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...

  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys singer Howie Dorough took to Instagram on Tuesday to marvel about climbing the famed Masada fortress with his band during their visit to Israel, where they will perform this week for the first time. The group’s second day of sightseeing in the Jewish state included the Masada hike, and taking a mud bath at the Dead Sea. A picture from the band’s official Twitter page shows the five singers covered in mud. While relaxing in the Dead Sea, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews US & Canada ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    A new book and its upcoming film adaptation tell the true story of how three former yeshiva students who habitually smoked marijuana scored a $300 million contract from the U.S. government to supply weapons for the Afghan Army, the New York Daily News reported on Sunday. Arms and the Dudes details how the Miami Beach potheads became “the most unlikely gunrunners in history,” according to the book’s author, investigative reporter Guy Lawson. The tale begins with Efraim Diveroli, nephew of [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    JNS.org – Natalie Portman, who directs and stars in the new Hebrew-language film adaptation of author Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness, says that despite Oz’s record as a vocal left-wing critic of Israel, her film is not political. Like the book on which it is based, Portman’s film is about a young boy at the time of the founding of the state of Israel. “I think the movie is very much about this very particular, specific family story. Of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.