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online addictions

 

How serious an impact does your chosen problem have on quality of life? What could you do to lessen the impact in your life or the lives of loved ones?

 

Internet addiction is classified as an impulse control disorder. Internet addiction can cause individuals to develop an emotional attachment to on-line friends, activities and game worlds.   Online connections may be a way for some individuals to form a connection with people that they may not be able to achieve in the real world.   Individuals may also spend hours researching interests, or “blogging” which is akin to keeping an online journal.  Social media sites where people can get “likes” or “followers” are especially addictive.  These sites “feed” people’s emotional egos.  There are even some individuals who thrive on “trolling,” or the practice of deliberately making offensive or provocative comments on posts with the aim of upsetting or eliciting an angry response from other individuals.   When the individual “trolls” they get an emotional “high” and pleasure from the upset they cause. 

Some of the warning signs of Internet addiction may be the unrelenting preoccupation with thoughts about the activities the individual has been doing online.  Some examples may include, thinking about when the next time they can log into their game can be, or how long until they can check Facebook.  Additionally, the amount of time spent on the internet increases, and efforts to cut back usage fail.   The individual may even suffer withdraw, and feel restless, moody, depressed or irritable. 

Internet addiction can cause serious problems related to work, relationships, and even make emotional disorders worse.  Individuals addicted to the internet may lose track of time while on-line and end up losing or not being able to keep a job.  Internet addiction “does not involve the use of an intoxicating drug and is very similar to pathological gambling.”  (Unity Point Health, N.D.) Some gaming websites or on-line casinos may even charge money, which can cause great financial burdens to those who cannot resist.  When an individual is addicted, they may seek the online world over a real human, which in turn may end a relationship or cause neglect of other individuals.  In some cases, this may even go as far as parents neglecting their children.  In 2010, “a computer-addicted couple let their real-life baby starve to death while they raised a virtual daughter online.” (Mail Foreign Service, 2010) Individuals addicted to the internet may lie to conceal the extent of time spent on the internet, or how much the thought of the internet consumes them.  Additionally, some may use the internet as a means to escape emotional problems such as depression, anxiety or guilt and may never seek professional therapy. 

Depending on the severity of addiction there are a few ways to lessen the impact.  Teaching moderation to children would be a good start and promoting more “real-world” experiences such as outdoor activities, clubs, or events.  Going to a gaming convention, or going on a Pokemon Hunting expedition may be ways to achieve these.  If the addiction seems to be more severe, professional help should be found.  According to Unity Point Health, which is an organization for Addiction Recovery, “the first step is to determine if there is a problem.  A Certified Addictions Counselor trained in identification and treatment of Internet addiction can effectively perform an assessment to determine what level of care is most appropriate.” (Unity Point Health. N.D.)

The organization even offers free, confidential assessment if you call the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery at (800) 522-3784.  An assessment can be completed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are always welcome.  

 

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