A Domestic Take on “Internet Addiction”

September 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm 7 comments

For all you poor souls addicted to the internet or retreating to the safe cocoon of World of Warcraft, take heart. Psychiatry has a place for you too. It’s a six bed inpatient facility called ReSTART in Redmond, WA, strangely close to Microsoft headquarters that also tackles gaming and texting dependencies. Conveniently, they have a full and informative website. At just $14,500 per 45 day stint in the program, it is the first known treatment facility of its kind. From the Associated Press:

“We’ve been doing this for years on an outpatient basis,” said Hilarie Cash, a therapist and executive director of the center. “Up until now, we had no place to send them.”

Internet addiction is not recognized as a separate disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, and treatment is not generally covered by insurance. But there are many such treatment centers in China, South Korea and Taiwan — where Internet addiction is taken very seriously — and many psychiatric experts say it is clear that Internet addiction is real and harmful.

Thank goodness, we finally have another place to drop off our troubled youth. No, internet addiction is not recognized as a separate disorder… yet. Give them time. The DSM-V isn’t due out until 2012. For now, most see it as falling under the umbrella of impulse control disorders. Also, I’m not sure China’s approach to internet addiction is one you’d want to use as your supporting example of internet addiction “taken seriously.”

While I think the price tag is beyond ludicrous and the idea of internet addiction as  a disorder is ridiculous, the idea of helping to shift people’s focus to real-life, fleshed out interactions is certainly valid. It has to be understood, however, that “internet addiction” is, if anything, not a disorder but a manifestation of other problems. You could just as easily turn to doing anything to an unhealthy degree. In fairness, ReSTART’s mission statement clearly expresses an interest in addressing “underlying problems.”

At reSTART, we understand that Internet and gaming addiction often co-occurs with other mental health conditions. Our program is individually designed to address a wide variety of underlying issues which may contribute to excessive Internet use (e.g., family problems, divorce, childhood trauma, depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc.).

I don’t believe they are “underlying” at all but that those social or life-handling issues are the true problems with withdrawal into a technological closet being just another outlet.

Not content to limit their reach to the “real” world, a British psychiatrist has even begun to assemble a team of psychiatrists to enter the World of Warcraft. It is not yet known whether they will side with the Alliance or Horde factions but if history proves useful, they’ll probably play both ends. That should make for a comfortable and relaxed gaming environment for all involved. Maybe they can start offering psychiatric care in skate shops and live music venues too — really reach kids where they live.

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7 Comments

  • 1. Anonymous  |  September 9, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    $14,500 for a 45 day stint is a rather good price tag. I know for a fact that over 15 years ago it cost over $1,000 a day for a stay in psychiatric clinic. Normally you would stay until your insurance ran out and then you would be miraculously sane again. Now days it seems that they will declare anything a psychiatric disorder to make a profit. I commend you for posting about the atrocities that occur in that psychiatric world today. There is many horror stories that I know first hand that I could tell you of what does go down in these facilities. If anyone does not believe that abuse and arciac behaviour of the old times does still continue needs a wake up call. Because yes it does!It continues not even in not just the state mental facilities but the clinics as well.

    • 2. abellve  |  September 18, 2009 at 11:25 pm

      ” Normally you would stay until your insurance ran out and then you would be miraculously sane again.”

      I’m sure the “cure” to many an illness has been a lack of funds. As far as horror stories go, I wish they didn’t exist but while they do, exposure may be one of the best weapons we’ve got. I have to think a lot of what goes on happens because too many people just don’t know. I’m always open to input and a broader perspective. (abellve451-at-gmail.com) Thanks for reading.

  • 3. KHorn  |  September 10, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    So you are also against voluntary, temporary treatment programs that don’t seem to involve forced medication?

  • 4. abellve  |  September 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    In a word, no. I’m skeptical of all psychiatry while I think you should certainly have a right to access it by choice. Some people still push bullshit whether it’s forced or not. I’m not saying it necessarily applies here but as a general response to your question. I’m not “against” this program. In fact, I think with the right approach, there is a potential to do a lot of good here. I just think the fact that something like this exists for this purpose is noteworthy. Like I said, gearing someone toward real world interaction is definitely valid and viable. Some people could use help in that regard and, closed off from the world, would probably not be seeking it. I’m not opposed to the idea of refocusing, just to the notion that it’s a “disorder.” It’s not a disorder it’s a behavior. Teams of psychiatrists entering World of Warcraft is just weird.

  • 5. KHorn  |  September 10, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Well, we seem to find ourselves in a state of full agreement here. I think my confusion about your opinion arose because, while I certainly agree with you that calling this a disorder may not be appropriate, it was not clear to me that this was your main objection to the program. To me it seemed as though after many great examples of bad psychiatric practices violating people’s rights you were lumping this program in with that.

    And I agree that the teams (bands?) of psychiatrists cruising the World of Warcraft is really weird. I’d go so far as to call it creepy.

  • 6. CodyE  |  September 11, 2009 at 10:59 am

    This isn’t too surprising in my eyes. Each fall semester when the students return to the Lycoming campus, I am having to register more and more game consoles on our network. The numbers seem to grow exponentially every new semester.

  • 7. gingeneric1970  |  October 13, 2010 at 12:49 am

    My s/o is internet addicted. He asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I told him a day with no tv and no p/c. He did not grant my birthday wish. He wakes up, eats, showers, gets on his p/c and stays on it until he goes to sleep… what can I do?


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