While time spent online can be hugely productive, compulsive Internet use can interfere with daily life, work, and relationships. Some Internet users may develop an emotional attachment to on-line friends and activities they create on their computer screens, while others spend endless hours researching topics of interest online.
Similar to other addictions, those suffering from Internet addiction use the virtual fantasy world to connect with real people through the Internet, as a substitution for real-life human connection, which they are unable to achieve normally.
Symptoms of Internet Addiction
Signs and symptoms of Internet addiction vary from person to person. For example, there are no set hours per day or number of messages sent that indicate Internet addiction. But here are some general warning signs that your Internet use may have become a problem:
- Losing track of time online.
- Having trouble completing tasks at work or home.
- Isolation from family and friends.
- Feeling guilty or defensive about your Internet use.
- Feeling a sense of euphoria while involved in Internet activities.
Types of Internet Addiction
There are several different types of internet addiction, and they are as follows:
- Cybersex Addiction – compulsive use of Internet pornography, adult chat rooms, or adult fantasy role-play sites impacting negatively on real-life intimate relationships
- Cyber-Relationship Addiction – addiction to social networking, chat rooms, texting, and messaging to the point where virtual, online friends become more important than real-life relationships with family and friends
- Net Compulsions – such as compulsive online gaming, gambling, stock trading, or compulsive use of online auction sites such as eBay, often resulting in financial and job-related problems.
- Information Overload – compulsive web surfing or database searching, leading to lower work productivity and less social interaction with family and friends
- Computer Addiction – obsessive playing of off-line computer games, such as Solitaire or Minesweeper, or obsessive computer programming
Who is at risk?
You are at greater risk of Internet addiction if:
- You suffer from anxiety. You may use the Internet to distract yourself from your worries and fears. An anxiety disorder like obsessive-compulsive disorder may also contribute to excessive email checking and compulsive Internet use.
- You are depressed. The Internet can be an escape from feelings of depression, but too much time online can make things worse. Internet addiction further contributes to stress, isolation and loneliness.
- You have any other addictions. Many Internet addicts suffer from other addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sex.
- You lack social support. Internet addicts often use social networking sites, instant messaging, or online gaming as a safe way of establishing new relationships and more confidently relating to others.
- You’re an unhappy teenager. You might be wondering where you fit in and the Internet could feel more comfortable than real-life friends.
- You are less mobile or socially active than you once were. For example, you may be coping with a new disability that limits your ability to drive. Or you may be parenting very young children, which can make it hard to leave the house or connect with old friends.
- You are stressed. While some people use the Internet to relieve stress, it can have a counterproductive effect. The longer you spend online, the higher your stress levels will be.
There's no single reason why addictions develop, however you are more at risk of developing an addiction if:
- Other members of your family have addiction problems
- You experienced stress or abuse while growing up
- You have mental health problems
Many patients require one to one sessions with an addiction specialist whilst others need to be away from their familiar environment and from all the regular stresses that would usually feed into the addiction. If this is the case Dr de Silva would identify the most suitable treatment centre for you as each centre has its own strengths and weaknesses and we can help ensure you receive your treatment at the one that is right for you.
Most treatment centres work on the same principles but there are often many differences between them including the therapeutic surroundings and the clinical team working with the patients which is why we can carry out an assessment and work out the most appropriate centre for each of our patients giving them the best chance of recovery and help to prevent relapse.
Contact us now to see how Dr de Silva and her team can help with your internet addiction or call us for free confidential advice on 0207 244 4200