Are You Addicted to the Internet?

July 23, 2012 11:56 am 1 comment

Young boys playing Nintendo Wii. Photo: wiki commons.

“Do you neglect household chores at home or school to spend more time online or video gaming? Do you block disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of the Internet or video gaming? Do you prefer excitement of the Internet or video gaming to intimacy with your friends or partner?”

These are just some of the questions from a survey on Internet and technology usage and addiction from reSTART, which calls itself the “nation’s first retreat center program specializing in problematic Internet, video game, and technology use.” Founded three years ago in Fall City, Washington, there have been forty-five people who have gone through the program.

So who, exactly, is an Internet addict? Just because you spend a lot of hours on the Internet does not mean you are an addict, said Hunter R. Slaton, Rehab Review Editor for The Fix, a popular website on addiction and recovery. Like any alcoholic addict, he said, you can have a drink every day and not be addicted whereas you can go on a binge once a month and be an addict. It’s all about the individual having control over their Internet usage. When you lose that control and feel powerless and very often your work, family, and social life is affected, you become addicted.

And what types of people are Internet addicts? Dr. Cash, educational director of reSTART, said that they are mainly young people who grew up with the Internet and that many are genetically predisposed to addiction because, it’s argued, the brain doesn’t produce enough dopamine. The addiction, she said, will also often derive from psychological pain, such as depression or a feeling of loneliness. One uses the addiction as a form of escape from that pain.

“The Internet is a wonderful, cheap way to run away from psychological pain,” she added.

Not by and large taken as a legitimate addiction, Internet addiction will invariably become more of a reality in our society as more people gain access to the Internet, its popularity increases with the rise in social media and its ability to do more daily tasks such as food and clothes shopping and banking online, and more people get access to Ipads, iPhones, and the like.

Dr. Cash tells of a man who came seeking help from the addiction at age twenty-eight. At the time, he’d been immersed in the online video game World of Warcraft since the age of nine. In college, he didn’t socialize at all aside from friends he’d made online and didn’t have any real relationships. Then after college, he lived in his mom’s basement and continued that trend. A therapist he was seeing recommended he come to reSTART.

“They are so much withdrawn from the world they are uncomfortable in the world,” says Cash of Internet addicts.

After his time in the program, he managed to get a job and a long-term relationship, but still struggled to make friends. And while he didn’t have a computer in his apartment, he had a relapse with his newfound Smartphone, which gave him access to the Internet at all times. He had hoped to use it for only a set period of time but became powerless to how long he was on it. However, he has since gotten the addiction back under control.

A typical week at the center includes the residences getting up at 7am, making their own breakfast, have a morning meeting to go into goals and let off steam. Three to four days a week they do cross-fit training and have therapy, both group and individual, and engage in work projects, reading and writing assignments. They also do yoga, mindfulness training, and table-top games. Twice a month, they do a backpacking trip into the wilderness and will also go hiking and canoeing. (And of course, residents aren’t allowed any sort of addiction device with access to the Internet.)

But as insurance doesn’t cover the program, unless you’re one of the lucky few who’ve gotten a scholarship, prepare to fork over $20,000 for 45 days of treatment.

For those without the money, Dr. Cash said they can get a loan or try to find a very low-cost therapist. Other suggestions include setting time limits online, installing accountability software, or coming up with some sort of 12-step program, said Slaton.

The irony: The treatments that exist are primarily online-based.

Slaton said he has received half a dozen such calls to The Fix’s helpline, which connect people to rehabs nationwide. But he noted that pales in comparison to calls for other addictions.

He recalled one young girl he interviewed whose addiction started in high school and carried over after college and into her office job in New York City. Ever since high school, she had become addicted to instant messaging, online gaming, and web browsing at one time or another. A therapist she spoke with suggested she stay online for only an hour a day and that she’d have to stay at work after hours for any time she went over that hour. Not able to commit, she’d end up at the end of each workday using the Internet, and as a result missing scheduled appointments, such as a date.

And it wasn’t that she was in denial that the problem existed, he said; she was well aware of the consequences of her actions. Rather, she just felt compelled to stay online.

The complex—and complicated—thing about Internet addiction is that it can serve as two addictions: Internet addiction by itself and addiction to porn, gambling, shopping, and video games for which the Internet serves as a convenient portal.

It is further complicated in that, like food addiction in which you must eat to live, said Slaton, many have jobs that require them to be online and use the Internet for social interactions. Slaton compared an Internet addict working in an office setting to that of an alcoholic working in a bar.

Like any addiction, “unless they hit some sort of bottom where their denial system is cracked, they’re not going to be motivated to change,” said Dr. Cash.

This article was originally published by the Jerusalem Post.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.