Maggie did not want to go to this appointment. It was not her idea, but her parents scheduled it because they said they were worried. Maggie did not see what the big deal was, but they insisted on going to therapy together. In the counseling room, Maggie bit her tongue as her parents talked about how different she had become. The counselor asked them to explain. Her parents spoke about how Maggie was not sleeping or eating enough and how much time she spent online. They told the therapist about how last year, Maggie played sports after school or went to different clubs. But her grades have dropped, and she stopped all extracurricular activities. Maggie’s parents were worried about her safety as well. They were not sure who she was meeting online. When they were done, Maggie wanted to leave, but instead, the therapist asked her parents to leave. The therapist wanted to speak just to Maggie. The therapist wanted to hear her perspective. Maggie took a chance. She let the therapist know that her friends had started excluding her from their group. At school, they ignored her, and it was awful. Maggie took a difficult but important step. This first appointment was the first of many as Maggie realized that she needed help navigating some tough situations and her Internet use. Maggie is not alone. More and more, people are becoming addicted to the Internet.
“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.” —Gretchen Rubin
Almost everywhere people are, they can be online. Smartphones and tables are always in people’s hands. Laptops are in the satchel. The Internet is easily accessible to most people, and like many other things, some people manage that responsibility well while other have trouble—just like shopping, gambling, sex, and other behaviors that can become compulsive and addictive. Also like other behavior-based addictions, Internet addiction has effective treatments.
That is why Thriveworks Peachtree City offers counseling for Internet addiction. We have worked with many clients who used the Internet compulsively, but we have also helped them heal from the addiction and regain control.
In 1995, when the Internet had far more limitations than it does today, Dr. Ivan Goldberg first suggested the idea that people could become addicted to being online. Many thought the idea was a joke, but within a few short years, mental health professionals were taking the idea seriously. Dr. Kimberly S. Young formulated diagnostics for Internet addiction by 1998. If an individual has five of the following, they may be addicted to being online:
- Repeated but failed attempts to stop or curb Internet use.
- Using the Internet longer than one planned to use it.
- Lying about Internet use.
- Being preoccupied with the Internet.
- Increasingly needing to spend time online to feel the same level of satisfaction.
- Feeling depressed, moody, or irritable when not online.
- Taking personal or professional risks in order to be online.
- Regulating one’s mood through Internet use.
Dr. Young also identified several categories of Internet addiction:
- Cybersex addiction: Compulsively using adult websites for porn and sex.
- Net compulsions: Shopping, gambling, or day-trading obsessively.
- Computer addiction: Compulsively playing video games online.
- Cyber-relationship addiction: Over involvement with online relationships.
- Information addiction: Surfing databases, social media, and the web compulsively.
Signs of Internet Addiction
When someone experiences any addiction, there are repercussions and signs within their life. Addiction is a disruptive illness, and Internet addiction is no different. It can cause a significant amount of emotional and physical trouble in an individual’s life. The emotional signs that someone may be struggling with an Internet addiction include:
- Mood swings
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of elation when using the Internet
- Inability to keep to a schedule
- Avoidance of work
- Losing a sense of time
Even though Internet addiction is behavior-based and not a substance-based addiction, there are still physical signs that someone may be addicted to the Internet:
- Neck pain
- Poor personal hygiene (e.g., not bathing)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Poor nutrition (forgetting to eat or eating excessively)
- Dry eyes and other vision problems
- Weight gain or loss
Scheduling an Appointment for Internet Addiction at Thriveworks Peachtree City
How addiction develops is different for each person, and treatment is a unique journey as well. A few of the treatment options available for Internet addiction include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: a treatment that looks at negative beliefs that may be undergirding the addiction. Some clients may need a support group as well as therapy. Others may benefit from medication. Skilled therapists often help clients find the right treatment for them.
If you are ready to meet with a therapist, consider reaching out to Thriveworks Peachtree City. We have appointments available for Internet addiction, and we work with each client to find an individual treatment plan for their unique situation. When you call our office, a scheduling specialist will answer and help you make an appointment. You will not reach a voicemail or automated response system. Instead, you may be meeting with your counselor the following day. Weekend and evening sessions are offer, and many insurance plans are accepted. Let’s work together. Call today for an appointment for Internet addiction.