Internet Addiction Gets Its Own Treatment Facility

Internet addiction — it’s a real thing. So real that this coming Monday (Sept. 9) the first inpatient treatment program for Internet addiction will open at Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania.

Some liken the disease to alcohol addiction. Warning signs of Internet addiction include spending more time with your online friends than your real ones, and a compulsion for surfing the Internet, gambling online or playing games. Treatment centers like the new one at Bradford have sprouted in the past few years in China, Korea and Taiwan. The first-of-its-kind program in the States is founded Dr. Kimberly Young, a professor at St. Bonaventure University. The psychologist has been studying the addiction since 1994. “Here in the United States, people who need treatment don’t have anywhere to go. Now, we finally have something to offer people.” Young told CNN.

Up to four “Internet addicts” will be enrolled in Young’s 10-day program at Bradford at the same time. The patients will begin treatment together, starting with a 72-hour “digital detox” and psychological evaluation. With the addiction not classified as a mental illness in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, there’s no insurance to pick up the $14,000 price tag for the stay, reports CNN. reSTART, America’s first retreat center program for Internet addiction, has a 45-day retreat that will set you back $22,000. reSTART offers treatment for cell phone use, including excessive texting, as well as video game play and Internet use.

While studies show similar brain activity for Internet addicts as alcohol and drug addicts, there are naysayers to the treatment. “People can spend 10 hours a day in front of a screen, blow off their wives, blow off their work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re addicted,” Dr. Allen Frances, professor emeritus at Duke University tells CNN. “Before developing clinical programs, we should have the research. This is a dangerous sign of a fad diagnosis. Unfortunately, the history of psychology is a history of fads like this.”

For the full story head to CNN.