Getting Help for an Internet Addiction
Internet addiction disorder, sometimes abbreviated as IAD, is also known by other names, such as Internet overuse, pathological computer use, and problematic computer use. Dr. Ivan Goldberg originally proposed IAD as a psychiatric disorder in 1995 based on the description of compulsive gambling. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V doesn’t recognize Internet addiction as a disorder, but it does list it as a condition for further study.
The American psychiatric community continues to debate the classification of IAD; however, many treatment centers are currently available for treating related compulsive activities. Call us at to make the transition back to a lifestyle free of Internet addiction.
Understanding Internet Addictions
The concept of Internet addiction has become more widely accepted since 2000, primarily due to the fact that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for some to distinguish between online and offline life. Experts in addiction medicine take varying stances in classifying Internet addiction as a psychiatric disorder. The American Medical Association decided in 2006 that it would not recommend that Internet addiction be included in the DSM-V, saying further study was needed. This includes a specific definition of overuse that differentiates Internet addiction from problems such as self-medicating for other disorders. Internet users are typically intimidated by the new technology at first but gradually begin to feel a sense of exhilaration over their ability to navigate applications quickly. This explains why sufferers of IAD often describe themselves as open-minded, bold and outgoing.
How to Diagnose Compulsive Web Surfing
The lack of inclusion of this problem in the DSM means that no formal diagnosis of Internet addiction exists in the United States. Dr. Jerald J. Block argued in a 2008 paper that the diagnosis of Internet addiction was complicated by the fact that 86 percent of the subjects in his study who displayed symptoms of Internet addiction also exhibited other mental health disorders.
A 2009 study in the European Journal of Radiology suggests that the structural changes in the brains of Internet addicts are similar to those suffering from chemical addictions. A study appearing in a 2009 issue of Cyberpsychology and Behavior reports that 25 percent of Internet user met that study’s criteria for Internet addiction within the first six months of use.
How to Recognize an Addictive Internet User
The Internet addiction test is described in the 2012 publication “Clinical Assessment of Internet-Addicted Clients” by Kimberly S. Young. This test provides a set of key characteristics for pathological use of the Internet. The Internet addiction test classifies the subject’s impairment due to Internet addiction as mild, moderate or severe. It consists of 20 questions related to the subject’s Internet usage, with each question having a score of one to five. The total score on the test therefore ranges from 20 to 100, and a higher score indicates a higher level of Internet addiction. Clinicians primarily use the Internet addiction test for those in inpatient and outpatient treatment.
Steps You Can Take to Help Someone With a Computer or Internet Addiction
Helpguide.org provides the following tips for helping someone who is addicted to a computer or the Internet:
- Introduce the Internet addict to other people who handle their use of the Internet reasonably.
- Serve as a good role model for the Internet addict by properly managing your own use of computers and the Internet.
- Support a person’s desire for change if it appears that he or she is an Internet addict.
- Talk to the person about your concerns that he or she may be an Internet addict.
- Get the person involved in interests that aren’t related to the Internet.
- Encourage an Internet addict to seek professional counseling.
Please call to discuss treatment options for someone who may be addicted to the Internet.
Talking to Someone With Online Addiction Problems
One of the most important things to remember when talking to Internet addicts is that you should listen more than talk. Listen without criticizing or interrupting, even when you don’t agree with the behavior. Try to understand what the addiction is like from the addict’s point of view, and be consistent by ensuring that your words agree with your actions. For example, don’t say that you think someone has an Internet addiction and then play an online game with that person.
Be predictable in your words and deeds regarding Internet addiction. Internet addicts can exhibit erratic behavior, especially when they feel stress. Your predictable behavior can reduce that stress and help them reduce their Internet usage.
Adolescents and Teens
Adolescents often become addicted to the Internet as they become less dependent on their parents. Helpguide.org provides the following tips for parents of Internet addicts:
- Encourage other interests and social activities.
- Talk to your child about underlying issues.
- Monitor computer use and set clear limits.
- Get help.
You can get children away from the computer by exposing them to social activities such as team sports. Find out if your child is using the Internet to deal with stress caused by life changes, such as divorce or problems at school. Ensure you follow the same limits on Internet usage that you set for your child. It’s also important to get an authority figure to provide advice on using the computer too much because adolescents often reject advice from their parents.
Learning to Cope With Internet Addiction
The most important step in coping with an Internet addiction is admitting the issue to yourself. You should also tell your family members about your addiction so they can help you. It’s particularly difficult to deal with an Internet addiction when you need to use the Internet for work or school. This may require you to only access the sites you need, rather than the sites you use for entertainment.
Instant messaging programs and social networking sites are important to avoid if you’re an Internet addict. You may also benefit by only accessing the Internet from public sites that place restrictions on your usage. Contact us today at to get more information on recovering from an Internet addiction.
How to Treat Internet Dependency
An Internet dependency often results from the lack of accountability or limits regarding Internet usage. The most common strategies for treating a dependency on the Internet include cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, and software that limits the user’s time on the Internet. Residential treatment centers that specialize in weaning patients from the use of computers are also becoming more common, with typical programs ranging in length from 30 to 60 days.
Deciding Between Internet/Computer Addiction Solutions
Cognitive behavioral therapy consists of a specific set of steps that help you change the way you view your Internet usage. This allows you to stop your compulsive behavior by finding healthier ways of dealing with the emotions that cause you to use the Internet excessively. Group therapy is also a possible treatment for Internet addiction. These sessions should take place in person rather than in online chat rooms.
Where to Find Computer/Internet Addiction Treatment for a Friend or Family Member
Internet addiction is still a fairly new problem, so it may be difficult to find dedicated facilities that specialize in this form of compulsive behavior. Many treatment centers that treat Internet addiction also handle a variety of other behavioral problems. Some 12-step programs may treat Internet addicts, and therapists who provide couple’s therapy often deal with patients who are addicted to cybersex. A therapist may also treat patients with a range of compulsive behavioral problems. Find treatment centers for Internet addiction in your area by calling us today at .