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Best Internet Addiction Treatment Centers in United States

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Internet addiction, also known as problematic internet use, includes excessive and uncontrollable internet usage that interferes with daily life, relationships, work, or school. Although it’s not officially recognized as a clinical disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it shares similarities with other forms of behavioral addiction.

Symptoms of Internet Addiction

The symptoms of internet addiction can vary from person to person, and oftentimes they’re similar to symptoms of other mental health conditions. However, if you think you or someone you know is displaying the signs of internet addiction, it may be time to seek help. The symptoms can include:

  1. Obsession with the internet: Constantly thinking about being online or planning how to spend more time online.
  2. Loss of control: Inability to limit or control the amount of time spent online.
  3. Neglecting responsibilities: Neglecting work, hobbies, or social activities to spend more time online.
  4. Withdrawal symptoms: Feeling restless, irritable, or anxious when not able to access the internet.
  5. Neglecting well-being: Poor personal hygiene, skipping meals, or neglecting proper sleep to spend more time online.
  6. Negative impact on relationships: Neglecting loved ones or having strained relationships due to excessive internet use.
  7. Compulsive behavior: Engaging in repetitive or compulsive online activities, such as excessive gaming, gambling, social media use, or shopping.

Causes and Risks of Internet Addiction

Internet use, like drugs, alcohol, and food, trigger the release of reward chemicals in the brain. Over time, you can become dependent on that chemical release, causing you to compulsively be online. More factors that might cause internet addiction include:

  1. Pre-existing mental health conditions: Depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can make you more susceptible to developing internet addiction.
  2. Personality traits: Certain personality traits, such as impulsivity, sensation seeking, and a tendency toward addictive behaviors, can increase the likelihood of developing internet addiction.
  3. Environmental factors: Factors such as a lack of parental supervision, family conflicts, or a home that encourages excessive internet use can contribute to the development of internet addiction, especially in children and adolescents.
  4. Escapism: You may turn to the internet to escape from real-life stressors and emotional difficulties. The online world can be a temporary distraction from personal issues, leading to excessive internet use.

Over time, chronic internet obsession can lead to a myriad of issues. You may have work or school challenges if you’re unable to focus and complete tasks because of your amount of internet use. You might isolate yourself, straining your relationships. You could also exacerbate any co-occurring disorders you have. And due to the amount of time spent online, your sedentary lifestyle can spur physical health problems, too.

Treating Internet Addiction

Treating Internet addiction typically involves a combination of therapeutic interventions, self-help strategies, and lifestyle changes. The first step will likely be a temporary break from internet use, or a digital detox. This detox can help you gain perspective, reset your habits, and reestablish a healthier relationship with technology.

You’ll engage in different forms of talk therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), to help you identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with your internet addiction. You can begin to change your behaviors by developing healthier coping strategies and improving self-regulation skills. Your therapist may also recommend that you join a support group, like Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous, to learn from peers and build a recovery community.

Developing positive coping skills can help you deal with stress, uncomfortable emotions, and cravings that might trigger excessive internet use. With licensed professionals, you can learn different relaxation techniques, problem-solving strategies, stress management techniques, and emotional regulation skills.

Some people with internet addiction may need a more intensive level of care to help monitor and manage their symptoms. When talking to your doctor, consider discussing which level of care best fits your needs:

  1. Outpatient (OP): You’ll meet 1-2x per week with your provider and others in treatment.
  2. Intensive outpatient (IOP): You’ll meet 3-5x per week for several hours at a time for more intensive care.
  3. Partial hospitalization (PHP): You’ll meet 5-7 times a week for a full day.
  4. Residential: You’ll live in a rehab for 28+ days and engage in treatment with a comprehensive staff and a community of peers.
  5. Inpatient: You’ll live in a treatment center or hospital-like setting and have 24/7 monitoring.

Questions to Ask My Provider

Once you decide that you need professional treatment, talk to your primary care physician. They can give you an evaluation and referrals to specialists that can help. To navigate your different treatment options, you may want to discuss some important questions with your provider:

  1. How does a digital detox work?
  2. What coping strategies can I learn to manage my internet use?
  3. How often should I attend therapy sessions, and how long does each session typically last?
  4. Are there any potential co-occurring mental health issues that need to be addressed?
  5. What ongoing support is available through treatment and after treatment?
  6. Will I need to make any lifestyle changes or adjustments during treatment?
  7. How can I gradually reintegrate digital technology into my life in a balanced way?

How to Help Someone with Internet Addiction

Supporting someone with internet addiction requires empathy and patience. Ask them about what they’re experiencing, and listen without judgment. Create a safe and supportive environment where they feel comfortable sharing.

Encourage professional help. Offer to help them find resources or accompany them to appointments. You can also learn more about internet addiction and its effects to understand what the person is going through. You may find this through online research or by asking your primary care practitioner how you can best help your loved one. This knowledge can help you provide appropriate support.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, call 911 or go to the emergency room. If you live outside of the United States, you can find your country’s emergency number in this list.

How to Prevent Internet Addiction

Maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle can prevent you from developing internet addiction. You can cultivate a range of offline hobbies like exercising, reading books, spending time with friends and family, and participating in community events. These activities will also serve as a positive way to navigate negative thoughts and emotions without the internet. Having a well-rounded life can reduce the temptation to depend on the internet for fulfillment.

If you have children, encourage plenty of activities that don’t involve technology. This will also benefit their overall physical and mental health. And you can monitor and manage their internet use through website blockers, time management apps, and screen time tracking apps.

Prevention is key, and developing healthy habits early on can help maintain a balanced relationship with the internet.

FAQs

How long does treatment at an internet addiction treatment center last?

Treatment duration is typically determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account your needs and the care team's recommendations. Treatment usually is 30+ days and can last as long as your recovery needs require.

What qualifications should I look for in an internet addiction center?

You should verify that the staff are licensed and accredited professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists. Because internet addiction can be complex, you can also look for a treatment center that specializes in internet addiction therapy. And ensure that the treatment center uses a variety of evidence-based therapeutic approaches for internet addiction.

Can I use insurance to cover the cost of treatment at an internet addiction treatment center?

Most internet addiction rehabs take insurance to help cover the cost of treatment. You can check if a certain center takes your insurance by going to their insurance verification form found on their website. If you cannot find this, call their admissions office.

Click here to read more about insurance coverage for rehab.

What happens after completing treatment at an internet addiction treatment center?

After completing a residential internet addiction program, you’ll likely step down into an outpatient program. There are varying levels of outpatient care, which include partial hospitalization programs (PHP), intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and outpatient services.

Are internet addiction rehabs only for severe cases?

No, internet addiction treatment facilities are not exclusively for severe cases. While treatment centers do provide specialized care for individuals with severe internet addiction, they also cater to individuals across the spectrum of internet addiction and their varying levels of severity.

Explore Top Treatment Destinations

Residential rehab offers you or your loved one the opportunity to start anew in a setting tailored to your needs. With a variety of available options, one is sure to be perfect for you.

Arizona

Enjoy beautiful natural scenery and treatment from experienced providers.

Colorado

Experience quality treatment with awe-inspiring views in naturally beautiful settings.

New England

A top treatment destination featuring the latest clinical research and east-coast charm.