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We all enjoy the using the internet. It’s a fantastic tool that allows us to find needed information in seconds and helps us to keep in contact with our friends and loved ones. We use it daily for our jobs, to socialize with our friends, for education purposes and shopping. We use it to find about important breaking news and even celebrity updates. So how do you know when too much is too much? According to NCBI you may be addicted to the internet if you feel stressed about not being able to access the internet or are often thinking of the last time you were online or anxiously awaiting your next visit.
Is internet addiction real?
Internet addiction is defined as Internet use of more than thirty-eight hours per week. It is a compulsive control disorder similar to pathological gambling. When a person has a gambling problem they simply cannot stop thinking about placing their next bet. Same thing goes with some internet users. They are always looking to get their next “fix” of internet use. Sometimes the addiction is actually something else and the internet just facilitates it such as gambling or sex addictions. This is considered a sub –category of the person’s true addiction. You may be addicted to online poker games, shopping or pornography. The internet is merely a conduit for the real problem. If someone has a drug addiction they must go through a drug dealer to obtain their drug of choice but you wouldn’t consider them to be addicted to the drug dealer.
What are the signs of internet addiction?
- Using the internet as a way to escape reality and relieve feelings of depression, anxiety and hopelessness or creating make-believe personas to build yourself up.
- Being online longer than intended even when time trying to reduce internet use.
- Lying about internet use to friends and family to conceal how much you’re really online.
- Risking employment, relationships or education opportunities because of internet use.
- Not being able to stop even after multiple attempts.
- Preoccupation with the internet. Losing focus on actual responsibilities.
How does that affect me?
Internet addictions can mistakenly allow you to believe you are living a full and active life, when in reality you have no real life relationships and all of your social interaction is fantasy. Internet addiction can cause you to spend more time isolated from the real world. Some people even create online personas for themselves because they feel inadequate or have low self esteem which can cause the person to spiral into clinical depression and anxiety. Failures in attempt to quitting can cause withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, irritability and depression. It can even cause physical problems such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, backaches, headaches or migraines, sleeplessness and eating disorders.
How do I get help?
Contact a Certified Addictions Counselor trained in identification and treatment of internet addiction to first determine if there is a problem. There are many treatment options available to help increase your chances of long-term recovery. Talk to your doctor about what might work best for you.