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Internet Addiction

Playing internet video games in excess? Compulsively shopping online? Can't stop checking Facebook?

Internet Addiction: Is It Real? Do I Need Help?

The internet has become a focal point in most people’s everyday lives in the more than 30 years since its invention.

However, experts are increasingly raising concerns about the addictive nature of the internet as it takes a tighter grip over all of our lives.

Internet addiction is not recognised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but some may feel that their relationship with the internet has taken on an unhealthy or addictive tone, with their neural reward pathways affected in much the same way as they would be by addiction to illicit substances.

What is crucial is not to misdiagnose a habit like an addiction.

Do you play a lot of internet video games? Can’t stop checking Facebook? Call 0808 115 0608 today and get immediate help.

Habits vs addictions

The harsh truth of alcoholism and use is that it can kill you.

Internet and social media obsessions are just like any other behavioural addiction.

A habit can be a regularly practised action that is incorporated into a broader routine. An addiction, however, is the reliance on a certain behaviour for a dopamine reward.

This becomes worse until the addict is unable to stop.

The harsh truth of alcoholism and drug use is that it can kill you.

When reflecting on your relationship with the internet, it is important to consider whether it may just be a habit that is harmless to your mental wellbeing.

Most working professionals incorporate the internet regularly into their lives, but this does not constitute an addiction.

The difference between habit and addiction, in the context of the internet, is not necessarily about the amount of time spent online, but about the reason for going online, and the ability to function normally offline

For most people, overuse of the internet will be a result of habit, boredom or overworking. However, for some people, the issue will be pathological and affect them in the same way as chemical dependency on drugs or alcohol.

In this case, similar treatments should be considered, such as group therapy or residential rehab.

What are the signs of internet addiction?

Symptoms of internet addiction include:

  • Sudden mood swings
  • Not being able to control time spent online
  • Withdrawal after time away from the internet
  • Continuing damaging behaviour online despite negative real-world consequences
  • Inability to distinguish between the online and offline worlds
  • Hearing your phone buzz or go off when it hasn’t
  • Increased activity longer than 1-2 hours
  • Lying about time spent

How can you lessen the effects of internet addiction?

Internet addiction can have serious consequences on a person’s life.

Fortunately, there are many practical steps that someone with internet addiction can make straight away, without the need of a medical professional.

Simple steps such as setting a timer on your phone and regular meditation can prove effective in combatting internet addiction.

Social interaction can also be highly beneficial – the internet can be isolating, a problem that only becomes worse when someone becomes addicted.

Taking time out to engage in group activities or meet with friends and family can be a great way to combat this isolation.

Is there any help available?

For some, internet addiction may require professional treatment.

Addictions are complex, and it is easy to misdiagnose yourself online.

However, if you are worried that you or a loved one may be showing signs of internet addiction, then early intervention is key to successful treatment.

Just like with drug and alcohol addiction, the best course of action to overcome crippling dependency on the internet may be a stay in a residential rehab facility.

Castle Craig Hospital is the UK’s leading addiction recovery clinic, specialising in helping professionals recover from addiction. Click here for a free addiction assessment.

What resources are available for internet addiction?

When dealing with any addiction, we always recommend starting with an appointment with your local GP.

Addictions are complex, and it is easy to misdiagnose yourself online.

If you are confident that you are suffering from internet addiction, visit Healthline for an in-depth analysis, or visit The NHS’ page on internet addiction for background on internet addiction.

We’re familiar with how hard internet and social media addictions can be, for help, call us on 0808 115 0608.

Last Updated on June 14, 2021 by Alison