Like anything, the internet can be addictiveThe internet has done much to spread information quickly to a vast audience, thank you modern technology! But while it may be an asset for most, there are those who have taken things to far – actually becoming addicted to the internet – using it to meet people, check facebook and email, play games, gamble and even watch porn. But like eating, it’s something we need to do, but what happens when the situation’s gone too far?
Creating the first internet addiction treatment centerThe folks in Pennsylvania found the situation serious enough to create the country’s first inpatient treatment for internet addiction, headed by renowned internet addiction expert, Psy.D. Kimberly Young, who has studied the addiction since 1995.“Back then, people laughed when I told them what I did,” said Young in the article. “But nowadays, internet addiction is finally being taken seriously and has even become something of an epidemic in countries like China and Taiwan.”
The treatment processThe hospital-based treatment program is housed at the Bradford Regional Medical Center in Allegheny County, where clients are welcomed to an intensive ten-day “digital treatment and stabilization program,” according to an online CBS News, Philly, article. Facilitated by a multidisciplinary medical team, the program includes a 72-hour ‘digital detox’ with no computer or internet use. To some so entrenched, it may seem like freedom. To others the stress can be daunting – like one of Young’s outpatients, who claimed he chewed Styrofoam cups and punched walls to get him through.Since internet and gaming addictions have been recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5) last May, “Gaming Disorder” is now noted in section III of the manual, meaning it is in a section requiring more research. In a Fox News interview, the American Psychiatric Association found evidence that when one is engrossed in internet gaming (or other types of chronic internet use), “certain pathways in their brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict’s brain is affected by the substance,” said Dr. Allen Frances, chairman of DSM-IV and professor emeritus at Duke University -who is not wholly convinced it’s a mental health disorder. But then again, according to the source, he’s critical of process addictions in general.
Internet use mirroring drug useNonetheless, believers have noted that in Internet Use Disorder (IUD) -as some refer to it- those stricken will experience the release of dopamine in the brain’s pleasure centers and will also experience the phenomenon of tolerance- needing more and more of the behavior to get the desired “lift” the activity produces. When the activity is withdrawn, there is a withdrawal similar to that experienced by marijuana addicts, which may include depression and irritability. IUD addicts may lose interest in normal activities and become withdrawn. They may use the internet to escape from life’s stressors, forgoing normal friendships and interactions. They may further escape reality by concocting pseudo personas and living virtual realities.
There have actually been deaths caused by compulsively using the computerA couple in Seoul, South Korea, were convicted of starving their infant to death because of their gaming addiction in 2010. A Beijing man died of exhaustion after a three-day gaming binge, eating little and pausing only to use the bathroom. Jason Russel, an American, was diagnosed with “reactive psychosis” when he went “over the top” with his Web documentary about African warlord Joseph Kony. Other cases where this obsessive-compulsive addiction has caused serious harm show this condition should be taken seriously. The Bradford Center’s program will accommodate four adults at a time (no one under 18) who follow the curriculum concurrently. The clients will be evaluated psychologically (many have undiagnosed co-occurring personality or psychiatric disorders), attend group therapy sessions and will learn ways to minimize internet use and avoid problematic applications.“[Internet addiction] is a problem in this country that can be more pervasive than alcoholism,” said Young. “The internet is free, legal and fat free.”If you know someone suffering from an internet or other process addiction, consult the professionals at Intervention Services, Inc. and find out what options are available for you or your loved one.
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