Remember that ole Amy Winehouse refrain: "they tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no!"? While there's drug detox centers for those addicted to drugs, do centers for Internet addiction exist? The answer is yes, and they've been around for a while. In my 2009 post, "Internet Rehab For NetAddicts" post, I researched one such center located in SE Fall City, Washington that followed the same principles as drug rehab centers.
The reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program is specifically oriented towards rehabilitating tech dependent youth and adults and then transitioning them back into the real world. Their individually customized programs are designed to assist participants with an Internet and/or computer based behavioral addiction, in a focused effort to break that cycle of dependency to an end.
Their 45-to-90 day abstinence-based recovery program exposes participants to a variety of activities and everyday life skills which are often missing in one's life due to an excessive ongoing computer, video game play and Internet use.
reStart promotes itself as the nation's first retreat center treatment program "designed to help digital technology users to create a sustainable lifestyle and reconnect with what matters most in life."
As a small business start-up, the center is situated in the scenic Snoqualmie Valley in the shadow of industry giants, the likes of Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Nintendo. With only 6 beds at the present time and an average monthly income of $20-to $50,000 per month, the company is seeking venture capital.
Hoping to hire a "Head Angel of Equity Funding," the company has a goal of $500K in small business funding to help it grow. Also applying for grant funding, the reStart staff is looking to acquire financial assistance to help families in need, with their "Friends of reStart" program.
Hilarie CashCo-Founder Hilarie Cash is among a growing number of mental health professionals who believes in the controversial theory that it is possible to become addicted to the Internet, just as some people got hooked on drugs, alcohol or gambling.
“We’re talking about a lot of young people who come to us who’ve actually gotten addicted at age five, six, seven, eight,” Cash said, “and so their brain development has been profoundly impacted because of that early onset of addiction.”
It differs from drug addicts and alcoholics who are usually exposed to drugs or alcohol closer to the age of 15. Internet addicts usually have 15 to 20 years of addiction on them due to starting younger.
For those of us who are still non-believers in this type of addiction, this year the American Psychiatric Association added “Internet Use Disorder” to the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the golden standard for the profession.
Also called Internet addiction disorder, or IAD, it's categorized as an impulse-control problem. It can include various addictions, such as computer addiction, cyber-relationship addiction, cybersex addiction, information overload and net compulsions. Each of these conditions is different and has distinct defining attributes.
So, if you decide to deal with your own Internet addiction, know that you are not alone. If you are supporting someone else in the this struggle, be sure they understand that an overt obsession with Internet usage is a treatable -- and they should seek out help at either reStart or one of the rehab centers that focuses on obsessive-compulsive behavior. Similar to obtaining treatment for one's problem with alcohol, gambling, sex and/or drugs, Internet addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. It's unfortunate, but perhaps if Amy Winehouse had stuck with her rehab program, she would still be with us today.