In just a couple of decades, the Internet has completely changed the world and the way we see it. For most people, it’s a tool used to make life easier. For others, the Internet has become an obsession, much like the obsession that occurs with other substance and behavioural addictions. Internet addiction disorder, also known as IAD, is a condition characterised by the excessive use of the Internet to an extent that it has detrimental consequences for a person’s daily life. 

There are many debates around addictions that are not substance-related, however time and time again we have seen, and continue to see, the damage that behaviours such as obsessive gambling, sex, or porn use have had on individuals; internet use is no exception. IAD is a very real issue that can have similar effects to that of drug addiction. If you or someone you love is suffering from an Internet addiction, it is important you contact our team. They will be able to best assist you in seeking treatment and advise you on the next steps. 

What is Internet Addiction?

Though not officially recognised as a disorder, psychiatrists and addiction experts have begun to recognise the growing prevalence of compulsive Internet use among people. In general, Internet Addiction Disorder is subdivided into several categories. The most commonly identified categories of Internet addiction include gaming, social networking, email, blogging, online shopping, and inappropriate Internet use. 

Some experts suggest that the issue isn’t necessarily the amount of time spent on the Internet that is the problem, but rather, how it’s being used. The term internet addiction won’t apply to someone who spends long periods online working. However, someone whose life is being negatively impacted by their use of the internet may have developed an addiction. 

What are the Stages of Internet Addiction Disorder?

Similarly to behavioural addictions and substance abuse disorders, there has been a staged progression of IAD proposed by professionals. It is important to be aware that the stages can of course differ within individuals. The proposed stages below are a guideline as opposed to a set-in-stone timeline of what might be considered a progression towards an addiction. 

The basic process of an IAD may follow this sequence. 

  • First exposure: The ease of accessibility to the Internet today means that most people’s exposure is happening at a very young age. Exposure to these kinds of activities can take place at any age.
  • Increased familiarisation: At this point, you may begin to engage in the activity in question, for example, shopping online, on a more regular basis. 
  • Growing obsession: The activity gradually becomes a greater significance within your life. This may begin to present as neglect of other responsibilities such as scheduled commitments, missing obligations, neglecting relationships. This would all be in order to continue to engage in the activity. You may become increasingly preoccupied with the activity, possibly finding concentration on other matters difficult.  
  • Changes in behaviour: At this point, you may begin to display changes in behaviour. Deception and lying are the first common signs that you might be trying to conceal your internet use from others. You may become irritable, agitated, and anxious when asked or forced to spend time away from the activity. 
  • Addiction: Engaging in the activity in question is now your overwhelming or even sole priority. All the above stages will have accumulated at this point leaving you feeling isolated and alone. Your physical and mental health will begin to suffer as a result of spending increased time on the activity.  

Signs and Symptoms of Internet Addiction Disorder

As with any addiction, it is important to remember that signs and symptoms are likely to differ from person to person. Internet addiction is every bit as real and potentially dangerous as substance addiction. Harmful compulsive behaviours can affect not only your life but those around you.

Visible signs to look out for in yourself or loved ones include:

  • Excessive time spent online 
  • Unreasonable anxiety or irritation when internet connections are poor/slow or otherwise unavailable 
  • Increased isolation/loneliness 
  • Lack of performance at work or school 
  • Increased anxiety, erratic behaviour 
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of interest in relationships and friendships
  • Unhealthy eating
  • Malnutrition 
  • Lack of fitness
  • Chronic sleep deprivation 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Co-occurring addictions to other behaviours or substances 
  • Financial distress

How is Internet Addiction Treated?

Addiction treatment is available on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Your decision will ultimately be based upon your individual needs and circumstances. While residential rehab is considered to be the most effective form of treatment for internet addiction, clinics like CATCH Recovery offer exceptional outpatient addiction treatment. 

Effective treatment for any addiction consists of a medical detox where necessary. For behavioural addictions such as internet addiction, where no substances are involved an intensive form of psychological therapy is required. 

Treating the psychological aspects of addiction will provide you with the tools you need to maintain long-term sobriety. Psychological dependence is the term used to describe the emotional and mental components of substance use disorder. This is usually characterised by strong cravings for a particular substance or behaviour and the inability to function without it. 

CATCH Recovery uses evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), grief and trauma therapy, one-to-one counselling sessions, group therapy and online therapy. We also teach relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation which can help with managing stressful situations such as the compulsion to engage in certain behaviours. 

 Whether it’s residential rehab or intensive outpatient therapy, finishing a programme can also feel daunting. You may feel overwhelmed without the structure and safety you’ve become accustomed to. With this in mind, we have created an exceptional aftercare programme designed to prevent relapse and help you deal with the stressors of everyday life. 

Treatment for Internet Addiction in London

The Internet has become such a vast aspect of our daily lives so it can be hard to identify if and when a person’s Internet use has become problematic. When looking for treatment for Internet Addiction Disorder, it is important to speak to trained professionals who can assess each individual situation and make the appropriate treatment recommendations. 

At CATCH Recovery, our team of addiction specialists have many years of experience treating internet addiction. If you’re looking for treatment in the South East of England, you can call our admissions team for your free addiction screening, and they will be able to advise you on the next steps. 

Our outpatient clinic is based in South West London, which is accessible from anywhere in the UK. If you need support but don’t live in the South East of England, you may benefit from the tele-health services we offer. If you require residential rehab, we also provide referrals to rehabs in the UK and Ireland. Call us today to discuss the different options that are available.