Any behaviour which becomes compulsive is viewed as an addiction. The majority of people will think of this in terms of alcohol and drugs, however we are becoming increasingly aware of behavioural addictions such as sex addiction, co-dependency, shopping and gambling.
Internet addiction comes under what is known as ‘process addictions’ this is a behaviour which is compulsive and causes disastrous consequences for the addict. They may neglect their relationships, work, house hold chores and self care in order to get their next ‘fix’ by going on-line for hours.
Process addictions have been shown to change the chemical pathways in the brain and become associated with reward. The internet addict will need to use more and more and may be on-line for the majority of their waking life, to the detriment of their well-being.
The internet addict may crave going on-line or switch dramatically in mood if they are not able to do so. They may try to stop their behaviour but be unable to do so and keep returning to it.
A person may become addicted to the internet for many reason, a few of them may be:
- easy accessibility of their drug of choice
- an accelerated intimacy with unknown people and relationships
- they can hide behind their anonymity and engage in a fantasy world
- increased attention when engaged on-line
- instant gratification, in particular when engaging in on-line games or cyber sexemotional attachment to their on-line activity and world
To break free of internet addiction there are useful resources available, such as “Caught in the Net” by Kimberly Young and “Hooked on the Net” by Andrew Caragea. It is important to also seek the support of an accredited addictions therapist to assist you in breaking the cycle of internet addiction and start your recovery.