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...

  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Residents of the Los Angeles Jewish Home give dating advice to a young Jewish man in a comedic video posted Monday on YouTube just in time for Valentine’s Day. Jonathan, an associate at the Jewish home, quizzes the senior citizens on an array of topics including having sex on the first date, kissing a girl, who should pay for dinner and whether online dating is a good idea. When the 28-year-old asks a male resident named Lee about his experiences [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Anyone who spent time in the Jewish Catskills hotels – especially those like me, who returned for decades – must see the new documentary,”Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort.” Not only will the film transport you back to the glory days of your youth and thousands of memories, but it will also make you long for a world that is now lost forever. I returned to Kutsher’s one last time in the summer of 2009, but by then, the [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Jewish Identity Lifestyle Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    JNS.org – Amid the numerous studies and analyses regarding Jewish American life, a simple fact remains: part-time Jewish education is the most popular vehicle for Jewish education in North America. Whenever and wherever parents choose Jewish education for their children, we have a communal responsibility to devote the necessary time and resources to deliver dynamic, effective learning experiences. The only way we can do this is by creating space for conversations and knowledge-sharing around innovative new education models. That also [...]

    Read more →
  • Commentary Featured Features Jewish 100 The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2014

    The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2014

    The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2014 ACADEMIA Alain Finkielkraut Moshe Halbertal Deborah Lipstadt Jacob Metzer Steven Pinker Tammi Rossman-Benjamin ARTS AND CULTURE Yaacov Agam David Blatt Leonard Cohen Gal Gadot Scarlett Johansson Ryan Kavanaugh Steven Spielberg Harry Styles INNOVATION AND ACTIVISM Meira Aboulafia Adina Bar-Shalom Nitsana Darshan-Leitner Daniel Gold Anett Haskia Ephrat Levy-Lahad Gabriel Nadaf Dumisani Washington GOVERNMENT Tony Abbott José María Aznar Ron Dermer Yuli Edelstein Abdul Fatah el-Sisi Stephen Harper Goodluck Jonathan Mitch McConnell Narendra Modi [...]

    Read more →
  • Features Jewish 100 Jewish 100, 2014: Bassam Eid – Voices

    Jewish 100, 2014: Bassam Eid – Voices

    Bassam Eid Palestinian human rights activist While Palestinians who demonize Israel as the sole reason for their woes receive no shortage of media invitations, those among them who spotlight their own leaders’ iniquities are far less in demand. Even so, the profile of Bassam Eid, the Director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, is thankfully continuing to grow. Eid’s latest campaign is for the overhaul of UNRWA, the UN refugee agency dedicated solely to the Palestinians, which he says [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.