Internet Addiction: Signs, Symptoms and Help for Balancing Your Time Online and Off

By The Care Centers. Posted on Mon Feb 22 2016

When you think of addiction, you probably think of alcohol, cigarettes, or hard drugs like heroin or meth. However, addiction is a pervasive disease, and even the most innocuous things to some people can become serious addictions for others. For example, Internet addiction is a serious problem for a surprisingly large number of people in the United States today, and it can take on a number of different forms.

Internet Compulsions
One form of Internet addiction is compulsive use of online games, gambling, stock trading, or commerce. If you find yourself itching to get online and find something – anything! – to buy on eBay, then you may have a problem with Internet compulsions. This kind of problem can lead to major financial issues, as well as problems with your family and friends.

Cyber Sex Addiction
Addiction to cyber sex includes compulsive use of online pornography, frequenting adult chat rooms and erotic fantasy role-playing sites. Simply having a passing interest in these things does not constitute an addiction, but if you are unable to go a day without logging in and you skip social and family functions to engage in cyber sex, this is considered a form of Internet addiction.

Cyber-Relationship Addiction
Of course, your Internet addiction may not be sexual in nature at all. Do you compulsively check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media every few minutes or whenever you possibly can? Are your online friends more “real” to you than your in-person friends? Do you spend more time cultivating your online relationships than your relationships with your family and friends in the real world?

Computer Addiction
If you’re addicted to spending time on your computer, you may not even have to have an Internet connection. Computer addicts often spend hours each day playing offline games, like Solitaire, Minesweeper, and other games, or they obsessively fiddle with programming code and other projects on their computers instead of spending time with friends and family.

Information Addiction
Finally, some Internet addicts feel the need to compulsively surf online for information, delving deeper and deeper into different database searches, as they research one thing or another. This kind of compulsion can result in significantly decreased productivity at work, as well as reduced interaction with family and friends.

Getting Help and Finding Balance
Most Internet addicts can’t simply quit going online whenever they have the compulsion. However, with help through support groups and/or counseling, you can come to understand what emotions and triggers cause those compulsions. Then you can develop better coping mechanisms and tools so that you can improve your relationships with others and avoid the social, financial, and health problems associated with Internet addiction.

Most people who suffer from Internet addiction don’t need to go to a residential rehab facility, but group and individual counseling sessions can be extremely helpful. Find a rehab center near you that offers outpatient care and support groups, and get back on the road to a happy and fulfilling life with your friends and family.

Tags: Mental Health