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Treating Internet Addiction: A Trending Idea

Treating Internet Addiction: A Trending Idea

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In the past few years many media sources have been advertising various reasons why internet addiction is not only a reality, but a serious issue that many are living through, suffering without treatment. Some would even go as far as to say we as a society are facing an epidemic of internet addiction, and one of the worst parts is that some still fail to validate its severity or acknowledge the need for treatment.

Social media in its influence and variety of forms has become another major contributor to this growing trend, and with that the understanding of the behavior as an actual disorder is becoming more sound and accepted. So what are some of the ideas in treating internet addiction, and how is this condition more commonly identified?

Internet Addiction ‘Trending’

A trend develops when all the elements fall into place and people latch onto an idea that is theoretical and turn it into a fact. A trend tends to take a turn for the worst with fad-like behavior that can be found 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

The more time you spend online, the more you will see about the growing concern with… well, spending too much time online. It is a subject that frequently finds its way into conversation, especially in the ‘Generation D’ or digital generation. We communicate primarily through technology, and we follow trends and ‘trending topics’ to feel connected and informed. In this way internet addiction can exist in our lives without us even knowing.

From Trend to Diagnosis

‘Trending’ activities can quickly become a problem when they are pushed to the extreme, the same as how drinking alcohol may not be injurious to everyone, but to alcoholics it can be deadly. Internet activity is not necessarily dangerous for every, but with the many ways it has become part of our world with smartphones and social media we run a greater risk of becoming dependent on it.

Internet addiction or social media addiction are often described with a lot of symptoms that are familiar compared to drug or alcohol addiction. Some of those signs include:

  • Preoccupied with the Internet
  • Need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction
  • Repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use
  • Feeling restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when cutting down on Internet use
  • Risked or lost significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet
  • Using the Internet as a way of escaping from problems
  • Neglecting sleep to stay online
  • Being dishonest with others
  • Weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities

Just the same with drugs and alcohol, someone with Internet addiction can be experiencing some but not all of these symptoms, but a lot of times there are particular patterns of behaviors. At the center of it often times is just a desire for an escape from reality.

Treating Internet Addiction

Already Internet addiction has been defined similarly to drug addiction, with symptoms and consequences. You may be wondering if something in your day to day life could qualify for Internet addiction. The most common forms of Internet addiction have been noted, such as:

  • Online Video Gaming
  • Online Gambling
  • Internet Infidelity
  • Sexting/Pornography
  • Social Media

Behavioral addictions are definitely an agreed upon disorder, and there are treatments in place to help people regain control in many cases. For example compulsive gamblers can get treatment that is there to help them stop gambling, same thing with compulsive shoppers.

Now we are looking at adding Internet addiction to that list. There are already several treatment facilities that acknowledge internet addiction, and for the future there are those looking into internet addiction and social media addiction for more effective ways to identify and treat these compulsions.

September 9th, 2013 America’s first hospital–based Internet addition program was established at Bradford Regional Medical Center in Bradford, Pennsylvania, and since then internet addiction and social media addiction have been treated with continued hope for innovation. Patients in this treatment program undergo an extensive evaluation and a “digital detox” that prohibits phone, tablet or access to the internet for at least 72 hours. Then they’re admitted to attend therapy sessions and educational seminars to help them get their compulsive internet addiction under control.

Behaviors that are obsessive and become compulsions are very much like addictions to alcohol or illicit drugs, with the ability to manipulate our lives and our feelings, while hurting our relationships and risking our health. Internet addiction and social media addiction are both their own brand of compulsive behavior, and the more we learn to understand them, the better off we can be healing. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588


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