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Living in a tech-savvy digital age brings its own specific set of 21st century problems. Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in cases of what is termed internet addiction – a wide-ranging term that covers issues such as having a compulsive need to play video games, to check Facebook, tweet, shop online or post Instagrams..
The problems begin when internet usage goes beyond the norm and starts to affect day to day life, work and relationships, with young people being particularly in danger of becoming addicted. Although there is some debate about whether this compulsive usage constitutes a true addiction, many psychiatrists and experts in the field have genuine concerns once a person’s use of social media and gaming becomes all consuming. Professional help is often needed to address the situation. The World Health Organisation has listed and defined gaming addiction as a condition in the 11th edition of International Classification of Diseases.
Smartphone overuse is considered by some researches to be a form of psychological behavioural dependence, where symptoms often include a preoccupation with mobile communications, excessive money or time spent on the phone and using the phone in socially or physically inappropriate situations. As networks become faster, the user is bombarded with ever more content and messaging, compounding the problem to addictive levels. Screen-based addictions are becoming more common, with people experiencing a dependency on Netflix, pornography or social media
The causes are hard to pinpoint, with studies suggesting that Internet Addiction Disorder – similar to other dependency disorders – affects the pleasure centre of the brain, triggering the release of dopamine. A predisposition in users to suffer from anxiety and depression can also be a causal factor, as they may turn to the internet to distract them from their problems. Shyness and awkwardness in social situations can also be a factor, as the internet can be emotionally rewarding without requiring interpersonal interaction. Whatever the cause, it is often the case that if you find online socialising, gaming or shopping a pleasurable activity and you suffer from an addiction to the Internet, you will begin to indulge in more and more of the behaviour to maintain your levels of pleasure.
The treatment of internet addiction is a relatively new field, but at Delamere we are to use the extensive knowledge gained from treating other addictive disorders such as gambling and drugs to devise innovative treatment pathways.
Once we’ve established that the guest is genuinely suffering from internet addiction, we evaluate the severity of the condition and formulate a personalised programme that will directly tackle the guests’s specific issues. Our expert counseling uses cognitive behavioural therapy as a basis for getting to the heart of the causes of the addiction, with one-to-one and group support sessions providing important back up. Once the strategy has succeeded in reducing the amount of time online to more manageable proportions, we introduce coping strategies that will help maintain the positive steps forward and prevent any slip back into old ways.
“Anyone who finds themselves constantly checking their phone from the moment they wake up, or spending an inordinate amount of time on the internet, may need to consider seeking help if their life has become unmanageable.”
If you are worried that internet addiction has become a problem in your life, or in the life of someone you care about we’re here to help.