Understanding Internet Addiction and Rehab Treatment Options

Internet addiction involves a lack of impulse control that causes a lack of management and control of temptation with regards to using the Internet. It is characterised by using the Internet for long periods of time with very short intervals between usage sessions.

Internet addiction can be the result of a number of factors. However, the most common are depression, stress and anxiety, which can lead to escapism through the Internet. Common forms of Internet addiction include compulsively checking and participating in Internet forums and social media, playing online games for extended periods of time, gambling online and viewing Internet pornography.

Another common form of Internet addiction is obsessively sharing details about one’s life on social media. Often-used platforms for this include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media sites where individuals can chronicle their lives. Individuals suffering from this type of Internet addiction may find that they struggle with accommodating their personal, social and professional responsibilities in their everyday routines.

There are a number of treatment facilities that offer help for Internet addiction sufferers. These include inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities, which an individual can choose between depending on the extent of their Internet addiction and how much care and attention they need.

What drives Internet addiction?

Internet addiction is similar to various forms of substance abuse such as alcoholism, based on the effect it has on an individual’s brain. Through providing an escape or what may be described as a high, it facilitates the release of dopamine in the brain, leading to feelings of pleasure and reward.

These feelings commonly arise when sufferers play computer games, receive likes, retweets or any form of positive feedback for the content shared online or interact with other users on virtual platforms.

Continued use of the Internet for this purpose leads to a buildup of tolerance, which can cause individuals to want to share more content, receive more feedback and generally use the Internet for extended periods of time so that the feelings retain their intensity.

Internet addiction can also be driven by escapism. Individuals with anxiety and depression may find the Internet more welcoming and less hostile than how they perceive the world. This can lead to them spending long periods of time online, where they feel a sense of comfort.

What to Expect from Internet Addiction Treatment

Internet addiction treatment often involves helping compulsive Internet users to overcome the urge to constantly be online. Most treatment facilities achieve this by restricting the amount of time an individual spends online or restricting Internet usage altogether, depending on the extent of the addiction.

This allows the dopamine levels in the brains of Internet addiction sufferers to return to normal and more balanced levels.

While some addiction treatment facilities control the use of the particular sites an individual is addicted to, complete abstinence from the Internet has been proven to be more effective in recalibrating the reward and pleasure centres of the brain for people suffering from Internet addiction.

Internet addiction often involves various forms of therapy that are designed to help overcome Internet addiction, along with any concurrent disorders that may be present. Individual therapy is commonly used, and it may be coupled with group therapy to provide individuals with a sense of community.

Internet addiction therapy may also consist of various activities that are meant to help with individuals return to their usual routines after rehab. Because of the pervasive nature of the Internet, relapse can be harder to manage. Some of the activities and therapies in Internet addiction treatment are designed to help individuals to find ways to return to normal, healthy lives in a way that fits their exact circumstances.

Process Addiction Screening and Assessment

During addiction screening and assessment, rehab staff explore the exact nature of the problems an individual is experiencing with online addiction. This allows for a treatment plan to be tailored to their specific needs.

Internet addiction exists in various forms, making it necessary for rehab staff to assess individuals and identify the unique features of their addiction. For example, addiction to gambling online and addiction to social media might require different approaches.

Process Addiction Therapy

Process addictions are addictions that do not necessarily involve the intake of drugs or alcohol. Psychotherapy is a commonly used method of treating process addictions. It can help an individual to understand why they are struggling to resist the impulse to overuse the Internet, despite it disrupting other areas of their life. This understanding allows an individual can be guided to develop ways to overcome their addiction.

Other times of therapy used during process addiction are family therapy and group therapy, which give Internet addiction sufferers the chance to recover with the aid and support of their families as well as other people in similar circumstances. These types of therapy are also meant to encourage a sense of community and belonging, which can make recovery more comfortable and relapse less likely.

Addiction Education

Addiction education can help individuals to learn more about the causes of their addiction and how best they can overcome it. This can help them to have a better understanding of the processes involved in their treatment, which can help them be more at ease as they begin their recovery.

Addiction education is also meant to help individuals to avoid developing other process addictions. This is often highly important as overcoming one process addiction can leave an individual prone to developing another. Learning about addictions can help individuals to recognise the patterns of a developing addiction and seek help,

Addiction education can also make it possible for individuals to track their progress as they recover from Internet addiction.

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Follow-up and aftercare (to avoid relapse)

Because of the prevalence and accessibility of the Internet, former Internet addiction sufferers find that aftercare is effective for helping them to live an addiction-free life. Aftercare involves all the support an individual receives after treatment, and it can be highly beneficial in helping individuals to apply the lessons they learned in rehab in their day-to-day lives.

Through aftercare, individuals receive ongoing support to help them avoid overusing the Internet. Aftercare also offers the opportunity for an individual to track their progress after completing rehab as well as the benefits they have experienced as a result of overcoming Internet addiction.

Dual diagnosis in Internet addiction treatment and rehab

Dual diagnoses are common in Internet addiction treatment and rehab. Many of the people who suffer from Internet addiction may use the Internet as a means of escape. Others use it as a substitute for real-world interaction with people.

Depression commonly co-occurs with Internet addiction, as do generalised anxiety disorder and social anxiety. When structuring an individual’s treatment, rehab staff may take dual diagnoses into account to treat both disorders simultaneously. [3]

Where there is a dual diagnosis in treatment and rehab, Internet addiction is usually treated along with co-occurring disorders, especially if they led to the development of Internet addiction.

Duration of Internet Addiction Rehabilitation

The duration of Internet rehabilitation varies based on several factors. The severity and the type of addiction, as well as the presence of concurrent disorders, can influence how long Internet rehabilitation will take.

Some Internet addiction rehabilitation programs are as short as 28 days. These are usually suited to individuals with mild Internet addictions that can be treated in that space of time while keeping the risk of relapse low.

For individuals whose addictions are more severe, rehab programs can extend up to three months. These are usually for severe addictions that require extensive treatment before an individual can leave rehab and return to their regular routine without a substantial risk of relapse.

Internet Addiction Treatment and Rehab Success Rate

Different sources put the success rate for Internet addiction and treatment between 76% and 81%. It is, however, largely accepted that exact figures are difficult to ascertain; not all people who relapse return to rehab, and not all of those who have successful treatments are accounted for in the statistics.

Internet addiction treatment and rehab have been largely successful because most rehabs and treatment facilities offer solutions that many individuals find to be highly effective in controlling their use of the Internet.

The main challenge is using the web in the ways that are necessary in modern life, such as reading and responding to emails and conducting research, while staying away from sites that are harmful.

12-Step Programme for Internet Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Twelve-step programmes have been proven to increase the chances of successful recovery. The 12-step programmes used in Internet addiction treatment are similar to those that may be used in treatment for substance abuse. They provide encouragement, support and accountability for people intending to overcome their addictions.

The first step of a 12-step programme for Internet addiction involves accepting that addiction to the Internet has made the life of an individual unmanageable in some way. The second step usually focuses on accepting that steps can be taken to address this. Some programmes use a religious variation of the second step.

The following step of the 12-step programme for Internet addiction involves an individual promising one’s self that they will strive to overcome their addiction, as well as any unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Other steps of the 12-step programme for Internet addiction treatment and rehab are focused on making amends to people an individual has harmed in any way due to their addiction. The main goal of 12-step programmes is to enable recovering Internet addiction sufferers to learn principles that can help them to avoid relapse, as well as to live their lives in ways that don’t foster addiction.

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Therapy in Internet Addiction Treatment

Various forms of therapy and psychotherapy are used in Internet addiction treatment. They are designed to assist individuals as they work towards overcoming their addictions.

Some forms of therapy are meant to help individuals understand the impact of their addiction, which can help them to be more resolute about recovering. Through these forms of therapy, individuals may be encouraged to try to grasp the effects their addictions have had on them personally and professionally, as well as how they have affected those around them.

Some of the forms of therapy used in Internet addiction are meant to help an individual realise the thought and behaviour patterns that led to them developing an Internet addiction. Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most popular type of therapy used for this purpose.

Other forms of therapy used in Internet addiction treatment are meant to help individuals to realise the ways in which they can develop healthy coping mechanisms that are effective in helping them to avoid relapse in the future. Coping-focused psychotherapy is a type of therapy that is commonly used to achieve this.

Therapeutic recreational activities

Many Internet addiction programmes include therapeutic recreational activities. These are activities that individuals can engage in for both their enjoyment and to help them in their recovery process. Therapeutic recreational activities often include sports, arts and crafts and dance, among others.

Rehab facilities may offer different types of therapeutic recreational activities to allow individuals to choose those that appeal to them.

Therapeutic activities are meant to give individuals the means to occupy and enjoy themselves. They’re often done in group settings, which encourages social interaction among people with similar interests.

For individuals whose Internet addiction resulted from anxiety and depression, therapeutic recreational activities can give them a healthy means of coping as they receive treatment for those disorders as well.

Behavioural Therapy for Internet Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Behavioural therapy for Internet addiction aims to help individuals suffering from Internet addiction to understand the unhealthy and self-destructive behaviours that might have resulted in their addiction. Often, the focus of this treatment is how to change those behaviours.

Behavioural therapy for Internet addiction typically encompasses treating Internet addiction along with underlying mental disorders that may be a cause. These are often depression, social anxiety and generalised anxiety disorder.

The Role of Counselling in Internet Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Counselling in Internet addiction treatment can help individuals to work through their addiction process with the help of a counsellor. Many rehab facilities offer counselling in a confidential one-on-one environment that is meant to encourage individuals to be more expressive about their experience.

Counselling also helps individuals suffering from Internet addiction to understand the impact their addiction had on themselves and those around them. They may be guided by a counsellor to explore how the Internet affected their personal, professional and social life.

The emotional aspects of Internet addiction and rehab are the main focus of counselling. Individuals may be encouraged to speak more about the emotions they felt when they were addicted and the emotions they are experiencing as they recover.

Counselling can also include speaking about the individual’s prospects after rehab, as they will be able to attempt what Internet addiction hindered them from doing.

Individual vs Group Therapy

Individual therapy for Internet addiction tends to be effective in helping individuals understand the root causes of their addiction. Therapists work with Internet addiction sufferers to explore the causes of the addiction, which typically include unhealthy behaviour and thought patterns and unresolved emotional trauma. The one-on-one conversational style of individual therapy allows for clear communication, which is critical for these issues to be understood.

Group therapy for Internet addiction has the benefit of allowing individuals to feel a sense of community with other people facing similar obstacles as them. Group therapy tends to fit well with Internet addiction as one of its common causes is isolation.

Individual therapy is more effective for situations where an individual needs assistance in working through the emotional trauma that their addiction may have caused, as well as in understanding how best they can avoid that happening in the future.

Group therapy, on the other hand, is more effective for helping individuals share their experiences as well as learn from the experiences of others whose situations are similar to their own.

Choosing a Treatment Centre for Internet Addiction Treatment and Rehab

When choosing a treatment centre for Internet addiction and rehab, there are a few factors an individual can consider to ensure that the facility they are choosing will be effective at treating their condition.

The first is whether they want an inpatient or an outpatient treatment centre. The two have their distinct advantages. Which one fits an individual more is largely influenced by the severity of their addiction. For individuals with severe addictions, inpatient rehab centres may be the best option.

Another important consideration is the treatment centre’s history with treating Internet addiction. Some rehab centres may have a higher rate of success with certain types of addiction than others.

Someone choosing an Internet addiction rehab centre to enter can also consider the cost of the treatment facilities. While cost tends to be dependent on the duration of treatment, the cost of rehab can differ significantly from facility to facility. It’s advisable for an individual to choose a facility that fits their budget, after taking health insurance into account, while maintaining the standards necessary to help them overcome their addiction.

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Inpatient Internet Addiction Treatment Programme

Inpatient Internet addiction programmes are those in which an individual resides in the treatment centre for the duration of their treatment.

Inpatient Internet addiction programmes usually have schedules that individuals can follow to help them overcome their addiction. Many of the activities scheduled in inpatient programmes are designed to promote recovery as well as to allow rehab staff to closely monitor the progress of individuals and adjust their treatment methods where necessary.

One of the types of inpatient Internet addiction programmes is luxury or executive Internet rehab. It offers high-level amenities as well as the chance to work while attending rehab. This type is usually for individuals whose professional obligations do not allow them to absent themselves from work totally.

Inpatient Internet addiction programmes are highly advisable for individuals with addictions that are encouraged by the circumstances at their homes or those with severe addictions that require close monitoring and attention.

Advantages of inpatient Internet addiction treatment and rehab centres

Inpatient Internet addiction treatment and rehab centres have several advantages over outpatient programmes. The first is that they offer around-the-clock care, which is commonly recommended when it comes to Internet addiction because of the ease with which sufferers can give in to the impulse.

Particularly in the initial stages of treatment, inpatient addiction treatment centres are effective for ensuring that individuals are abstaining from negative Internet usage. Inpatient rehab centres may have restrictions on their Internet service or may not offer Internet access to clients, which can be highly helpful in encouraging them to stay abstinent.

Inpatient Internet addiction treatment programmes are highly effective when Internet addiction co-occurs with substance abuse. For example, an individual with an Internet addiction as well as alcoholism has a better chance of recovery in an inpatient rehab centre as opposed to an outpatient one because that’s where the care and attention required in such cases are commonly found.

Outpatient Internet Addiction Treatment Programme

Outpatient Internet addiction treatment programmes offer individuals an opportunity to work through their addiction while still maintaining their daily routines. This can be convenient for people who have social or professional obligations they need to meet. They involve individuals receiving treatment during the day and returning to their homes afterwards.

Outpatient Internet addiction treatment programmes are inadvisable for people with severe addictions. During the night, Internet addiction sufferers with very serious addictions may find it difficult to refrain from using the Internet, which may set their progress back.

Outpatient programmes typically involve treatment that amounts to 12 to 20 hours per week. On average, outpatient addiction programmes tend to last longer than inpatient or residential Internet addiction treatment programs.

Short-Term vs Long-Term Treatment

Short-term treatment for Internet addiction can be convenient for those who wish to maintain their normal schedules. With this addiction, however, it often tends to be less effective than long-term treatment, particularly when it comes to severe addictions.

Individuals with severe addictions tend to find the long-term treatment more effective for equipping them to return to their normal lives with a greater ability to resist the impulse to overuse the Internet.

Some short-term treatments can be highly intensive, increasing their effectiveness. They are ideal for people with obligations such as work that don’t allow them to be in rehab for an extended period of time.

Long-term rehab tends to be slower-paced, with each stage in the recovery process taking more time and attention. Long-term treatment is more suitable for people with severe addictions because it allows them to be monitored and helped for a prolonged period of time. During long-term treatment, rehab staff are able to pay close attention to an individual’s recovery and adjust their methods, if needed.

The choice between short-term and long-term rehab largely depends on how much time an individual can afford to spend receiving treatment and the severity of their addiction. Rehab staff are commonly able to advise someone on the duration of treatment best for them based on their unique situation.

All-Age Rehabs vs Specific Age Group Rehabs

Individuals of varying ages can develop Internet addiction. While some rehab facilities are purposed for certain age groups, others accept individuals of all ages. Some rehab facilities accept different age groups and divide individuals accordingly. Others adopt the same approach while allowing certain stages of treatment to be inclusive.

For addictions such as video game addiction that commonly occur to preteens, teenagers and young adults, specific age group rehabs might be the most appropriate option. It allows people of those ages to attend rehab in an environment that lets them recover while socialising with people they are likely to relate to.

Similarly, Internet addictions such as porn addiction and gambling addiction are best treated in specific age group rehabs as they are more prevalent among adults and middle-aged people. These forms of Internet addiction may require specialised care, making it necessary for them to be treated in specific age group rehabs.

Addiction to social media and addiction to online shopping are examples of addictions that can be treated in all-age rehabs without limiting the effectiveness of the treatment.

Gender-Specific vs Mixed Gender Programmes

Gender-specific programmes can at times be effective, particularly among the younger age groups. This is because they allow the rehab staff to focus on therapies and treatments that are proven to be more effective for one gender over the other. For Internet addiction to online games, for example, which disproportionately affects preteen to teenage males, gender-specific programmes can be beneficial. However, there is little evidence to suggest that their effectiveness is far above that of mixed-gender programmes,

particularly when it comes to Internet addiction.Mixed-gender programmes offer individuals the ability to interact with a wider selection of people during group therapy sessions and other group activities. This can be beneficial when it comes to Internet addiction treatment because one of its main causes is often isolation. (6)

Treatment Near Home vs Different City or County

Treatment near home and treatment in a different city or county have various advantages. Which of the two is best for an individual largely depends on their circumstances. For an individual who has a severe Internet addiction, treatment in a different city or county might be the most effective solution. It allows for recovery away from the factors at home that might have contributed to the addiction developing.
For individuals who have inflexible commitments, treatment near home can be convenient, though not necessarily more effective. It can allow them to strike a balance between receiving treatment and meeting their obligations. For this, outpatient Internet addiction programmes are an ideal option. Treatment near home can, however, expose individuals to distractions that might make their recovery more difficult.

Internet Addiction Rehabs and Confidentiality

Internet addiction rehab facilities generally uphold the rights of individuals to privacy. Rehab facilities often have structures that ensure their records and information about their clients is not accessible to outside parties.

To keep Internet addiction rehab private from employers, individuals can use their holiday allocation as the reason for their absence.

For individuals who intend to keep their treatment private, telling neighbours who might gossip is inadvisable. If they want to discuss their treatment with anyone, it is advised they exercise caution in deciding who to confide in.

One way for individuals to keep their Internet addiction mainly to themselves is to let close family members know they are suffering from something complicated, and they will need to take time to recover.

Ensuring that the use of cameras is restricted in the Internet rehab facility an individual chooses to enter is an effective way of making sure that their confidentiality is maintained.

Breaches of confidentiality are highly rare in rehab facilities.

Questions to Ask Treatment Centres

It is beneficial for an individual to gather as much relevant information as they can about a rehab facility before entering. This helps them to get a better understanding of the services that are being offered by the facility. Additionally, it helps them to be comfortable before entering rehab as they will have an understanding of how their treatment will be carried out.

Some important questions to ask before entering rehab is how much their treatment will cost, as well as how long will it take. Knowing the duration of their treatment can help them to plan ahead and schedule any other commitments they have accordingly.

Another essential question to ask is if the treatment centre provides ongoing care. Ongoing care is essential for helping former Internet addiction sufferers to better apply the lessons they received during treatment to avoid relapse.

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Internet Addiction Treatment & Health Insurance

For the majority of rehab entrants, health insurance is the most viable way to pay for rehab. Numerous insurance policies cover different types of addiction treatment, including Internet addiction treatment. The types of insurance that can cover rehab for Internet addiction, as well as other forms of addiction such as substance abuse, include private insurance, state-funded health insurance and military insurance.

When preparing to enter Internet addiction rehab, individuals should speak to their health insurance company and ask if their policy covers Internet addiction treatment. Some insurers may want to know more details about the addiction to evaluate whether or not the policy covers it.

Health insurance companies and policies within those companies tend to differ in the way they operate. It is always prudent for someone who wants to go into rehab to speak with their insurer for clarification.

Many insurance health insurance policies do, however, cover addiction treatment. Internet addiction is gaining wider recognition as a legitimate addiction that requires treatment, and many insurance companies are adapting their policies to reflect this.

Internet Addiction Rehab and Treatment Statistics

Internet addiction is relatively newer than other forms of addiction due to the recent increase in social media sites, pornographic sites, online shopping options, gambling sites and increases in the quality of video games.

It is estimated that there was a 45% rise in the number of people being treated for Internet addiction in the ten years between 2008 and 2018.

With the introduction of new online video games such as Fortnite and Dota 2, Internet addiction treatment cases, especially among preteens to young adults, have more than tripled.

However, new discoveries are being made in effective treatments for Internet addiction, and the methods used are being evolved to reflect the changing nature of the addiction. (4)

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