U.S. Hospital Opens first Treatment Center for Internet Addiction

Internet addiction was first coined in 1995 by a psychologist, when the worldwide web was still in its infancy.

The phrase was a joke then, but today with the first Internet addiction center that is hospital based opening in Pennsylvania next week, suffering from Internet addiction has stopped being a laughing matter.

The 10-day voluntary treatment program is in-patient and can admit as many as four patients at a time that have had a diagnosis of Internet addiction.

The patients first go through a thorough evaluation and a “digital detox,” which prohibits the use of the Internet, a phone or tablets for a minimum of 72 hours.

Next, they must attend different educational seminars and therapy sessions so they can control their compulsion for the Internet.

Psychologist Kimberly Young is the founder of the program. She defined addiction to the Internet by the consequences of overuse of the Internet rather than how much time is spent online.

Young said there was a big difference between someone who depended upon modern technology but was able to balance offline life with online life and someone whose obsession for Internet prevented them from being able to function normally.

Young also said that typical addicts of the Internet are male, young and very intelligent. She said often times they struggle socially, while suffering from a low self-esteem. In addition, many become obsessed with games such as World of Warcraft, not pornography or social media

The program’s goal is for its patients to use the Internet again, but in a way that is healthy. Using computers is essential in today’s life, said Young, who does not believe it is practical to remain offline all the time.

The fee for the program is $14,000 and has to come out of pocket as Internet addiction has not been recognized by the psychiatric community as a mental health disorder and therefore is not covered by any insurance.

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