When people think of addiction, they often think of drugs and alcohol. The word “addiction” can also be thrown around a lot, which takes away from the power of what it actually means. When this term is used in everyday conversation as much as it is, it tends to become diluted, so people who have a legitimate problem don’t find the help that they greatly need.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a legitimate mental illness, but it can best be described as having two primary symptoms: a mental obsession and physical craving. Those who are addicted to anything have a hard time stopping once they start, and when they aren’t performing that action, they become anxious and crave it. This reaches far past simply abusing mind-altering substances, and it can happen with commonplace things like food or the internet.
There are millions of people around the world who have eating disorder symptoms or an internet addiction. They either can’t stop eating once they start, or they’re addicted to binging and purging. Internet addicts can be addicted to anything from social media to online video games. The one thing that all addicts have in common is that their addiction causes their life to become highly unmanageable.
Symptoms of an Internet Addiction:
- Bookmarks – Most people have bookmarks of their favorite sites. These may be news-based sites, blogs or Reddit. Those who are addicted often can’t get their day started until they check each one, and sometimes they’ll spend hours cycling through and refreshing the pages.
- Online shopping – Shopping addiction can be in it’s own class, but some people are addicted to online shopping. They are constantly checking different websites and coupon websites for the best deal and buying things they don’t need.
- Internet gaming – We live in an age where playing video games has reached levels that were hardly imagined just a few decades ago, and a big part of the experience now is playing with other people online. Some people with an addiction to the internet can’t pull themselves away from online games. There’s typically not a “pause” button, which means they can play for hours or days on end without a break.
Due to the omnipresent nature of the internet, an addiction to using it can easily develop, even in people who don’t fit the profile of having an addictive personality. If you or a loved one is struggling with an Internet addiction, don’t be ashamed to admit and reach out for help.