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Internet Addiction is no Laughing Matter

The media loves to make political figures like Anthony Weiner and athletes like Tiger Woods the butt of every joke for their struggles with Internet addiction.  But in reality Internet addiction is no laughing matter, whether it includes pornography, gaming, social media or other compulsive behaviors on the Internet.  Just take for example the number of young  people who have died as a result of playing their favorite online games for too long and failed to go to the bathroom, sleep or eat just to keep going.  Granted, not everyone is dying from their online time, but Internet addiction can still take over your life to the point where dying might sound better than continuing on with your way of life.  However, a new program hopes to help those addicted to the Internet beat their hangup once and for all.

Bradford Regional Medical Center First to Start Treatment Program for Internet Addiction

Kimberly Young is a psychologist and the founder of a new program aimed at treating Internet-based addiction housed at Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania.  The program is a voluntary 10-day program and will admit up to four people at a time that have been diagnosed with a severe Internet addiction.  They’ll first undergo an extensive evaluation, then a “digital detox” where they won’t be allowed to use a phone, tablet or computer for 72 hours.  Patients will also attend therapy sessions and educational seminars to help them get their compulsion under control.  The goal of the program is not to keep patients off of the Internet for good, but to help them to integrate it into their life in a healthy way that allows for real face time in addition to their online time.  Unfortunately, the program will not be covered by insurance and carries a hefty cost of $14,000.

DSM-V Recognizes Gaming Addiction for First Time

This year, with the release of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, gaming addiction was recognized for the first time.  There still isn’t enough research on the disorder for it to be included in the manual’s main section of formally recognized “disorders” but for those who already suffer from Internet addiction, there is likely no question in their minds.  Kimberly Young says that the common profile for an Internet addict isn’t someone flashy or high profile like Woods or Weiner, but is likely a young, highly intelligent male who suffers from social awkwardness and low self-esteem.  These young men go online because they can be someone else and be admired for their skills, rather than having to deal with their low self-esteem and lack of social skills.  Overall, addictions to alcohol or drugs are more easily defined, while behavioral addictions can be more amorphous.  However, researchers believe that it will only be a matter of time before Internet addiction and other behavioral addictions that are characterized by increasing tolerance, mental and physical harm caused by usage/behavior, and well-defined withdrawal symptoms such as depression and anxiety, are categorized as true addictions.

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