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Addiction is a commonly used word that is mostly associated with a substance(drug or alcohol) and sometimes thought of as an illness. We often hear the word addiction thrown around in conversations. I’ve often used the word addiction when referring to my love of chocolate, but in this case it’s just an expression of speech. For a long time now, though, a lot of controversy has been going on about adding other activities, other than substance use to the word addiction. In this case excessive use of the Internet, Internet Addiction(IA). Many people are wanting to take addiction to a whole new level, by adding Internet Addiction to the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition; in other words the “psychiatric bible”) but is our need, love, desire, and excessive use of the internet just a compulsion or an addiction?
Addiction is when a person is dependent on a behavior or specific substance in order to cope with life. The dependence is so important to the individual that even when it becomes harmful to themselves, their family, work, and other important areas of their life they will persist in using the substance, or engaging in the behavior. Also, “There are actual changes that occur in the brains of addicts and treatments for addiction must address the biology behind the behavior.” So far addictions have focused on highs that are caused from the use of drugs or other substances that affect the brain’s chemical responses. However it has recently been discovered that a person can receive a similar “high” from using the Internet. The research for this disorder is scarce and fairly new, but the results leave something to argue about for the supporting side. Overly excessive use of the Internet affects everyone involved with the “user.” There have been confessions from individuals who claim to suffer from IAD (Internet Addiction Disorder). A case was, reported in the New York Times,
A woman who had been divorced by her husband because of her excessive use of the Internet. Still the woman did not come to her senses and continued to use the internet so much that she forgot to buy food for her children, to take them to doctor appointments, and to buy enough oil to warm her home.(Maria Garcia Duran)
Sounds like an addiction, but this still doesn’t fit the whole criteria. Remember you have to experience a chemical effect in the brain when your considering an obsessive need for something to be a diagnose as an addiction. There may be some alternative chemical change in her brain, such as the internet use is causing her to be happy, which means endorphins are being released to the brain. But this article isn’t clear on whether the internet use really makes her happy, or helps her hide from reality which may still leave her with the same mood set, but just in hiding.
Most people who think they are addicted may just be suffering from the desire to not want to deal with other problems going on in their lives. Those problems may in fact be a mental disorder like anxiety or depression. It may be a a relationship problem, serious disability or health problem. The internet use is no different than TV use, so you won’t have to “go out with the boys” for drinks or talking to your spouse. Others who spend to much time online with out any other problems present may just be suffering from compulsive over-use.