How the Internet Helps and Hinders Addiction Treatment

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man smiling at laptop

The World Wide Web is an irreplaceable resource in the modern age, but it can also be an added source of unrest. This dichotomy especially applies to individuals undergoing recovery. Although online forums and psychoeducational texts can be accessed instantly through computers and cellphones, the Internet itself can easily become an additional, addictive element in people’s lives.

Support forums and chatrooms

Since its inception, the primary purpose of the Internet was to connect different and distant populations. This intended function still stands today, as all sorts of people can communicate with one another and share ideas. In the context of recovery, those who access online forums and chatrooms can talk to others experiencing similar issues and exchange supportive thoughts.

On the other hand, Internet users in recovery must also be wary of the opposite type of interaction: verbal abuse. Due to the anonymity that the digital world provides, some web crawlers take advantage of the vulnerabilities of others and antagonize them without reason. Uncovering an online predator is difficult, but it is important to report any malicious speech or harassment to a website’s administrative staff in order to protect other users.

Self-help resources

The Internet is also an ever-growing pool of knowledge for recovering communities. Regardless of the question or quandary, most likely a published article, study, or downloadable resource can offer a practical solution. Furthermore, many treatments centers have incorporated online admission systems that can transition self-help to professional help.

Although these wells of information can be tapped at a moment’s notice, people should also be prepared to encounter misinformation. To a certain extent, the digital world is the forefront of free expression. However, this freedom can come at the cost of individuals who spread false facts due to ignorance or self-interest. In order to navigate around these traps, be sure to fact check statements with multiple, trusted sources. Also, always pair online resources with in-person treatment if behavioral problems begin to affect relationships and responsibilities.

Mobile application vs. addiction

In recent years, popular online tools have transferred from computers to cellphones. This movement has helped recovery information and communities become more accessible. However, many people believe that mobile devices are being used too excessively. According to the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of smartphone users report that their device is not always needed. Conversely, 46 percent of users say that their phone is something they could not live without.

The use and abuse of technology is still being understood by health experts, but it is clear that balance is needed in order to stay productive and nondependent. Individuals who are receiving substance-based treatment must utilize online applications when they are necessary, but overusing these resources can quickly evolve into a new form of addiction. Although it is not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), reported dependencies on technology have drastically impacted the lives of many.

In fact, a 2012 study conducted by a team of King’s College researchers in London found that Internet addiction disorder (IAD) showed evidence of sharing neural mechanisms with other types of substance use and impulse control disorders, including addictions to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and meth.





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