There is some debate about whether technological addictions are real. Not a debate about whether or not people seem to have problematic compulsions to use the internet or text message, everyone seems to be able to agree that these problems exist, but it’s less clear to clinicians that these compulsions are different enough to warrant their own classification as separate disorders.
People with cybersex addiction, some would argue, are simply sex addicts using the internet and people who can’t stop sending emails and check their blackberry in the middle of the night, don’t have an internet addiction, they are simply people with impulse control disorders and symptoms are manifested via technology.
On the flip side – other professionals argue that you can’t ignore the growing numbers of people complaining of technology compulsions, and that it’s clear that we are dealing with something new here – something that needs to be classified uniquely. The debate continues, although it’s looking more and more likely that internet addiction and other technological disorders will earn a place in the upcoming edition of psychiatry’s bible, the DSM-V5. And it’s a very important debate too.
The Debate is Both Important and Irrelevent
The recognition of these disorders as unique will mean that they gain legal status and recognition. It will mean that as insurance parity movements gain strength, people suffering an internet addiction will have a greater chance of claiming insurance benefits to treat their recognized "disease" and that employers will afford the technologically sick the same rights and protections as they would grant anyone sick with any other disorder. So it’s important, and the scientists are taking a good hard look at the whole thing and in a few years anyway, we’ll all probably understand technological compulsions a lot better. But for now, the ambiguity of it all is not helpful to those stuck in the middle – in never never land.
It’s not helpful to be suffering an uncontrollable compulsion to do something, to have that compulsion harm your health and happiness, and to have people say that what you’re suffering – isn’t real. And it’s not helpful to delay getting treatment for something that’s giving you problems because you don’t want to seem crazy or because your friends and family think it’s ridiculous.
Is it an addiction – is it something else? It doesn’t matter!
For now, the debate raging offers little benefit to those people whose online habits are causing them problems. It doesn’t matter at all whether someone else calls it internet addiction, or gaming addiction, or a big fat figment of your imagination – if you need help, then you need to get it.
3 Questions – and 3 Answers That Will Tell You All You Need to Know.
- Does your internet/gaming/texting habit cause you problems in life?
Answered yes? Then you have a problem. Seems obvious, but it’s a fundamental part of the equation.
- Do you continue to use the internet/game/text devices even though you know it causes you problems?
- Have you tried to stop internet/gaming/texting, and failed?
If you answered yes three times, then you have a problem, a problem that affects your quality of life, and yet you continue, and when you try to quit – you can’t. If you answered yes three times, then you need help, and it doesn’t matter at all what anyone else labels your disorder.
There are therapies that work and techniques that you can learn to help you manage your compulsions to use the internet in a controlled and limited way. But unless you take some serious steps to change, then you have to accept that things aren’t going to change. This addiction (or whatever else you wanna’ call it) seems to be like most other addictions, in that it’s progressive and getting better takes a little effort.
Don’t wait for someone else to recognize your problem to get help. If you know you have a problem, then you should know that you need, and deserve help.