Hilarie Cash and Cosette Rae, the founders of the nation’s first residential treatment facility for Internet addiction, say that in an increasingly digital world it’s impossible to be truly abstinent from technology.
“Technology is here to stay. I mean, we need it for work. We need it for all different types of activities. Your employer’s going to require you to use some kind of technology,” Rae said. “Therefore, we need to look at their pattern of use and find a way they can create a sustainable lifestyle for themselves.”
Cash and Rae opened their Washington facility, reSTART, in 2009 and have since treated 500 patients. They are part of a growing number of scientists and addiction specialists who believe it is possible to become addicted to the Internet.
“The tide is rising in terms of awareness of it as an issue, but it’s just slow, you know, to reach the general population,” Cash said.
While avoiding all technology on a permanent basis is impossible, Rae and Cash say that people can be more responsible about their technology use by assessing their behavior.
They've developed a list of signs and symptoms to assess whether someone might be abusing the Internet or have an addiction. Those symptoms are below.
Three to four 'yes' responses suggest abuse. Five or more 'yes' responses suggest addiction.
• Increasing amounts of time spent on computer and internet activities
• Failed attempts to control behavior
• Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and internet activities
• Craving more time on the computer and internet
• Neglecting friends and family
• Feeling restless when not engaged in the activity
• Being dishonest with others
• Computer use interfering with job/school performance
• Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of behavior
• Changes in sleep patterns
• Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
• Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities
Developed by reStart founder Dr. Hilarie Cash, PhD. For more information, click here to visit reSTART Internet Addiciton Recovery Program's web site.