What is Internet Addiction Disorder?
Internet Addiction Disorder, which may also often be called Compulsive Internet Use (CIU) or Problematic Internet Use (PIU), is an addiction involving excessive Internet use that negatively affects one’s quality of life. Internet Addiction Disorder impacts a large portion of the population in both the United States and Europe; studies have shown approximately 8.2% of the general population suffers from this condition.
Internet Addiction Disorder has become a more widely accepted condition among medical professionals in recent years. With remarkable advancements in technology have come greater and more widespread fixation on the Internet. The Internet is practically omnipresent in many cultures around the world, making it more difficult to escape from the virtual world than it used to be. As a result, some people feel unable to control the amount of time that they spend on the Internet. Eventually, this may impact other areas of their lives and keep them from living a healthy, balanced life.
Signs of Internet Addiction
Internet use crosses the line from a healthy interest to an addiction with a few troubling signs:
- The individual has a preoccupation with the Internet and thinks about the Internet while engaged in other activities.
- The individual becomes moody, irritable, or angry when forced to stop using the Internet for a period of time.
- The individual needs to use the Internet for increasingly long periods of time to feel the same level of contentment from it.
- The individual has tried and failed to limit, reduce, and/or stop Internet use.
Other signs that are prevalent in people with Internet addiction include:
- A disinterest or neglect of personal relationships, school or work-related obligations, and/or career-related goals
- The use of the Internet as an escape from stress and anxiety
- Feeling withdrawal symptoms (like trouble sleeping, mood swings, loss of appetite, etc.) if you’re forced to stop using the Internet
- Dishonesty about the amount of time spent on the Internet to friends, family members, or a therapist
How is Internet Addiction Disorder Treated?
Internet Addiction treatment must start with a recognition of the trouble. People with Internet Addiction Disorder may struggle to identify that they have a problem. So, the intervention of a close friend or family member may be helpful.
In minor cases of Internet Addiction, self-monitoring and self-correcting can be successful. There are online tools to help with this including apps or software to monitor time spent online and restrict websites that can be visited.
Therapy is a common and often effective treatment option for different types of addiction, including Internet Addiction Disorder. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be successful for people with Internet Addiction because it focuses on replacing destructive habits with healthy ones. Over time, this treatment method may help people with Internet Addiction spend less time on the Internet and stop poor Internet habits, such as online gambling.
Group therapy for Internet Addiction may help struggling individuals feel supported and motivated on the path to recovery. Group therapy can be especially helpful in people with Internet Addiction who feel isolated and/or struggle with in-person interactions.
Internet Addiction Disorder may commonly be accompanied by conditions including depression, anxiety, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, among others. When Internet Addiction is combined with another condition, medications may be a helpful treatment option.