With technology being such an integral part of modern life, it is no wonder that internet addiction has become a growing concern. We spend more and more time surfing the net, clicking on sites, shopping, gambling as well as gaming online, and our lives are starting to suffer the consequences of this kind of lifestyle.
What Is Internet Addiction?
Before we can look at what an internet addiction is, we need to define what exactly addiction is. Addiction can be defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.
When looking at internet addiction, it can, therefore, be defined as spending so much time surfing the internet, gaming, or gambling online or any other internet activity that it becomes harmful to your physical and mental well-being.
Internet addiction manifests primarily in four areas:
- Online gaming has become so problematic that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) recently added ‘internet gaming disorder’ as a disorder that needs treatment. The DSM warns that such “persistent and recurrent online activity results in clinically significant impairment or distress.” It adds that certain neural pathways are triggered just like a drug addict’s would be when ingesting their substance of choice. To put that comparison in perspective, there could be about 1 million more diagnosable dependent gamers in America than coke addicts.
- Online gambling also presents addiction problems, with gamblers often racking up thousands of pounds’ worth of debt monthly. Cara Vaggio of Safer Gaming states, “The issue of problem gambling has been on a gradual rise within Europe, with online gambling’s popularity spanning across at least 6.8 million consumers within the EU. Despite this growing matter, however, there remains a severe lack in the availability of addiction counselling courses across European universities specifically targeted at problem gambling.”
- Viewing pornography online is also a major problem in many households. Michael Halyard of MFT explains, “Modern pornography is more addictive than traditional pornography due to its easy availability, explicit nature, a wide range of images and video available, ability to access it on any handheld device or tablet, and the privacy that the experience offers. People can spend hours searching the internet on their computer or device for the newest or most hardcore pornography. This omnipresent availability makes it easy for people with addictive personalities to cross that indivisible line into addiction. For many adults, the moderate use of pornography can be a healthy part of their sexuality. For porn addicts, however, pornography can be as damaging as gambling, alcohol, or drugs, and can take over a person’s life.”
- Social media like Facebook and Twitter can also take over an individual’s life. Catharine Paddock (Ph.D.) quotes a Norwegian researcher, Andreassen, who says: “We have also found that people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face.”
How Do I Know If Someone Is Addicted to the Internet?
The nature of internet addiction is that the addict spends unhealthy amounts of time on the internet to the detriment of his/her health and mental well-being. When you notice changes in behavioural patterns and physical health due to the amount of time spent in front of the computer or on a phone or tablet, it is time to seek help.
Where Can I Get Help?
Liberty House Clinic offers a specialised service where we address and treat internet addiction. There are many therapies available to treat the addiction, as well as the underlying issues that the addict has. Just as with a substance addiction like drugs or alcohol, internet addiction stems from an underlying emotional requirement that needs to be addressed as well as resolved to relieve the addict’s need to use an addiction to escape the emotional distress that he or she is experiencing.
At Liberty House Clinic, we follow the 12-step programme that was originally designed by Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as various other therapies to help the addict learn to express him/herself in a safe and secure environment that offers the support he or she needs to deal with the underlying emotional issues and needs that they are experiencing. Our friendly staff is trained, skilled and experienced in dealing with the challenges that the addict may be facing and are able to guide and support the addict through the process of healing.
Your first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem and that you need help. Then you need to give our helpline a call so that our friendly counsellors can guide you through the process of getting the help that you need to overcome this addiction.