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...

  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.