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What is Internet addiction?

Internet addiction or Internet addiction disorder is excessive computer use that interferes with your daily life.

Certain Internet activities which if done in person would normally be considered troublesome, such as gambling, shopping, sex are called net compulsions. Other Internet activities such as reading or playing computer games are troubling only if they interfere with daily life. Those who support Internet addiction as a legitimate psychological disorder classify Internet addiction into subtypes by the kind of activity on the Internet. Internet addiction activities that are excessive, overwhelming, or obsessive can be classified as problems. These activities can range from inappropriate pornography use, gaming, online social networking (Facebook), blogging, email, or Internet shopping. Those who oppose Internet addiction becoming a legitimate disorder point out that the compulsive behaviors themselves are addictive.

History of Internet addiction

Internet addiction was originally proposed as a disorder in a hoax by Ivan Goldberg, M.D. in 1995. He used gambling addiction as described and diagnosed by the DSM-IV as his model for its description. Internet addiction is not a part of the current DSM although Internet addiction does receive coverage in the press, and there is a possibility for classification of Internet addiction as an actual psychological disorder. This continues to be debated and researched though.

In the past decade Internet addiction has grown in acceptance as a legitimate clinical disorder that requires treatment. Yet there is opposition towards Internet addiction becoming a legitimate disorder.

What’s the cause of Internet addiction?

The cause of Internet addiction links it with pre-existing mental health issues, mental health issues that are most commonly depression. The thought is that this is because virtual interaction does not stimulate neurotransmitters responsible for satisfaction and relaxation, such as oxytocin and endorphin, like real interactions do.

Those with an Internet addiction were known to use the Internet an average of 38 hours a week for nonacademic and non-employment reasons and resulted in poor grades ,discord within couples and reduced work performance.  A little over half of those with an Internet addiction also were following recovery programs for another addiction such as alcoholism, chemical dependency, compulsive gambling, or chronic overeating.

How do I Know if I have an Internet addiction?

There is an Internet Addiction Test (IAT). It is the first instrument to assess Internet addiction. The test measures the extent of a client’s involvement with the computer and classifies the Internet addiction as mild, moderate and severe.  The test for Internet Addiction consists of twenty questions with the responses graded out of 5 which can then produce a score from 0-100.

According to Mark D Griffiths there are five areas of criteria for Internet addiction:

1.       Mood modification due to Internet addiction: The person experiences changes in mood when using the internet (a buzz).
2.       Salience: The person’s Internet addiction dominates their life, feelings and behavior.
3.       Tolerance: Increasing amounts of internet use are needed to achieve the same effects on mood.
4.       Withdrawal Symptoms: If the person stops using the Internet, they experience unpleasant feelings or physical effects.
5.       Relapse: The addict tends to relapse into earlier patters of their Internet addiction, even after years of abstinence or control.


If you or someone you know needs Internet Addiction treatment, call us at 800-951-6135 or visit us online at


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