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Is Internet Addiction the New Trend in Addiction Treatment?

While some media sources are touting all the reasons why internet addiction is not only “a thing” but a very serious issue that many are living through without treatment, others are questioning the validity of the disorder. If we can become addicted to internet usage or electronic equipment, can we become addicted to anything? If so, how do we address it? What is the cure?

The Evidence of a Fad

A trend develops when all the elements fall into place and people glom onto an idea that is theoretical and turn it into a fact. Fad-like behavior is seen in:

  • Tons of media coverage
  • Blog and forum conversations on the subject
  • New businesses that pop up to serve the new “need”
  • The potential millions of people who may identify themselves with the trend

In fact, this blog post is just one more indication that a new trend is making waves: people are talking about it, so we’re talking about the fact that people are talking about and positing our own questions to fuel the discussion.

From Trend to Diagnosis

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM) is the final word on what is a disorder and what isn’t in this country. It’s used by insurance companies, medical professionals, and psychiatrics in every state to determine the best course of care for a patient. In it – as of yet – there is no mention of internet addiction or addiction to any form of technology, from use of the smartphone to video games.

Does that mean that internet addiction does not exist? Not necessarily. Every disorder has to be identified, studied, and understood before it is included in the DSM. We may just be at the beginning stages of identification: anecdotal evidence.

Are You Addicted to the Internet?

Internet addiction, thus far, has been defined similarly to drug addiction. You may experience:

  • Increased tolerance, or the need to use it for longer and longer periods in order to feel satisfied
  • Compulsive use, or using even when you
  • Cravings
  • Withdrawal symptoms, which may include irritability, insomnia, restlessness, and others
  • Choosing Internet use over other things in your life
  • Living with negative consequences due to your use of the Internet
  • Multiple attempts to stop or cut down that are unsuccessful

Behavioral addictions are definitely an agreed upon disorder and there are treatments in place to help people regain control. For example, compulsive gamblers can get help to stop gambling and compulsive shoppers can get help to stop shopping.

Do you think Internet use can be addictive? If so, do you think it’s an issue that can be addressed through treatment? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think.

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