I think most of us at some point have joked about being “Internet addicts”, but in the future it may be an actual documented and acknowledged addiction. The American Psychiatric Association is considering adding Internet addiction to the next edition of their diagnostic manual. While Internet addiction has been acknowledged by several clinics since the early 1990’s, including the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, in Bradford, Pa., and the Connecticut-based Center for Internet Behavior, it would be a large win to be acknowledged by a leader in Psychiatry.

The results from a new nationwide telephone survey show that this is becoming a problem for Americans. Out of 2,500 adults surveyed, 14 percent reported they “found it hard to stay away from the Internet for several days at a time,” and 8 percent said they used the Internet as a way to escape problems. A 2005 study found that the usual suspects-porn and gambling-weren’t reported anymore than other online activities such as chat rooms, checking email every two minutes, blogging. And it seems that the feeling of anonymity is causing people’s inhibitions to be diminished. In a study in the 1990’s of students who sought out counseling, 2-3 percent reported “they either always or often had trouble controlling themselves on the Internet.” In 2005 and 2006 surveys, the number jumped to 13 percent.

If you go to any Internet addiction discussion boards, you will find people that feel as though they can’t step away from the computer. So much so that it is interfering with their personal lives in destructive ways. Many even attribute their addictions to failed relationships, workplace issues, and problems with schoolwork.

The study did find one culprit that seems to cause a greater level of addiction than others- online gaming. With the array of online gaming choices available and the competitive nature of so many people, it’s no wonder this is a big problem. When I worked at Microsoft, the guys I worked with talked about Everquest 24/7, to the point that I couldn’t have a normal conversation with them. I even tried to get into playing Everquest online, but I just didn’t see the intense draw to it. It seems that the latest game addiction is a game called World of Warcraft, and people report playing 40-60 hours or more a week!

If you feel that you or someone you know may have an Internet addiction, look for these signs of possible addiction:

-Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer.
-Craving more and more time at the computer.
-Neglect of family and friends.
-Feeling empty, depressed or irritable when not at the computer.
-Lying to employers and family about activities.
-Inability to stop the activity.
-Problems with school or job.
Physical symptoms include dry eyes, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, backaches, skipping meals, poor personal hygiene and sleep disturbances.

As with any addiction, it is most likely a problem if it is disrupting your day to day activities, your relationships, work or school. There are many places to go for help, below are some links to help point you in the right direction to help:

Links for more information:

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