Read my blog below "Giving Up The Ghost" that highlights my story in the book!

Scott M. Davis, M.D., M.A., FASAM

Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine


Dr. Scott M. Davis, M.D. is an Internist and Addiction Medicine Specialist. Graduating from Boston University School of Medicine in 1991, he completed his medical training in Internal Medicine from the University of California at Irvine and subsequently, a Fellowship in Addiction Medicine with Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Dr. Davis is now widely regarded as a leading expert in the field of Addiction Medicine, garnering requests for his substance abuse expertise from numerous professional organizations and government agencies as diverse as the California Board of Registered Nursing, American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), the U.S. Government’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), and the United States Justice Department. His most recent book is Living Jonathan's Life, (publisher, Health Communications Inc.,released January,2008.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Truth About Internet Addiction

Internet addiction definitely qualifies as an behavioral addiction (while alcohol and other drugs cause chemical addiction). As a person becomes more and more compulsively bound to surfing the Internet, adverse consequences on one’s family, work, and social life can occur as that seen with any other drug addiction. One can become addicted to the Internet in general, avoiding other real-life activities in favor of the online experience. One may also be addicted to particular sites or topic, such as one may become addicted just to online pornography, or even exclusively a certain type of pornography.

Qualifying for Internet addiction, a person’s Internet-accessing behavior would meet the same criteria as for addiction to alcohol or other drugs:

Increasing the frequency or duration of their access time to achieve the same satisfying effect.
Withdrawal symptoms can be seen: when not on the Internet, one can become depressed, anxious, isolative, or irritable
More time, or longer duration spent than what was intended
Persistent desire or failed efforts to control or cut down Internet use.
More time spent in activities to access Internet, use it, or even recover from the use.
Important social, occupational, and recreational activities are given up in favor of the Internet.
Continued and frequent Internet access despite physical, psychological, or social problem that occur as a result of it.

I have seen some extreme examples of Internet addiction where a person is so dependent on their online access that they have become malnourished, physically sick (exhaustion requiring hospitalization), or even psychiatrically unstable (extreme sleep deprivation to the point of hallucinations and psychotic breaks). The same surge in the brain hormone, dopamine, responsible for alcohol and drug addictions, is also seen surging in behavioral addictions such as with the Internet.

At the Betty Ford Center, a patient must have, at least, a primary chemical addiction to alcohol or other drug. But many patients also have a co-existing behavioral addiction, such as Internet addiction. The treatment is the same, as the Internet has become another “drug” for these patients: treatment involving abstinence from computer use (as this will drive Internet “craving”), showing them how they are powerless over their use, and teaching them new tools and skills to integrate them back into real-life and away from their online isolation.

Unfortunately, for so many people, the Internet has become a hi-tech, very easily available drug, that can carry with it the same consequences in life as any chemical. I believe it speaks to the state of our culture as promoting “instant gratification” and “right now” as the technologically advanced Internet provides today. While it certainly is a very powerful tool, with positive benefits to society, it may be undermining more moral values at an even faster pace.

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