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Internet addiction, also known as problematic internet use or compulsive internet use, is a behavioural addiction characterised by excessive use of the internet and the inability to control the time spent online. This addiction is a growing concern, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, internet addiction can lead to several negative consequences, including social isolation, lack of productivity, and relationship problems. It is essential to recognise the signs and symptoms of someone who is addicted to the internet and seek treatment to overcome it.

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Online addiction is a serious issue that can have adverse effects on an individual’s mental, physical, and social well-being. Seeking treatment and implementing preventative measures can help individuals overcome this addiction and lead healthier, more balanced lives.

If you would like to treat internet addiction, please make sure to contact our team today and we can provide you with help and support.

What Is Internet Addiction?

Internet addiction refers to the excessive and compulsive use of the Internet that interferes with daily life.

It is characterised by a strong urge to be online, loss of control over how much you use the internet, neglect of personal responsibilities, and withdrawal symptoms when not online.

Online addiction can manifest in various forms such as excessive gaming, youtube addiction, social media use, or online shopping. It can have negative effects on mental and physical health, relationships, and academic or professional performance.

Recognising the signs and seeking professional help is crucial in addressing and treating internet addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Internet Addiction

Excessive internet use can lead to addiction, which can impact various aspects of a person’s life.

Recognising the signs and symptoms of internet addiction is crucial in seeking help and treatment. Some indicators include:

If you or someone you know is showing these signs, it may be necessary to seek professional assistance to address internet addiction.

Causes of Internet Addiction

The causes of internet addiction can vary, but there are several common factors to consider. These include:

  1. Easy access: The widespread availability and accessibility of the internet make it easy for individuals to spend excessive amounts of time online.
  2. Escapism: Some people turn to the internet as a means of escaping from real-life problems or stressors.
  3. Social connection: The internet provides a platform for social interaction and connection, which can be appealing for those who struggle with social anxiety or loneliness.
  4. Dopamine release: Engaging in online activities, such as social media or gaming, can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, creating a pleasurable experience that can lead to addiction.
  5. Lack of self-regulation: Some individuals may have difficulty self-regulating their internet usage, leading to excessive and compulsive behaviour.

Understanding the causes of internet addictions is crucial in developing effective strategies for prevention and treatment.

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How is Internet Addiction Diagnosed?

Diagnosing internet addiction involves a thorough assessment of a person’s behaviour and symptoms. Here are the steps typically followed in diagnosing internet addiction:

  1. Screening: Professionals use standardised questionnaires to assess the extent of internet use and the impact it has on daily life.
  2. Criteria evaluation: They evaluate if the person meets the criteria for internet addiction, such as excessive internet use, preoccupation with online activities, withdrawal symptoms, and negative consequences.
  3. Psychological evaluation: A comprehensive psychological assessment is conducted to rule out other underlying mental health conditions.
  4. Diagnostic interview: Professionals conduct an in-depth interview to gather information about the person’s internet use, behaviour patterns, and emotional well-being.
  5. Collateral information: They may also gather information from family members or close friends to gain a broader perspective on the person’s internet use and its impact.

By following these steps, healthcare professionals can accurately diagnose internet addiction and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Effects of Internet Addiction

The prevalence of internet addiction has become a growing concern in today’s society. With the constant availability and use of the internet, many individuals may find themselves struggling with this addiction.

In this section, we will explore the various effects of internet addictions, including its impact on physical health, mental well-being, and social relationships.

By understanding the consequences of this addiction, we can better comprehend the importance of seeking proper treatment.

Physical Effects

Internet addiction can have several physical effects on individuals. Here are some steps to consider when addressing the physical effects of internet addiction:

  1. Evaluate posture: Excessive screen time can lead to poor posture. Regularly check and correct your posture to prevent long-term musculoskeletal issues.
  2. Take frequent breaks: Engage in physical activities, such as stretching or walking, to counteract the sedentary nature of internet use and reduce the risk of weight gain and cardiovascular problems.
  3. Practice good sleep hygiene: Limit screen time before bed to ensure better sleep quality and avoid the negative impacts of excessive blue light exposure.
  4. Protect vision: Take breaks and use the 20-20-20 rule (look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes) to reduce eye strain and prevent dry eyes.
  5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and stay hydrated to support overall physical well-being and counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Mental Effects

Internet dependence can have various mental effects on individuals. Here are some steps to address and mitigate these effects:

  1. Psychological Distress: Seek professional help to address symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues resulting from excessive internet use.
  2. Social Isolation: Engage in offline activities, such as hobbies, sports, or spending time with friends and family, to foster social connections and reduce isolation.
  3. Poor Concentration: Practice mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to improve focus and concentration.
  4. Decreased Productivity: Develop a structured schedule, set goals, and limit distractions to enhance productivity and time management skills.
  5. Sleep Disruption: Establish a bedtime routine, limit screen time before bed, and create a technology-free sleep environment to promote better sleep quality.
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Social Effects

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Treatment Options for Internet Addiction

Internet addiction can have a significant impact on one’s life and relationships. If you or a loved one are struggling with this addiction, it is important to seek out treatment. In this section, we will discuss the various treatment options available for internet addiction.

From therapy and counselling to medications and support groups, each option offers a unique approach to overcoming this addiction.

Let’s explore these treatment options in more detail and discover which may be the most effective for you.

Therapy and Counselling

Cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling are important components of treating internet addiction. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Seek professional help: Find a therapist or counsellor who specialises in addiction and has experience with internet addiction.
  2. Evaluate your internet use: Through therapy, identify the underlying causes and triggers of your addiction.
  3. Develop coping strategies: Learn healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress and emotions without relying on the internet.
  4. Address underlying issues: Therapy can help address any underlying mental health conditions contributing to the addiction.
  5. Create a treatment plan: Work with your therapist to develop a personalised treatment plan that includes cognitive behavioural therapy sessions and specific goals.
  6. Build a support system: Engage in support groups or involve supportive friends and family members in your treatment process.
  7. Practice self-care: Explore activities and hobbies that promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle, helping to replace problematic internet use.


Medications can be a helpful component in the treatment of internet addiction. Here are some steps to consider when using medications:

  1. Consult a healthcare professional: Talk to a doctor or psychiatrist who specialises in addiction medicine to determine if medication is appropriate.
  2. Assessment: The healthcare professional will evaluate your symptoms, medical history, and overall condition to determine the most suitable medication.
  3. Possible medications: Common medications for addiction include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilisers.
  4. Individualised treatment: The healthcare professional will prescribe a medication and dosage tailored to your specific needs, considering factors such as age, overall health, and potential interactions with other medications.
  5. Monitoring and adjustment: Regular follow-up appointments are essential to monitor the effectiveness of the medication and make any necessary adjustments.

Support Groups

Support groups play a crucial role in helping individuals overcome internet addiction by providing a supportive environment to share experiences and learn from others. Here are some steps to consider when participating in support groups:

  1. Research and find support groups specific to internet addiction disorder.
  2. Attend regular meetings to establish connections with others facing similar challenges.
  3. Share your experiences openly and listen to others without judgment.
  4. Participate in group activities and discussions to gain insights and coping strategies.
  5. Follow any guidelines or rules set by the support group to maintain a safe and respectful atmosphere.
  6. Build a support network by exchanging contact information with fellow members.
  7. Stay committed to attending meetings and actively engaging in the support group process.

How to Prevent Internet Addiction

As the use of technology continues to increase, internet addiction has become a growing concern.

However, there are steps that can be taken to prevent and manage this addiction.

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In this section, we will discuss practical ways to decrease screen time, set healthy boundaries, and find alternative activities to reduce reliance on the internet.

By implementing these strategies, individuals can take control of their internet usage and prevent the negative effects of addiction.

Limit Screen Time

Limiting screen time is crucial in preventing and managing internet addiction disorder. Here are steps to help limit screen time:

  1. Set specific time limits for screen use, such as 1-2 hours per day.
  2. Use apps or built-in device settings to track and manage screen time.
  3. Create designated technology-free zones or times, like during meals or before bedtime.
  4. Encourage and engage in offline activities, such as hobbies, exercise, or socialising.
  5. Establish screen-free days or weekends to promote a healthy balance.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries is an essential step in managing internet addiction. Here are some steps to help establish and maintain healthy boundaries:

  1. Evaluate your current internet usage and identify areas where you need to set boundaries.
  2. Establish limits on the amount of time you spend online each day.
  3. Designate specific times during the day when you will be offline.
  4. Create tech-free zones in your home, such as the bedroom or dining area.
  5. Communicate your boundaries to family and friends, asking for their support.
  6. Use technology tools, like timers or website blockers, to enforce your boundaries.
  7. Engage in alternative activities, such as exercise or hobbies, to fill the time you would have spent online.

Find Alternative Activities

Finding alternative activities is crucial in overcoming internet addiction disorder and developing healthier habits. Here are some steps to help individuals find alternative activities:

  1. Identify the triggers or situations that lead to excessive internet use.
  2. Set a timer for internet usage and stick to it.
  3. Find a hobby or activity that you enjoy and can do instead of using the internet.
  4. Make plans with friends or family to engage in activities together.
  5. Limit screen time before bed and find a relaxing activity to do instead.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is internet addiction and how does it impact individuals in the UK?

Internet addiction disorder is a widespread issue in society today, particularly in the UK where the Internet is an essential part of daily life.

According to recent statistics, 28.7% of UK users in 2020 deemed social media use essential for work commitments.

This addiction refers to excessive use of the internet that interferes with daily life and can have serious consequences on an individual’s health and well-being.

What are the characteristics of internet addiction and how does it compare to other behavioural addictions?

Addiction works on the brain’s pleasure centres, and internet addiction can be just as powerful as other behavioural addictions. The pleasure of the internet comes from the constant stimulation it provides, such as the reward of notifications.

This can create a strong craving or compulsive urge to continue using the internet, making it difficult to disconnect and causing detrimental consequences in personal lives.

How does internet addiction develop and how can it be treated?

Similar to other addictions, repeated and heavy use of the internet can lead to building tolerance and the need for longer periods of use to achieve the same effect.

Treatment programmes, such as bespoke plans and 12-step rehabilitation programmes, can help individuals overcome their addiction and learn healthy ways to use the Internet.

It is important to seek help and address this serious problem since internet addiction can have a widespread impact on individuals and society as a whole.

Is internet addiction considered a mental illness and how is it diagnosed?

Internet addiction is not currently classified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association or the World Health Organisation.

However, it is recognised as an impulse control disorder and may be diagnosed by a diagnosing physician using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or the International Classification of Diseases.

What are some common signs and symptoms of internet addiction?

Compulsive internet use, difficulty controlling usage, neglecting personal responsibilities, and using the internet as a way to escape from problems are some common signs of internet addiction disorder.

Other symptoms may include withdrawal symptoms when not using the internet, a loss of interest in other activities, and continued use despite experiencing negative consequences.

Is there a way to prevent internet addiction and what resources are available for treatment?

While the internet has become an essential part of daily life, it is important to recognise when it becomes an addiction and seek help.

Resources such as self-help groups, 12-step rehabilitation programmes, and bespoke treatment plans are available for treating addiction.

It is essential to raise public awareness and provide support for individuals struggling with internet addiction disorder, as well as continue to monitor and analyse the issue as technology and its impact on society evolves.

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