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Internet Addiction Information

Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is a theorized disorder coined by Ivan Goldberg, M.D., in 1997. It is compared to pathological gambling as diagnosed by the DSM-IV. Dr. Goldberg, along with Kimberly Young, Psy.D. are currently lobbying for the inclusion of IAD into the DSM-V, the next edition of the DSM, which would open the doors for insurance companies to pay out for Internet addiction counseling. However many others argue that IAD is not an actual disorder and should not be classified as a mental disorder.

A proposed definition follows:

A maladaptive pattern of Internet use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

  1. Tolerance, as defined by a need for markedly increased amounts of time on Internet to achieve satisfaction and markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of time on Internet.
  2. Withdrawal, as manifested by either cessation of (or reduction) in Internet use that has been heavy and prolonged, or two (or more) of the following, developing within several days to a month after Criterion: (a) psychomotor agitation, (b) anxiety, (c) obsessive thinking about what is happening on the Internet, (d) fantasies or dreams about the Internet, (e) voluntary or involuntary typing movements of the fingers. The symptoms in Criterion 2 cause distress or impairment in social, occupational or another important area of functioning.
  3. Internet is often accessed more often or for longer periods of time than was intended.
  4. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control Internet use.
  5. A great deal of time is spent in activities related to Internet use (for example, buying Internet books, trying out new WWW browsers, researching Internet vendors, organizing files of downloaded materials).
  6. Important family, social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced in duration and/or frequency because of Internet use.
  7. Internet use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical, family, social, occupational, or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by Internet use (for example, sleep deprivation, marital difficulties, lateness for early morning appointments, neglect of occupational duties, or feelings of abandonment in significant others).

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It is hard to determine how the disease of addiction will affect someone or whose life it will consume. However, when you know the factors involved that may predispose someone to this disease, we can begin to make choices that eliminate the risks for addiction. One can choose not to drink in college if their father was an alcoholic.

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Dr. Kimberly Dennis
Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center