost.
Favorite Dealers: Fox News and the New York Post, to see a world where Obama pals around with terrorists and Palin’s an energy expert.
Expert Opinion: “It’s important for recovering addicts to avoid new windows of opportunity,” says Washton, who suggests going off the grid for a while.
Recovery: Avoid excessive exposure to Keith Olbermann.

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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