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Pennsylvania Hospital to Start Inpatient Care for Internet Addiction

Update Date: Sep 03, 2013 03:58 PM EDT
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In current day society, people can develop addictions to all kinds of things that are not drug-related. One of the most popular addictions that exist today is the addiction to media. Media includes anything from television to the Internet. Although some people might not believe that an addiction to media is real, a hospital located in Pennsylvania announced that it would start the first ever inpatient treatment program in the United States for people with an addiction to the Internet.

The concept of an Internet addiction is described in a book titled "Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap" written by Kevin Roberts. Roberts, who is now currently 44-years-old describes his own addition to the Internet. He stated that he used to spend eight to 12 hours a day on the computer so that he could play a videogame. The computer took over his social life and interfered with his every day life.

"Like most addicts, I went through a series of self-deception," Roberts admitted according to FOX News.

Unfortunately, Roberts' situation is not unique. Many people might develop Internet addiction, especially if there is something online that they love to do. Due to this new type of addiction that has not gotten any real coverage, a psychiatric hospital has decided to start a program that helps rehabilitate people with an Internet addiction.

This program will start on Sept 9 at the Behavioral Health Services at Bradford Regional Medical Center located in Central Pennsylvania. It is a 10-day voluntary program that was created by experts who have experience dealing with addictions even though the source of addiction might be different. The program focuses on four adult patients at a time. Every day of the program is unique with specific classes designed for each step. The classes are group-based and take place in a hospital wing that houses other types of addicts. During the 10-day span, the patients will learn different ways of reducing their Internet use. The patients will also go through a psychological evaluation.

The program will cost each patient $14,000 since insurance companies will not pay for this type of treatment. The treatment also involved a 72-hour-long detox program that will forbid all Internet and computer use. Although this digital detox might not sound difficult, for people with a real addiction, living without Internet can be extremely frightening. Addicts can experience withdrawal and increase their risk of depression, experience higher irritability and even resort to violence. Young recalls a situation in which one of her patients chewed Styrofoam cups and punched a wall numerous times during the detox period.

"[Internet addiction] is a problem in this country that can be more pervasive than alcoholism," the psychologist who founded this new non-profit program, Dr. Kimberly Young, said. "The Internet is free, legal and fat free."

Despite this new program, Young stressed that dependence for technology should not automatically mean addiction. In order for someone to be diagnosed with a real addiction, people's lives must be negatively affected by their Internet use. The addict would also be incapable of performing daily functions and errands due to the Internet. The concept of an addiction to the Internet was first introduced in the 1990s. With more devices that connect to the Internet, addictions could develop more rapidly than before. This program aims to control this addiction before it ruins more lives.

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