Internet Addiction Counseling
There are no clear-cut definitions or defined causes of internet addiction among behavioral addiction treatment specialists. Mainly this is because internet addiction is a newer phenomenon; there are not many precedents.
However, that doesn’t mean that someone can’t have an addiction. As more research is completed around this topic it’s likely some clear-cut causes will emerge.
Effects of Problematic Computer Use
There are few actual researched-based definitions available. Additionally, you can divide internet addictions into categories – like online shopping addictions, an online gambling addiction, or cyber sex addiction.
That said, at the root of every addiction, whether it’s drugs, food, or computer addiction, there’s a common factor that suggests that the addiction is indeed an addiction, and not just a habit. That common factor is that the habit creates a negative impact on the person’s regular life. A real addiction negatively affects home life, interpersonal relationships, work, and emotional health. Often an addiction will negatively impact a person’s physical health as well.
Signs of Internet Addiction
Some signs of internet addiction include:
- A large preoccupation with being online. Often an individual will think a lot about their last session online, and be excited about the next time they can access the web.
- An individual needs to use the internet more frequently to get satisfaction from the activity.
- Feeling bored, upset, restless, moody, depressed or anxiety-ridden when they can’t be online.
- Becoming angry when someone needs the computer or refusing to share time – most common in households where there are shared computers.
- Forgets all about time when online.
- Can’t stop getting online, no matter how hard they try.
compulsive lying to friends and family about time spent online.
- Puts a job, relationship, or other responsibility at risk in order to continue to spend time online. For example, a person may cancel a date, miss a family dinner, or forget a work meeting because of their computer time.
- Uses the internet to escape frequently. In some cases the internet may be the only activity that calms an addicted and agitated person down.
- When online, or after an online session a person may feel a sense of manic depression, guilt, anxiety,
Breaking the Habit
Breaking the Habit of internet addiction can be hard because for some internet addicts, the internet becomes their major source of socializing. People who become addicted to the internet because of the social connections they make online often need counseling to break away.
Some online relationship activity can be useful and healthy, and many people utilize forums for advice or chats for relaxation, but when a person has many close online friends and no one to count on in the real world, problems can develop.
An internet addicted individual though, will develop highly emotional attachments to online pals or even online dates. Online relationships are attractive to some because it can feel less risky than meeting live people in person. Online friends allow people to escape their real lives and possibly fulfill their needs for emotional contacts that they don’t get in real life.
Some who are addicted to online relationships may even create pretend personalities or personas of themselves. This is actually a dangerous practice because often the people who create these fake lives are already low on self-esteem or desperately seeking the approval of others. Instead of seeking real help, say from a counselor, these individuals just re-make themselves online, while changing nothing about their real offline lives. This can lead to increased symptoms of depression and feelings of inadequacy.
Addiction Counseling Can Help
Some people may be predisposed to online addictions; much like one can be predisposed to an alcohol addiction Someone with the right mix of an addictive personality, life stressors, and poor emotional health could get addicted if the Internet happens to also fall into their life during this time. When this happens, addiction counseling can help them to find a way out. To learn more about how counseling can help or to make an appointment, please call my office.