Identifying and Treating Internet Addiction Among Australians

Internet addiction is rife in Australia with as many as 13.4 million individuals spending in excess of 18 hours online according to the Psychological Society’s Stress and Well-Being in Australia Report.

There is more than one type of internet addiction that is prevalent under modern-day Australians. Online gaming, cyber-sex, cyber relationship, online gambling and obsessive information seeking all have the potential to disrupt an individual’s life tremendously. With addiction affecting so many lives, it is of vital importance to identify the warning signs early on in order to action a timeous course of treatment.

What are the symptoms of internet addiction?

Internet addiction may manifest itself in a variety of ways, some physical and some emotional.  Some of the most common emotional signs of such an addiction include unexplained anxiety that often leads to severe depression, dishonesty, a distinct inability to prioritise tasks and immeasurable feelings of guilt.

Mood swings, aggression, and social isolation are all general signs of abuse that also often present themselves in internet addiction.

The physical impact of addiction

Spending countless hours a day glued to a PC, tablet or smartphone screen can have a huge impact on your physical health and well-being. Carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, insomnia, and backache are all very common and very unpleasant physical signs of addiction and can, over time, result in serious medical conditions. Drastic weight changes, coupled with poor personal hygiene and dry, watery and red eyes are all also telltale sales of a serious internet addiction.

The internet has great benefits too

Despite the seriousness of internet addiction, it is important to acknowledge the ways in which technology benefits our daily lives as well.  Not only does the internet make it possible to access a world of information with a few clicks of a button but it also makes communication across vast distances increasingly easier.  Technology has also positively revolutionised our own homes, making them increasingly accessible, especially for seniors and other individuals with limited mobility. The way we cook, clean, and spend time with our families have all changed thanks to technologies such as the internet and can, when embraced in moderation, be of immense benefit to us.

Treating an internet addiction

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that can be swallowed to cure internet addiction. There are, however, a number of very effective therapies available for someone living with an addiction to the internet. Traditional cognitive-behavioural approaches continue to be widely implemented while an increasing number of alternative therapies are being employed with great effect. In some cases, the use of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) may be subscribed to ease certain symptoms of the addiction including anxiety and depression. An in- or outpatient addiction recovery program may also be prescribed, depending on the severity of the addiction.

Addiction is not selective and can affect anyone at any given time. While it is often hard to identify and treat, overcoming addiction is by no means an impossible feat and can make a vast difference in the lives of anyone who has been caught in its unyielding clutches.

This article was kindly written and contributed by Chrissy Jones.


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