PA Hospital First To Open Inpatient Treatment Program For Addiction To The Internet

from the does-that-make-us-pushers? dept

It’s been a while since we heard supposedly smart health professionals, who are clearly addicted to making claims about addiction, discuss internet addictions. You may recall that a couple of years back, China declared that spending six hours in a day on the internet meant you were addicted. Even some of our domestic psychiatrists were lobbying for an addiction to the internet being included in the DSM book, which is the kind of light reading that would give a hypochondriac a case of the tight-pants. Sadly, to date, the concept of an overarching addiction to the internet hasn’t been deemed fit for inclusion.

But that won’t stop hospitals from profiting off of the concept, now that the very first inpatient program to treat internet addiction has been launched at Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania.

The voluntary, 10-day program is set to open on Sept. 9 at the Behavioral Health Services at Bradford Regional Medical Center. The program was organized by experts in the field and cognitive specialists with backgrounds in treating more familiar addictions like drug and alcohol abuse.

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

As someone who has to use the internet for most of the day due to employment requirements, you can understand how worried I am about this. Would my time be better spent drinking sweet, awesome scotch, or snorting a couple of lines off my desk? It’s hard to know for sure, but I suppose I should probably switch the screen off and stop writing this post right now. But… I can’t. Writing internet posts is so alluring. Maybe writing is an addiction, too? After all, I really like doing it, so it has to be bad, right? I wonder what makes the scary internet suffer its own unique addictive traits, oh super-wise medical professionals?

Most people with a severe Internet addiction have some type of undiagnosed psychiatric disorder or personality problem, according to Dr. Roger Laroche, the medical director of the department of psychiatry at Bradford Regional. Each patient in the program, which costs $14,000 out-of-pocket because insurance does not cover the expense, will be psychologically evaluated after undergoing a ‘digital detox.’

Oh. So internet addiction isn’t actually a “thing”, but rather it’s a mistaken diagnosis for symptoms of other entirely separate mental health disorders. Well, that makes a lot more sense. After all, we don’t see a person who cuts their arms habitually and say they’re addicted to cutting themselves. We say they’re depressed, or suffer from bi-polar disorder, or an eating disorder, or whatever. It’s a symptom, not a disease. What may look like internet addiction is really just a symptom of something else. But, hey, why not charge $14k for a program that isn’t covered by insurance, even though a properly diagnosed disorder would likely be covered?

Duke University’s chairman of the DSM-IV, Dr. Allen Frances, sums it up nicely.

“If we can be addicted to gambling and the Internet, why not also include addictions to shopping, exercise, sex, work, golf, sunbathing, model railroading, you name it? All passionate interests are at risk for redefinition as mental disorders.”

I’d be diagnosed with addiction to at least four of those, so I’m either screwed or I just have a lot of really enjoyable hobbies in my life. You pick.

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Comments on “PA Hospital First To Open Inpatient Treatment Program For Addiction To The Internet”

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Arsik Vek (profile) says:

I admit, as a software developer, I spend eight hours of work a day on the internet (some of it is even work related). I then go home, and hop online to relax (Youtube channels like SciShow, Veritasium, and MinutePhysics being cheaper and more entertaining than the cable TV service I cancelled years ago). Clearly I am hopelessly addicted to the internet, and belong back in the psych ward. Obviously going home and watching the latest episodes of whatever the current reality tv craze, or the half hour of “infotainment” the 24 hour news channels recycle all day would be far healthier.

mcinsand (profile) says:

if you are interested to participate more than once...

The word ‘addiction’ used to mean that a person could become so dependent on something that not having that something would put the person’s system under severe stress. The word was mainly used for substances such as heroin, where an addict’s health was at risk if withdrawal was not handled properly. Other substances are old-school addictive, as well. As for making allowances for mental addictions, I can see that; some people do have tendencies where they can become so involved in something that they will self-destructively throw themselves into it entirely.

However, the word has become so watered-down that we may as well strike it from the dictionary. If a person is engaged enough in any material or activity to participate more than once, then that person is now ‘addicted,’ in the current use of the word. Much of this started with shows like ’20/20′ covering caffeine ‘addiction.’ We can ingest a lot of substances that will train our bodies to expect them, but that does not make them an addiction. If you eat a jelly doughnut every morning at 8, then, pretty soon, your pancrease effectively schedules an insulin spike at 8-ish. Just because there is some physiological reaction to missing a dose of coffee, TV show, or even a video game, calling it an addiction is ridiculous. I can’t help but wonder how recovered heroin addicts feel when someone claims to be addicted to coffee because they get a headache when they miss it.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: if you are interested to participate more than once...

A caffeine addiction falls under the old school definition of addiction. Caffeine is a drug like nicotine. Your body can become dependent on it and it can cause serious health issues if not handled correctly.

What you’re thinking of is when someone wakes up in the morning and is all groggy before their first cup. That’s not withdrawal. Caffeine withdrawal shows up a few days to a few weeks after cutting it off.

The jelly doughnut thing is right though. That’s not addiction, that’s more a learned response.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: if you are interested to participate more than once...

I agree. “Addiction” is a hot-button term that is used to elicit an emotional response.

Whether or not someone has an addiction isn’t really important for that person. What’s important is if they have a dysfunction (whether it’s an “addiction” or not).

In other words, if an activity is not degrading the person’s quality of life, even if it’s an addiction, then who cares? It’s not a problem unless it’s a problem.

Arthur Moore (profile) says:

Re: Re:


Try looking up the way chargemaster prices are set up. Insurance gets around the issue via collective bargaining. Sadly, people who go to the hospital, especially the ER, need treatment now, and can’t afford to shop around. Especially since you don’t know the total cost until after treatment.*

They might give a number, but if anything happens expect to pay several times that amount.

Paul says:

Internet Addiction is Genetic. It seems to worsen as the addiction is passed on to future generations. My 94 year old mother spends at least 6 hours every day on the computer. I thought it was helping keep her mind active so she wouldn’t develop Dementia. Retired & disabled Most of my contact with the world is thru my computers. I live alone and have had as many as 9 computers but have settled on 5. I thought it was just a hobby that I passed along to my children. One works at Microsoft, one runs the network for a doctor (his wife) who has offices in 5 different cities. The youngest (24 & single) has his own small construction business and is an online gamer nights & weekends. The realization of internet addiction now worries me due to the growing effects the next generation will inherit. Can we get group rates??

Anonymous Coward says:

I hear eating and going to the bathroom are also addictions

I hear eating and going to the bathroom are also serious addictions that need psychological help.

I mean, everyone I’ve told to break their bathroom addiction still visits the bathroom every 2 or 3 hours, or worse yet they start using the bushes outside as their bathroom every 2 to 3 hours! No matter how hard they try they just can’t kick their bathroom habit!

And then there’s eating, I tell my fellow employees to kick their eating addiction and do something like read a book during their lunch break. Yet where do I find them at lunch breaks? In the cafeteria eating! They’re too addicted to eating to stop!

I myself am sadly addicted to both habits, I need mental help.

Marifrances says:

Internet Addiction

I’ve worked in the addiction field for many years. I feel that the amount of time spent on the Internet excluding people’s jobs should be limited at some point particularly when it has an effect on their homework, their social activities, their mood or family time. Many times it’s not how long the are on, it’s the topics such as child pornography, cybersex (esp if your married or the pastor of your church). All are habits. Some are healthy, some are not. Give “it a diagnosis” from the DSM and it could be covered. Go to Gamblers Anonymous for free and interject the “Internet”instead of “gambling”.. Good luck.

Schleprock (profile) says:

I share your frustration with a addiction community that doesn’t want to have its hands tied by something like a solid, widely acknowledged definition for what addiction is and that also cannot determine the best way to treat the addiction.
No wonder the rest of America doesn’t understand. In some instances a few addiction appear to be fabricated out of thin air.

The DSM now has a better definition but it still doesn’t jibe with the ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine) definition.

Vape Judge (user link) says:

That's on Blurry Line

I try being empathetic to those with legitimate addictions but this internet addiction movement is just a bit much for me. I the end of the day, only the addict truly understands what they’re going through so I don’t want to sit here and judge but like Timothy said, this puts genuine passion at risk of being re-classified as addictions and I think that’s just ridiculous.

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