Internet Addiction: Is It Real?

It is difficult to comprehend that just a little over a quarter-of-a-century ago, the internet was an alien concept to most people and the very idea of smartphones was something out of science fiction. However, nowadays the internet is a very real and very important part of daily life; so much so that for some people it has become an obsession and something that they cannot live without.

For those old enough to remember a time when the internet did not exist, the idea of becoming addicted to it might sound ridiculous. Nevertheless, the reality of the world in which we live means that internet addiction is a major issue for many individuals. In fact, the internet has the potential to take over a person’s life to the extent that it can crowd out everything else.

If you can relate to this then please know that you are not alone. There are many people just like you struggling to control their use of the internet. The good news is that help is available and here at Banbury Lodge, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you get your life back on the right path once more.

What Is Internet Addiction?

As any pattern of behaviour that causes negative consequences can be classed as an addiction, it is easy to see how the internet could become addictive. Most people assume that addiction refers only to the abuse of substances such as alcohol or drugs, but you will know that this is not the case.

Internet addiction is known as an impulse control disorder and is similar to other conditions like gambling, sex addiction, or shopping addiction in that a mood-altering chemical is not involved. If your use of the internet is beginning to have a negative impact on your day-to-day life, then you might possibly be addicted.

Do I Have an Internet Addiction?

There is no test that can determine whether you do or do not have an addiction, so it is important to consider your behaviour and your use of the internet. There are a number of questions you can ask yourself, and how these are answered will determine whether you should be worried. Below are a few examples:

  • Does your use of the internet interfere with daily life?
  • Do your family members or friends complain that you spend too much time online?
  • Are you preoccupied with the internet – do you think about going online even when doing other things?
  • Do you regularly spend more time online than you had planned to?
  • Do you try to hide your internet use from loved ones or lie about the amount of time you have been online?
  • Do you prefer to spend your time online rather than interacting with others in the real world?
  • Have you tried to cut back on your internet use but found yourself unable to?
  • Does your internet use interfere with other activities – are you neglecting responsibilities at home, at school or at work?
  • Do you feel agitated whenever you are not online?

If you can relate to the above, then it is likely that your internet use is a problem. If you find that you are unable to stay away, despite wanting to, then it is time you sought some help. You can talk to us here at Banbury Lodge.

You should know that you are not the only one to be struggling with the unhealthy use of the internet. Internet addiction is a growing problem in the UK. A report by Ofcom in 2016 found that many individuals believe they are in danger of developing an internet addiction.

Some admitted to being late for work because of their internet use while others said they had neglected their housework or bumped into other people on the street while accessing the internet from their smartphones.

How Will Addiction Affect Me?

Although there may not be any major physical side effects from using the internet as there would with an addiction to a substance such as alcohol or drugs, there are other consequences of having an internet addiction.

If you are spending large amounts of time online, you may not be getting enough sleep, which can affect your overall wellbeing. Many people who spend too much time on the internet will forego sleep and eat as they become preoccupied with what they are doing. In extreme cases, this can lead to chronic fatigue and exhaustion.

Other symptoms that can develop because of excessive internet use include vision problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, backaches, and dry eyes.

There are social and mental issues associated with an internet addiction too. For example, if you are spending far too much time online, you may be neglecting spending time with family members and friends. You might prefer to spend your time with your virtual friends, which can have an impact on your ability to maintain healthy relationships in the real world.

Why Have I Developed an Internet Addiction?

It is impossible to tell the exact reason you have developed an internet addiction. It may be that you suffer from low self-esteem and that you feel much more comfortable interacting with others from behind a computer screen.

Perhaps you like the fact that when you are online, your true identity is unknown and that you can create a persona for yourself that is completely different from the real you. Maybe being online allows you to be much more confident than you could ever be in the real world.

It could be the case that you are already a confident person but crave attention from others. Alternatively, you might spend most of your time on social media and have become obsessed with getting as many ‘likes’, ‘comments’ or ‘retweets’ as you can.

While most people can use the internet in moderation, many do become obsessed with it. What is certain though is that internet addiction is a growing trend. Moreover, while scientists cannot pinpoint an exact cause, they do know that many of those affected have a brain structure that is similar to those who develop other types of addiction.

Studies have found that the brains of those affected tend to be altered specifically in the regions that are responsible for good judgement and decision making. This means that if you have an internet addiction, you will be unable to quit even if you want to.

Can My Internet Addiction Be Treated?

If you need help for an addiction, we can help you. Banbury Lodge has a team of therapists with expertise and knowledge of helping patients to overcome all types of addiction, including internet addiction.

We offer comprehensive treatment programmes for internet addiction that will help to identify the cause of the addictive behaviour in the first instance. Once we have determined why you became addicted, we will work with you on challenging your negative thought processes so that you can avoid a return to addictive behaviours going forward.

When you access a treatment programme with Banbury Lodge, you can look forward to a bespoke treatment plan that has been created with your requirements in mind. We will utilise a variety of traditional and holistic therapies that we believe will work best for you.

Your treatment plan is likely to include elements of the following:

  • Individual counselling
  • Group therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Dialectical behavioural therapy
  • Sound therapy
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Nutrition and physiological wellbeing.

Our aim is to help you learn positive ways of dealing with the triggers to your addictive behaviour so that you can take control of your life once more.

Can You Help My Family?

We know that your family members will probably have been affected by your illness too and a part of our programme will focus on helping you and your loved ones to move on from the addiction. We offer a fantastic family therapy programme so that you have the best chance of getting your life back on track when our programme comes to an end.

If you are interested in finding out more about internet addiction and how you can overcome it with Banbury Lodge, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

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