Is Internet Addiction Real?


A new study suggests that heavy Internet users experience physical withdrawal symptoms similar to drug users and that their obsessive behavior has other negative effects.

Do you feel jittery, if you’re away from your keyboard for too long? Are you anxious for a Facebook fix, if you haven’t checked in lately? Does texting too often get you in trouble with your friends, boss or loved ones? Do you always sleep with your phone or iPad in arm’s reach?

You’re not alone.

We know drugs and alcohol are addictive, but new science seems to show that heavy Internet users suffer similar physical withdrawal symptoms when logging off. The good news is those symptoms aren’t all in your head. The bad news is you might be an Internet addict.

Researchers at Swansea and Milan Universities observed 60 volunteers with an average age of 25. The subjects were first tested to determine their level of Internet use and whether they used the Internet obsessively or to the detriment of their social relationships and jobs. They were then instructed to surf the ‘net, visiting any sites they liked, for 15 minutes. After that limited exposure mood and levels of anxiety were tested and logged. Not surprisingly the volunteers who earlier testing had pegged as “addicted,” reported increased negative moods after they logged off. In fact researchers noted that this group suffered a “comedown” that was not unlike what is experienced by people after using the drug ecstasy.

While Internet addiction is not currently recognized as a psychiatric disorder, this limited study shows that nearly half of young people spend so much time on the Internet that it has negative consequences on their lives. The problem is so great that the American Psychiatric Association has flagged it as a potential issue that requires further investigation. This is the first step to it earning official “disorder” status. Currently compulsive behaviors like gambling, eating, shopping, sex and Internet use are called process addictions, because there is no physical substance that alters body chemistry. Instead a process is repeated leading to a similar high as that produced by substance abuse, and there is often a similar withdrawal or coming down period when the behavior is ceased.

Process Addiction Help at The Canyon

If you or someone you love needs treatment for a process and/or substance addiction, call The Canyon now. We are here to take your call 24 hours a day and can answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.

Wendy Lee Nentwig

By Wendy Lee Nentwig
Guest Contributor

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