Treatment in Sterling, VA for Internet Addiction—Therapists and Counselors
When Greg was at his son’s baseball game, he was also at work. His smartphone rarely left his hand. He could watch his kid play and catch up on email during the down-time. What could be better? Greg was a master of multi-tasking, at least that is what he told himself. Greg’s wife was seeing things differently, however. She had expressed her concern that Greg was not really present with her or the kids because he was online so much. Greg did not think that it was a big deal, but he promised he would try to stay off the Internet as much as possible. After a week or so of trying to cut back, Greg was surprised at how hard it was to log off and how quickly he grabbed his phone without even thinking about it. After his wife insisted, Greg agreed to go to therapy. As he explained what was happening to the counselor, the counselor explained that what Greg was not alone in his struggle to regulate how much he used the Internet. More and more, people are developing Internet addictions, but more and more, people are reaching out for the help they need to regain control when they are online.
“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
Today, most people can be online whenever and wherever they want to be, but even in the days of dial-up, mental health professionals were concerned about people’s Internet use. In 1995, Dr. Ivan Goldberg suggested the idea that people could become addicted to the Internet in the same way that they can become addicted to gambling or shopping. His idea was initially received as a joke, but psychologists soon realized that this was no laughing matter. By 1998, criteria had been developed for recognizing Internet addiction by Dr. Kimberly S. Young. Soon thereafter, treatments were developed as well. Internet addiction shares many symptoms and effects with other types of compulsions, but it also shares their treatment options—many people regain control of their lives off and online.
The therapists at Thriveworks Sterling treat Internet addiction. We know it is a growing problem that is harming many people, but we have also seen people heal.
The Internet and Compulsions
Some people log on, take care of what they need to do online, and then log off without any issues—just as some people go to Vegas for the weekend, gamble for fun, and then return home without any compulsions. Other people struggle. Some people become dependent upon the Internet and use it compulsively. They may have difficulty controlling what they do and where they go online. They may have an Internet addiction.
If someone is struggling with five of the following signs, they may be struggling with an Internet addiction:
- Escalation: Being online for increasingly longer times or taking more risks online in order to feel the same level of contentment.
- Obsession: Thinking incessantly about being on the Internet.
- Risk: Endangering one’s job or family or finances in order to use the Internet.
- Lost Control: Using the Internet for longer than one planned to use it.
- Deception: Misleading loved ones about Internet use—either how long/often one uses the Intern or what one does online. Addicts can also deceive themselves about the seriousness of their Internet use.
- Moodiness: Feeling irritable or depressed when not using the Internet.
- Self-medicating: Using the Internet to regulate one’s feelings and mood.
- Failed Attempts to Quit: Wanting to quit, even try to do so without success.
There are many forms that Internet addiction can take. A few examples include…
- Computer addiction: Lost control of playing video games online.
- Net compulsions: Obsessively shopping, gambling, or day-trading online.
- Information addiction: Incessantly searching databases, scrolling through social media, and/or surfing websites.
- Cybersex addiction: Compulsively going to the Internet for sex and/or porn.
- Cyber-relationship addiction: Online relationships that are enmeshed and overinvolved.
Emotional and Physical Effect of Internet Addiction
When people are struggling with an Internet addiction, what they do online has real-world consequences. There are a number of emotional and physical effects that Internet addiction can cause. Emotionally, people who struggle with compulsive Internet use may experience…
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of elation when using the Internet
- Losing a sense of time
- Inability to keep to a schedule
- Avoidance of work
- Mood swings
Physically, people who struggle with compulsive Internet use may experience…
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Poor nutrition (forgetting to eat or eating mindlessly)
- Neck pain
- Dry eyes and other vision problems
- Poor personal hygiene (e.g., not changing clothes, bathing, etc.)
- Weight gain or loss
Thriveworks Sterling: Appointments for Internet Addiction
It is not difficult to see from the symptoms of Internet addiction, types of online compulsions, and effects of obsessive Internet use that this addiction can cause a number of challenges for individuals. It is important to note that there are treatments for Internet addiction. If you are ready to reach out, consider reaching out to Thriveworks Sterling. We have appointments available for Internet addiction. When you call our office, your first appointment may be within 24 hours. We also accept many forms of insurance. Call today.