News

Clinics treat Internet addicts

Clinics treat Internet addicts

Justice Department employees hold up cameras and cell phones to take a picture of first lady Michelle Obama and Attorney Gen. Eric Holder in 2010. Photo: Associated Press/Susan Walsh

By Elizabeth Daley

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) – Smartphones are getting smarter, laptops are becoming increasingly portable – and people who just cannot put them down are finding more remedies.

The latest clinic treating the growing number of Americans addicted to the Internet will open next week in Bradford, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Kimberly Young, a psychologist who heads the new program at Bradford Regional Medical Center, a public hospital about 160 miles north of Pittsburgh, said that since 1994 she has privately treated thousands of people who cannot control their online activity.

“A lot of countries do prevention and education surrounding the issue, and we Americans are just starting to think in those terms,” Young said.

South Korea and China are leaders in this treatment field, she said.

With about 75 percent of U.S. adults online, Young called the Internet a “new outlet for traditional addictions,” including pornography, shopping and gambling.

At the same time, she said, the Web allows for new and unique behaviors, such as compulsive use of social media.

Although “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” from the American Psychiatric Association does not formally recognize Internet addiction as an illness, the most recent volume listed “Internet Use Disorder” as a subject worthy of further study.

The Pennsylvania program joins inpatient treatment offered in Illinois since the mid 1990s as well as Internet detox centers like Washington state’s reStart, which opened in 2009 and gives patients the chance to abstain from technology use for a period of time.

In Connecticut, Dr. David Greenfield, a psychiatrist who founded the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and teaches at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, prescribes installation of website blocking and monitoring software for his patients’ computers.

“Patients’ social skills atrophy, and they don’t know how to live in a real time world,” said Greenfield. He asks his patients to list 100 things they can do in the “real world” rather than reading their Facebook feeds, fussing with their Apple iPhones or escaping into their Microsoft Xbox games.

Among the physical threats posed by Internet addiction are obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome and deep vein thrombosis, he said.

Out-of-pocket costs for Internet addiction treatment can range from upwards of $8,000 for outpatient services and more than $14,000 for inpatient options, Greenfield said.

Young said there was not yet a standard treatment protocol, but hopes her new program can offer data to lead doctors in the right direction.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

This weekend’s celebrity birthdays

diaz

A look at the celebrities who will be celebrating this weekend.

in Music

CHART TOPPERS: This week’s top country tracks

bradpaisley

LISTEN: This week's top country tracks, according to the latest Billboard charts.

in Entertainment

WATCH: 10 best ‘Simpsons’ episodes

In this photo released by Fox, Homer explains why he wants to bring back the annual 4th of July fireworks display, after it's cancelled for budget reasons, in the "Yellow Badge of Cowardge" Season Finale episode of "The Simpsons," in May 2014. The full 25-year run of "The Simpsons" will arrive on cable channel FXX with a summer marathon, to be paired this fall with a digital extravaganza that could turn other TV shows yellow with envy. "I'm not going to over-promise, but I think this website will provide you with affordable health care," longtime "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean told a TV critics' meeting Monday, July 21, 2014.

The recent marathon of all 552 episodes of "The Simpsons" inspired us to sit down and come up with our 10 favorite episodes. Enjoy!

in Entertainment

Lena Dunham and Kate Mara hit by a falling sign

Lena Dunham, of HBO's "Girls," arrives at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards held at The Nokia Theatre  in Los Angeles.

The "Girls" and "House of Cards" actresses saw stars of their own after an accident at a Venice premiere.

in Entertainment

Charges dropped against Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s suspected drug dealer

In this Jan. 19, 2014 photo, Philip Seymour Hoffman poses for a portrait at The GenArt Quaker Good Energy Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah. Hoffman, who won the Oscar for best actor in 2006 for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in "Capote," was found dead Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in his New York apartment. He was 46.

Drug-selling charges against a friend of late film star Philip Seymour Hoffman have been dropped after officers neglected to read the suspect his Miranda rights.