A Domestic Take on “Internet Addiction”
September 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm
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.
Entry filed under: Psychiatry. Tags: Internet addiction, Mental Health, Redmond, Restart, Technology, Washington, World of Warcraft.