The internet permeates every aspect of our lives, from socialising and entertainment to education and work – the online realm has become an intrinsic part of our daily routines. Algorithms and favourited content help to create the perfect digital world, luring users in and consuming countless hours. With this, an increasingly growing problem has emerged. Internet addiction holds a powerful grip over millions of people across the globe and has the potential to destroy lives if left unchecked.
What is internet addiction?
Internet addiction, a type of behavioural addiction, refers to an excessive and uncontrollable dependence on the internet. It is characterised by a persistent need to be online despite any negative consequences.
While the internet itself is not inherently addictive, certain activities and online environments can trigger addictive patterns of behaviour, resulting in a loss of control and interference with daily functioning. This could include the use of social media platforms, online gaming, gambling, pornography, shopping or constantly checking emails and messages.
How does internet addiction develop?
Just like other addictions, internet addiction develops due to changes in the brain’s chemistry. Engaging in online activities triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This dopamine release creates a mild sense of euphoria which reinforces the behaviour, leading to cycles of craving and seeking more online stimulation.
Over time, the brain adapts to these heightened levels of dopamine and requires more and more online experiences to achieve satisfaction. You may be more prone to internet addiction if you:
- Suffer from mental health issues, including anxiety or depression
- Experience boredom, social isolation and loneliness
- Have low self-esteem
- Are under the age of twenty-four
Of course, not everyone who uses the internet becomes addicted. However, if you fall into one of these categories, it is important to monitor your online activity and take action if it starts to get out of control.
Signs and symptoms of internet addiction
Recognising the signs and symptoms of internet addiction is a crucial first step in recovery. In order to overcome the problem, you must first move out of denial and admit that you need help. Some of the most common indicators of internet addiction include:
- A constant need to be online and frequently thinking about your next online session
- Loss of sense of time when online, often losing hours without realising it
- Failed attempts at reducing or stopping your online activity
- Withdrawal symptoms when you are unable to access the internet, including restlessness and agitation
- Neglecting real-life responsibilities and commitments in favour of using the internet
- Suffering from interpersonal relationship problems as a result of your online use
- Development of physical health issues as a result of the internet, including back or neck pain, headaches or dry eyes
- Feelings of shame, guilt or frustration at your inability to control your internet use
If you have experienced one or more of these signs and symptoms, it could point towards a potential internet addiction.
What is the cost of internet addiction?
Internet addiction can cost you your physical and mental wellbeing, your offline relationships and your overall quality of life.
Prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour associated with internet addiction can lead to a host of physical health issues. Lack of exercise, poor nutrition and irregular sleep patterns can contribute to weight gain, increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular problems, musculoskeletal issues and overall poor physical fitness.
Your mental health can also suffer as you become so engrossed in online activities, you withdraw from real-world interactions. You may start to feel disconnected from your friends, family and surroundings, leading to an increase in mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Spending excessive time online may also result in you neglecting important tasks, missing deadlines or reduced productivity. This can have long-term consequences on educational and career opportunities.
Internet addiction rehab and treatment
The good news is, the negative side effects of internet addiction are reversible with the right support. Oasis Runcorn is pleased to offer a comprehensive rehab programme that tackles the psychological and emotional aspects of your online compulsions. Our therapists can help you to understand the underlying causes of your internet addiction and teach you valuable coping mechanisms to prevent relapse.
Some of the therapies offered at Oasis Runcorn include:
- Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
- Group therapy
- Motivational interviewing
- Mindfulness-based therapy
- Yoga and meditation
- Gong baths
Our team is committed to helping you achieve your goals – with our assistance, you can enjoy a healthier, more productive life and a positive mindset.
Relapse prevention for internet addiction
Relapse prevention for internet addiction is particularly tough, as it is virtually impossible to avoid using the internet entirely in today’s modern world. It therefore requires ongoing hard work and dedication to stop yourself from falling back into old habits.
- Identify your triggers for excessive internet use
- Develop healthy coping skills, such as engaging in exercise, new hobbies or practising mindfulness techniques
- Seek support from family, friends and support groups
- Set strict boundaries and establish guidelines for your internet use
- Use technology mindfully
- Prioritise self-care, including maintaining a healthy sleep schedule and eating a healthy diet
It is also important to remember that relapse is not a sign of failure but an opportunity to learn and readjust your approach to internet addiction recovery.
If you would like to learn more about our internet addiction treatment programme, get in touch with our admissions team. Freedom from addiction is waiting for you just around the corner – all you have to do is take the first step.