No doubt you’ve heard something about “internet addiction.” To some, it might seem like a joke or exaggeration. But, infact, more and more people are turning to the Internet or other similar types of media in an excessive, life-altering manner. But the real question is–is IAD an addiction or more of a coping method to deal with other mental health problems?
From wikipedia: “Internet addiction disorder (IAD), or, more broadly, Internet overuse, problematic computer use or pathological computer use, is excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. These terms avoid the distracting and divisive term addiction and are not limited to any single cause.” IAD started as a mythical disorder that was based off of the newly diagnosable gambling addiction in 1995.
Supporters of disorder classification often divide IAD into subtypes by activity:
• excessive viewing of pornography
• overwhelming and excessive gaming
• inappropriate involvement in online social networking sites or blogging
• Internet shopping addiction
Some supporters of IAD would like to see this type of addiction added to the next version of the DSM-V, which will be released in 2012. Before this happens, though, IAD needs to be better defined to see if it’s more of a obsession, compulsion, or self-medication for mental problems like depression. People who suffer from IAD hope to be considered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (in fact, one case is currently pending where a man claims his IAD is in response to PTSD).
Supporters in the medical community believe that IAD affects a person because it alters their mood a lot like other addictions, and that change in body chemistry can become addictive. They tend toward classifying IAD as a compulsion or as a psychological escape (because it is often triggered by anxiety or stressful situation).
Oppositions come from those who believe that the internet is a social environment, which can’t really cause a person to be addicted. (You can’t be addicted to your hometown, for example). “For many patients, overuse or inappropriate use of the Internet is merely a manifestation of their depression, anxiety, impulse control disorders, or pathological gambling. IAD is compared to food addiction, in which patients overeat as a form of self-medication for depression, anxiety, etc., without actually being truly addicted to eating.”
I read about a brand new treatment center was started in the US to treat IAD. “reStart Internet Addiction Recover Program” offers a 45-day treatment that’s “designed specifically to help internet and video game addicts overcome their dependence on gaming, gambling, chatting, texting and other aspects of internet addiction.” The center says that about 6-10% of all internet-users are actually dependent upon it. The center believes that the US is slow in its recognition and treatment of internet-related addictions and dangers. The center also claims that China and South Korea have designated internet addiction as their “number one public health danger.” The treatment costs $14,500 per person and no insurance company will cover it (yet).
What do you think? Do you feel your internet/technology use is out of hand? Is IAD an addition or a compulsion? Can we prevent more people from developing IAD or is this our next potential health crisis? Join the conversation.