Internet gamers, FaceBook or Twitter users, and Reddit aficionados have all reported losing track of time and space as they dive deeper down the rabbit holes of their preferred digital channels. Internet addiction is not currently recognized as a disorder in the latest DSM, but if you have experienced any psychoactive loss of time and space while pursuing your internet interests, you have already witnessed the addictive power of the internet. Internet and digital addictions fall within a broader category of behavioral addictions, including compulsive disorders such as addictions to gambling, pornography or shopping.
Ask yourself if you are attached to the internet for longer periods of time every day. Do you try to hide your internet use from your family and friends? Are you irritated and do you get angry or anxious when you cannot get online? Are you obsessing over what is happening online when you are not logged in or connected? These are all signs of a budding addiction to digital information. If you believe you are falling prey to internet addiction, the first step toward treating your problem is for you to recognize and acknowledge your loss of control over your behavior.
A therapist or counselor can guide you through behavior modification therapy to address your addiction. You might begin by recording the daily hours you spend online and the activities or websites you follow during that time. A counselor will then help you set daily online time limits and goals for reducing the daily duration of your internet activities. You can simultaneously begin to explore non-digital activities that you missed as your internet addiction consumed your time. Your therapist might encourage you to reconnect with friends and family, to start or resume an exercise program, and enjoy any activities that do not require a digital connection. Ultimately, the key to your treatment will be understanding the triggers that inspired obsessive internet use. Weaning yourself from your daily internet dosages and creating new behavior patterns that do not involve digital connections as coping mechanisms will all be part of your recovery.
The staff and counselors at Last Resort are available to talk to you at any time about addictive and compulsive behaviors. Internet addiction can indicate a vulnerability to other addictions. Call 877-892-7997 for more information.