In the Digital Age, a misunderstood and often invisible affliction lurks behind glowing screens. As technology entwines itself deeper into the fabric of our lives, internet addiction is becoming a serious issue around the world. Internet addiction blurs the line between harmless pastime and destructive compulsive behaviour and once you are locked in this virtual prison, it can be incredibly difficult to escape. Fortunately, there is real and effective help available and Linwood House has helped many people overcome internet addiction and take back control of their lives.
What is internet addiction?
Internet addiction is a type of behavioural addiction characterised by excessive and uncontrollable use of the internet. This compulsive behaviour typically involves spending a significant portion of your time engaged in activities such as social media, online gaming, shopping or consuming information, often at the expense of personal relationships, work and health.
Although internet addiction is not currently listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, research is currently underway to consider including it. This comes after a significant number of health problems have been associated with excessive internet use. Some mental health providers may classify internet addiction under obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or an impulse control disorder.
There are multiple subtypes of internet addiction including:
- Online porn addiction – spending excessive amounts of time accessing adult sites, chatrooms, or apps.
- Gambling addiction – compulsively gambling in online casinos or online bookmakers.
- Gaming addiction – playing online games to the detriment of the other aspects of your life.
- Compulsive information seeking – becoming obsessed with the idea of collecting and organising as much information as possible.
How does internet addiction develop?
Using the internet to interact with others, research topics, play games, or shop remotely can result in a rush of dopamine which is linked to the brain’s reward system. Over time, you may develop a tolerance to these dopamine surges, leading to a need for increased internet use to achieve the same level of satisfaction. Eventually this leads to you becoming dependent on the internet just to feel “normal”.
It is thought that a number of factors can then contribute to a psychological dependence forming, including:
- Unmanaged mental health issues
- Environmental factors such as stress or trauma
- Normalisation of excessive internet use from a young age
Some research also suggests that certain individuals have personalities which make them more susceptible to internet addiction.
Furthermore, the ever-present nature of the internet in modern society and the ease of access to various online activities contribute to the pervasive and compulsive nature of this addiction.
Do I have an internet addiction?
It can be difficult to reflect on your own internet usage given that so many people use computers for work or study. For this reason, there is no prescribed amount of healthy time to use a computer. Rather, it is important to assess how it’s impacting the rest of your life. If you find yourself exhibiting any of the following signs then it could indicate you are addicted to the internet:
- Being preoccupied with the internet
- Neglecting responsibilities in favour of internet use
- Isolating yourself in order to surf the web
- Unable to stop or cut down on your internet use
- Using the internet to cope with stress or negative emotions
- Continuing to use the internet despite the issues it’s causing
Impact of internet addiction
Being unable to control your internet use can have some significant and wide-ranging impacts on every aspect of your life. These include:
Career or Educational Issues
People who have developed an internet addiction are likely to have problems with school or work as they may prioritise this over essential tasks. Their punctuality, performance and reliability may suffer, leading to adverse consequences.
Spending so much time on the internet can leave little time for socialising and relationships with social media an inadequate substitute. This can lead people to develop social issues, difficulty relating to others and loneliness.
Sitting down, inside, often in the dark can have significant physical health issues. People who use the internet excessively often complain of back or neck issues, headaches, weight problems and vitamin D deficiency.
A preoccupation with the internet can result in lost productivity which can lead to financial problems. Additionally, many compulsive internet activities cost money, such as online shopping and in-game purchases.
What does internet addiction treatment involve?
Living with an internet addiction can be a lonely experience, both for the individual and their loved ones. Fortunately, rehab can help you to:
- Address the underlying causes of your internet addiction
- Overcome any mental or emotional issues that trigger internet addiction
- Develop a healthier relationship with the internet
At Linwood House, our internet addiction treatment programmes involve a range of evidence-based therapies, all designed to help you overcome internet addiction and build a new life in recovery.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is particularly effective for individuals recovering from internet dependency as it helps to address compulsive behaviour patterns and the thoughts and emotions that drive them. Additionally, our 12-Step programmes can provide a sense of community and judgement-free support for getting through challenging days in internet addiction recovery.
Everyone responds differently to different types of therapy which is why our internet rehab programmes involve a wide range of treatment approaches. For example, some people get the most benefits from group therapy sessions while others prefer one-to-one therapy.
The most important thing is that you are fully committed to your internet rehab programme and give 100% in every session.
How to get help with internet addiction
At Linwood House, we have years of experience helping people with internet addiction. We know how difficult it can be to imagine a life without using the internet, but we are confident that with our help, you can achieve a healthy relationship with it. Contact us today to find out more about how our internet rehab programmes can help you begin the journey to recovery.