While many know of the deep struggles caused by alcoholism, drugs, and even gambling, few understand the impact of excessive Internet use. Internet addiction is a new field of study that is showing startling information on how technology is overstimulating the brain and wreaking havoc on the development of children. The results show that Internet addiction causes the same effects as other dangerous activities, yet it is far more accessible and viewed by the public as harmless. Best Drug Rehabilitation hopes to highlight some of the specific areas of Internet addiction and provide families with information on the effects of these online activities.
Defining Internet Addiction
So far there is no clear way to define Internet addiction and most studies have not separated the different types of activities involved with the problem. However, recent studies in neuroscience have confirmed that dopamine rushes hit the brain from Internet use and in some people, the body’s dopamine receptors break down causing cravings for more activity. Dopamine is a natural chemical in the body released in a way similar to a reward system for the brain. This happens with chocolate cake, exercise, or a personal achievement. While dopamine is a good thing for the body, alcohol, drugs, and the Internet can lead to dangerous problems with how the brain handles the excess chemical.
The most concerning factor for Internet addiction is that young adults are the biggest demographic. Today’s children are growing up on the Internet and by the time they reach their late teens and early twenties, the impact of Internet addiction can already be present. However, older demographics are at risk as well, particularly people that spend a great deal of time on the Internet whether for work or pleasure.
One of the most common forms of Internet addiction comes in the form of a previously recognized problem. Those suffering from the problems of gambling now have easier access to the activity via the Internet. Even more important, those that would never have placed bets on sports, gone to casinos, or played the lottery are now finding ways to gamble online in more stimulating ways. The Internet is breeding new types of gamblers that are being hooked on its ease of access.
Online Video Games
While most of the controversial discussions regarding video games pertaining to the use of violence and sexual imagery, the threat of addiction in online gaming often goes unnoticed. Today’s online games are focused on keeping users playing without a finish. Games utilize an “endless” strategy where users can never finish the game, only increase scores, improve their online characters, or unlock new levels. While the industry is focused on finding new ways to get players to keep paying for games, the effect is leading to excess use and addiction.
Internet pornography is completely different than older forms of the material. The Internet has allowed users to view more sexual imagery and behavior in a single day than could be seen in an entire lifetime without the Internet. Dopamine’s impact on the brain is most apparent in areas of reproductive desire. However, this is the biggest problem with Internet pornography. People are training their brains to want the images and videos seen online instead of real-life partners. Internet pornography has created a drastic rise in erectile dysfunction, even for men in their twenties. The porn industry is one of the biggest and most expanding markets, producing more content daily, and making Internet porn the most readily available form of addiction.
The real question about Internet addiction concerns the effects on peoples’ lives. Users are experiencing physical, emotional, and psychological issues. Internet addiction can lead to isolation, depression, anxiety, fear of social activity, financial problems, and family issues. Like any addiction, it consumes the life of the addict, stealing time, money, and functional ability. With the constant availability of the Internet, this addiction can cause tremendous problems in workers who cannot stop their online activities as well as children who are kept from socializing and developing their brains in the real world. The effects of Internet pornography are particularly alarming as this addiction causes problems with reproduction and severe effects on the brain’s wiring. Family members are also affected by a loved one’s Internet addiction. Through educational resources and professional help, families can understand that loved ones are addicted to these online activities and in need of recovery and emotional support.
Awareness and acceptance are the first steps towards recovering from Internet addiction. While the rest of the world is still studying Internet addiction and its effects, those whose lives have been affected can take action and get themselves help. Speaking with qualified professionals, counselors, and support groups can help people decide what they can do to recover. Those who are struggling, as well as concerned family members, can contact Best Drug Rehabilitation for more information on Internet addiction and available treatment solutions.