Internet Addiction Treatment
Internet addiction treatment is something that should be handled by a licensed, qualified professional only. A therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, recreational and other therapists often work collaboratively on a multidisciplinary treatment team to treat internet addiction in the most effective way possible.
Internet addiction treatment is best handled in an inpatient setting. The reason for this is similar to other addictions. Often, there is some compelling reason for the patient to continue the behavior. This is why internet addiction treatment often begins with an intervention. Outpatient Treatment generally does not provide the intensity of therapy needed nor does it provide the level of clinical sophistication needed to treat a true addiction.
Additionally, without taking the addictive material away, there is little hope that outpatient treatment will be successful. Another advantage of inpatient treatment is that the patient can receive much more therapy than they would in an outpatient setting. Typically, therapist see a client once a week in an outpatient setting. For internet addiction treatment, patients should be in a secure facility where the internet and video games are removed from the environment.
There is a mechanical representation of internet or video game treatment in the brain. As behaviors are practiced, neurological connections called “synapses” form and these connections strengthen the more behaviors occur. Synapses are essential to neuronal function: neurons are cells that are specialized to pass signals to individual target cells, and synapses are the means by which they do so. In this sense, there is a real mechanical mechanism that represents the internet habit.
At a synapse, the plasma membrane of the signal-passing neuron (the presynaptic neuron) comes into close apposition with the membrane of the target (postsynaptic) cell. Both the presynaptic and postsynaptic sites contain extensive arrays of a molecular machinery that link the two membranes together and carry out the signaling process. In many synapses, the presynaptic part is located on an axon and the postsynaptic part is located on a dendrite or soma. Over time, bad habits like playing video games or going online to decrease anxiety or frustration become the new “knee jerk” response to stress. Attending a residential treatment center or therapeutic boarding school that can provide a detox experience is the best first step.
Insight Oriented Internet Addiction Treatment
The second phase of internet addiction treatment generally involves building insight as to why the internet addiction developed in the first place. Along with the guidance of a qualified therapist, a patient can see what frustrations, anxieties, or fears they had which led them down the path to need internet addiction treatment.
Replacement activities are found for the patient that can replace the internet addiction. If you think about internet addiction in terms of a coping skill, generally the patient will see that they were overusing or misusing the internet to cope with something in their life such as stress or anxiety.
Depression is another reason why people fall into internet overuse habits and need internet addiction treatment. While using the internet or playing video games might make them feel good in the moment, ultimately, continuing this behavior prolongs the depression and takes them further away from the solution.
Internet Addiction Treatment: A History
Internet addiction first became the subject of research and controversy in the mid-1990s when video games became more sophisticated and video game companies sought to create products that made gamers play for longer and longer periods of time.
The need for internet addiction treatment can come from a variety of causes and potential factors. Researchers have compared internet addiction to gambling, compulsive buying, and other experiences where a high is felt that does not involve substances. It is also possible that there is a genetic component that makes someone more prone to problematic internet use and to seek out internet addiction treatment.
There may also be society and family factors as a person might be more prone to escape negative situations of everyday life due to their current environment. People that need internet addiction treatment use the internet frequently and develop their internet usage as a coping skill to deal with negative feelings they may be experiencing. A patient who enters treatment likely has come to depend on the internet to make them feel normal.
Internet Addiction Treatment: Gender Differences
It is also known that gender plays a role in internet addiction. As a result, there can be differences in the best approach for treatment that is pursued. For example, males tend to be more addicted to video games including first-person shooter or violent games. Males are also more prone to be addicted to cybersex, online pornography, and gambling online.
Women are more likely to be addicted to or misuse social media or online shopping in a problematic way. This can include sexting and using the internet in an unsafe manner. While there are certainly gender differences in the need for internet addiction treatment, the commonalities of the treatment have more similarities than differences. In both cases, a detox or “unplugged” experience is first needed, then the patient needs to experience a therapeutic process of building insight and gaining new coping skills. For the males, overcoming social shyness is quite common, while for females, education into the harm of sexting or posting inappropriate information online can be a necessary skill to learn.
Getting Started With Internet Addiction Treatment
It’s helpful to identify people that need internet addiction treatment by examining the effect it has on their overall functioning. People who may be experiencing internet addiction will exhibit internet use more frequently and have a preoccupation with the internet even when not using it. Often, they have tried to cut back but have not been able to, and being without the internet makes the individual feel angry or restless in their attempt to cut back on their internet usage.
A true addiction forms when the internet is used to regulate mood or to make the user feel better from actual face-to-face interactions that don’t go well such as being bullied or feeling depressed. Often, people that need internet addiction treatment lose sleep, they feel fatigued and lose interest in sports or other activities. Problematic internet use is generally brought to a therapist once a parent or Guardian sees a significant impact on the child’s life.
For adults, a person’s spouse may notice relationships in the family being disrupted or work obligations being put aside. Unfortunately, the most common approach to addiction treatment is a 12-step program. For internet addiction treatment, 12-step programs are completely ineffective. There are some elements of 12 step programs that may be useful such as having a sponsor or group in which to share your feelings and frustrations, but it is not reasonable to completely separate from technology in this Modern Age. Generally, the best approach is what is called the “harm reduction” approach using cognitive behavioral therapy and finding replacement activities.
Internet Addiction Treatment: Where to Draw the Line
It is unusual today to find someone that does not use the internet. Even older individuals will use email or go online at least occasionally. Additionally, the internet is no longer tied to your home computer as people can access it through smartphones gaming consoles and other devices that are portable.
Often, parents will ask when their teenager has crossed the line from normal use to pathological use when seeking the need for internet addiction treatment. Rather than looking at the number of hours spent online, parents should look at the effect the internet has on the individual.
If the internet usage is done in lieu of face-to-face contact, internet addiction treatment might be necessary. Parents might also consider if the internet usage is being done to regulate moods or to deal with depression. Most therapists agree that if a person repeatedly goes online to avoid real world responsibilities or if this avoidance creates problems in a teens ability to function in school, socialize, or earn income then there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Parents might ask themselves before seeking internet addiction treatment for their teen if the internet use has caused significant problems in school or with social relationships. Parents should determine if school responsibilities have fallen off over time as internet usage has increased. If your child’s quality of life has deteriorated along with their increase in online use, a residential treatment option should certainly be considered.
Other signs of the need for internet addiction treatment can be marathon internet or gaming sessions that last all day or well into the night. Additionally, missing meals or skipping them completely or also missing out on friendship opportunities can indicate the need for internet addiction treatment. Internet addiction treatment can also be determined if there are psychological signs such as strong feelings of frustration when unable to go online, and loss of interest and participation and hobbies. Additionally, experiencing a negative mood such as depression or anxiety when not on the internet can indicate the need for internet addiction treatment.