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Internet Addiction

Just as destructive as other addiction types, but far more overlooked.

1 Your Role
I want to learn about treatment options for:

2 Basic Information
The Person is:
years old

graduated high school

3 Condition Information
Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.
Substances aren’t the only culprits – Internet addiction is real.

The Internet is a useful and largely unavoidable tool. Still, excessive use can lead to several forms of online addiction, all of which have the power to ruin healthy, productive lives. Learn more about what online addictions are, how they develop and how they can be treated.

What is Internet addiction?

Internet addiction is a broad term that describes several computer-based impulse control problems.

Because the Internet is a valuable and nearly unavoidable tool, many people become Internet addicts. Similar to substance abuse addicts, Internet addicts develop compulsive, destructive habits that interfere with everyday life as well as psychological dependence and withdrawal symptoms when Internet usage is stopped or reduced.

Common types of Internet addictions.

  • Cybersex addiction involves an obsessive use of adult chat rooms, online pornography and adult role-play sites. This obsession interferes with real-life intimacy and, eventually, isolates the addict.
  • Cyber-relationship addiction is characterized by an addiction to social networking, chat rooms and social messaging. Like a cybersex addiction, it eventually gets in the way of real-life relationships.
  • Net compulsions occur when an individual becomes addicted to online gambling, gaming, stock trading or online auction sites. Net compulsions often lead to financial problems.
  • Information overload includes compulsively surfing the web, browsing, and researching to where it interferes with daily activities.
  • Computer addiction is an obsession with playing off-line computer games or obsessive computer programming.
  • Online shopping addiction can manifest due to the illusion that the shopper isn’t really spending money and can result in massive financial distress.

Causes and symptoms of Internet addiction.

Generally, Internet addicts suffer from co-occurring disorders—such as depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder—or multiple addictions. Others lack social support—they feel lonely and isolated, so they turn to the Internet to find likeminded others. 

Symptoms of online addictions include, but are not limited to:

  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Preoccupation with the Internet
  • Losing track of time spent online
  • Lying to others about Internet usage
  • Using the Internet as an escape from problems,
  • Feelings of anger or depression when online time is interrupted
  • Withdrawing from everyday life

In addition to behavioral changes, Internet addiction can manifest itself physically. Internet addicts often complain of:

  • Dry or strained eyes
  • Pain and numbness in hands and wrists
  • Backaches, neck aches, or headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Significant weight loss or gain

Treating Internet addiction

Various forms of treatment are effective in curing Internet addiction. Counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, support groups and content-control software have helped addicts overcome addiction.

If you or a loved one needs help overcoming Internet addiction, Caron is here for you. Please explore our support groups or contact us for more information.