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Archive for November, 2006

Terminally Addicted?

Posted by Roberta Jewell
Categories: This 'n that

terminally addictedWell, it’s no surprise, I suppose, that those of us who got hooked on alcohol might later find ourselves spending excessive amounts of time getting wired in other ways. The research headlines this past month seem to confirm it: Internet addiction is widespread and those who suffer with it may be as clinically ill as alcoholics. The comparison is made repeatedly and I have to admit, it stings every time I read it. Some of the new data, including that from a recent Standford study, says that people are using the Net, just like booze, to self medicate.

So what happens when people in recovery become addicted to the Internet?

This is weighing heavily on me, largely because I’ve been at the forefront of creating an active online community – a message board – launched about two years ago. I’ve promoted the heck out of it hoping people who need help, not having found it in traditional recovery methods, will somehow stumble upon it. The site offers a number of web-based features and multiple forums. It’s now visited by thousands of people every day, some of whom are guests simply lurking; others registered members who frequently post. Overall, individuals in the community are exceptionally supportive of one another and particularly helpful to new visitors. I’m very proud of what we’ve built and the program upon which it is founded. I think one of the reasons people find themselves able to finally crawl out of their private drinking hell once they become a part of this virtual stomping ground is the relationships they form in this unique environment we’ve all come to call “the board.”

It makes me wonder, though: can we get too much of a good thing? Members often joke that the board has become an addiction in and of itself. But sometimes I don’t think they’re laughing. I suspect they may have just figured it out before the researchers did. In fact, we occasionally see messages from members who say they simply need to take a break, to get away from it for a while, they’re spending too much time there.

We may need to consider that given our vulnerability to addiction, we’re more likely to be drawn to the Internet and its assurance of instant gratification. Email, chat, discussion boards, surfing, and shopping abound. Maybe now is a good time to consider whether or not it’s become a problem or may become one in the future.

So here, from the Center for Internet Addiction and Recovery is the Internet Addiction Test. It’s really quite good. And best: if you recognize you have a problem, you can go to the Internet, download an e-book and get some help. Perfect.

But seriously, like anything else, we need to find balance. I’ve been working hard to increase membership on our message board because I’ve seen how it can help people. I’ve witnessed the strength our members find in one another – and themselves – as they team up to wage war over their addiction.

I just don’t want them stuck with another one is all.