If you're reading this, you're almost surely online. Nearly all of us are. An increasing number of jobs involve the Internet. If we're all online all the time, how much use is too much? Online addiction shares some of its attributes with substance-based addictions, including tolerance. Just as an alcoholic can drink more and more with less and less effect, Internet addicts can spend more and more time online but finding less and less enjoyment. Online gamers stay online later and later into the night. People addicted to online pornography seek more and more extreme images and videos to try and reach the same level of excitement they once felt. Eventually no amount of use satisfies.
Trying to Stop...and Failing
Most people with Internet addiction know at some level they have a problem. Many try to stop only to find themselves going back again and again to the sites and apps they swore they'd leave behind. This pattern is the hallmark of out-of-control behavior and a big red flag wherever it appears.
When someone has a problem with Internet addiction and they try to stop but fail, shame sets in. Nobody wants to admit they are "weak" or out-of-control. Sneaking and hiding online behavior from friends, family and coworkers may become a second full-time job. As use accelerates, keeping the facade up becomes impossible.
Costs of Addiction
Internet and pornography addiction is expensive. It costs the sufferer time in ever-increasing amounts. Secretiveness about online behaviors can result in people losing jobs because they fail to show up on time for work, or can't concentrate at work because they are too distracted to perform. Girlfriends, fiances and wives are devastated and furious when they discover their partners' pornography addictions. And roughly a quarter of all auto accidents involved some form of cell phone usage.
Because online addiction demands a large and often growing percentage of a sufferer's time and attention, other major life concerns. Most of us are familiar with students who stall out or flunk out due to too much time online and too little time in the library. For the socially avoidant, the online world provides welcome relief, but distracts and delays addressing the problem of building quality relationships.
Recognizing Internet addiction is only the first step in overcoming the problem. Although many suffer alone, counselling with a specialist in online and Internet addiction can provide motivation, strategies and support to break even longstanding, destructive online behaviors. If you recognize any of the five keys I mentioned above in yourself or someone you love, please give me a call.