CBS News Logo Hospital-based Internet addiction center to open

As growing numbers of us check our email compulsively, play computer games obsessively and have more friends on Facebook than in real life, the first hospital-based Internet addiction treatment center is preparing to open. An inpatient program at the Bradford Regional Medical Center in Bradford, Pa., will begin next week for people who cannot control their online activity. Its founder, Kimberly Young, told that she has had nowhere to refer patients who, over the last 16 years through her private practice as a psychologist, have asked for inpatient rather than outpatient care. "While there are a few retreat centers in the U.S., none offered inpatient medical and psychiatric care," Young said. "I also noted that the only hospitals offering treatment were not located in the States, making it difficult for Americans to use what might be available abroad." In the United States, Internet addiction is not recognized as a diagnosable mental health disorder by the American Psychiatric Association and treatment is not generally covered by insurance. But there are treatment centers in such countries as China and South Korea, where it is viewed seriously. Bradford's 10-day program will focus on patients with more serious cases of Internet addiction, and provide individual, group, and family therapy. The patients must first forgo the use of the Internet for at least 72 hours before entering. Young is not sure how many patients to expect in her program. There are four places for each cycle of the program, and the hospital might make adjustments depending on demand, she said. The fee will be $14,000. She determines whether someone is addicted by the consequences of their use, whether damage to relationships or careers. The typical addict is a young, intelligent man consumed with such games as "World of Warcraft," she added. Her goal is to help addicts to achieve moderate or controlled use of the Internet rather than to go cold turkey as a typical addiction Continue Reading

CBS News Logo Compulsive Video Gaming Linked to Other Problems

Lead author Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University, was partners with researchers in Hong Kong and Singapore on the two-year study, part of a larger project looking at ways video games may either cause problems or benefit children. Researchers studied more than 3,000 primary and secondary schoolchildren in Singapore starting when they were in Grades 3, 4, 7 or 8, and measured a number of things about their video game playing, school performance and other mental health issues. This included assessment of pathological gaming, weekly amount of game play, impulsiveness, social competence, depression, social phobia, anxiety and depression. In the study, published online Monday and in the February issue of Pediatrics, researchers write that while game playing itself is not pathological initially, it becomes so for some individuals "when the activity becomes dysfunctional, harming the individual's social, occupational, family, school and psychological function." In earlier research, Gentile said kids who were pathological gamers showed similar patterns with other variables seen in addictions like those to drugs or gambling. They tended to be male, have more hostile personalities, engage in more anti-social and aggressive behaviors and had worse grades in school. What were unknowns were whether they were just going through a phase, or if they were having a difficult time breaking free from pathological gaming, as well as the types of things that were either predictors or outcomes of problem gaming. "We had assumed that it might be the case that pathological gaming isn't necessarily that big of a deal by itself because it might be part of a pattern of other problems," Gentile said from Ames, Iowa. "For example, kids aren't doing well in school, they get depressed and so they retreat into games, which, of course, doesn't help their grades, and so maybe they get more depressed." Gentile said while they can't say conclusively pathological Continue Reading

CBS News Logo Internet addiction could signal other problems

Internet addiction may signal other mental health issues among college students, according to a new study. Canadian researchers say their findings could affect how psychiatrists approach people who spend a significant amount of time online​. For the study, the researchers evaluated the internet use of 254 freshmen at McMaster University in Ontario. The researchers used a tool called the Internet Addiction Test (IAT), developed in 1998, as well as their own scale based on more recent criteria. “Internet use has changed radically over the last 18 years, through more people working online, media streaming, social media, etc. We were concerned that the IAT questionnaire may not have been picking up on problematic modern internet use​, or showing up false positives for people who were simply using the internet rather than being over-reliant on it,” said chief researcher Dr. Michael Van Ameringen. He is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at McMaster. With the new screening tool, 33 students met criteria for internet addiction, and 107 for problematic internet use. Van Ameringen’s team also assessed the students’ mental health​, including signs of impulsiveness, depression, anxiety and stress. Most of those addicted to the internet had trouble controlling their use of video streaming and social networking sites as well as instant messaging tools, the researchers found. They had more trouble handling their daily routines and higher rates of depression​, anxiety, impulsiveness and inattention. They also had problems with planning and time management, the researchers found. Dr. Jan Buitelaar is a professor of psychiatry at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands. He said: “Excessive use of the internet is an understudied phenomenon that may disguise mild or severe psychopathology; excessive use of the internet may be strongly linked to compulsive behavior and addiction.” The Continue Reading

Brick-and-mortar clinics treat Internet addicts

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 Continue Reading

Video game addiction and other Internet compulsive disorders mask depression, anxiety, learning disabilities

Violent video games can be as addicting as drugs, experts say. “It affects the same pleasure centers in the brain that make people want to come back," said Dr. Michael Fraser, a clinical psychologist on the upper East Side and professor at Weill Cornell Medical College. "If you look at alcoholism and Internet addiction, it's the exact same pattern of behavior," agreed Dr. Kimberly Young, a psychologist and founder of the Center for Online and Internet Addiction in Bradford, Penn. Kids are among the most vulnerable to video game addiction, experts said, and may become violent when their "drug" is taken away. "Kids can become physically and verbally abusive," said Fraser. "Most parents have trouble imagining this—that their 12-year-old boy would push his mother when she tries to unplug the game." Young agreed, based on her 19 years of researching Internet-based addictions. "There definitely seems to be a correlation between violent game use and aggressive behavior," Young said. "[Kids] will throw things, they'll hit their parents, they'll start becoming violent at school. Parents say, ‘he was a good boy; he didn’t act like this before.’ "The reality is, these games must teach you something,” she continued. “When you're actively participating, looking at various weapons, getting reinforcement and recognition for your achievements from the game and from other players…I think it desensitizes you." Video game and Internet addiction usually point to other mental problems including anxiety, depression and trouble forming healthy relationships, said Fraser. His patients—mostly boys in middle, high school and early college—use games as means of escape, whether from social anxiety or from a learning disability that makes concentrating on schoolwork difficult. “When it comes time to bear down and concentrate, rather than work through that Continue Reading

Female sex addiction: Pleasure and compulsive behavior doesn’t discriminate by gender

BILL: At an open AA meeting last week, a visitor said he wanted to ask us about his live-in girlfriend, with whom he has two children. "She is unfaithful to me over and over,' he said, "and doesn't even have to be drunk to do it." DR. DAVE: He didn't know whether to treat it as a problem in morals or addiction? BILL: "She spends hours online looking at pornography," he told us. Dave, I always thought a taste for porn was purely male. And I know that in my years doing the Greenwich Village bar scene for the Village Voice, I never ran into any women who had to have sex as compulsively as I needed a drink. Has equality struck again? DR. DAVE: Tiger Woods' doc, Patrick Carnes, is probably the country's leading sex addiction specialist. Now his daughter, Dr. Stefanie Carnes is leading a movement to recognize women's historical suffering as partners of sex addicts. Starting with a picture of wives victimized by their husband's compulsive sexual appetites, she's now discussing the female face of sex addiction, as sex addict herself.  She also points out that cybersex behavior includes 40% women. BILL: I believe she was making the point that internet anonymity lets women avoid the social sanctions against engaging in risky public sexual behavior? SEX CAN BE HEALTHY TIP DR. DAVE: If you want a good read on how the sexual addiction process develops, and how similar it is to alcohol and other drug addictions, read the book The Drug of the New Millennium. Its subtitle tells you the target: The Brain Science Behind Internet Pornography Use. BILL: I remember that book coming out in 2010. What drew me to it was how he explained how this cocktail of five brain chemicals comes together in sort of a perfect storm of pleasure. DR. DAVE: Sort of like your Perfect Gin Martini recipe, Bill. Actually, the analogy is good. Three of the five brain chemicals occur at orgasm or immediately afterwards. The key to understanding the addictive properties of internet Continue Reading

“The word, ‘addicted’ is so overused — how can I tell if my 12-year-old son is REALLY addicted to the Internet?”

BILL: Dave, that's from Janet. "When all his friends are out skateboarding or playing baseball," she says, "Freddie is crouched before his screen." DR. DAVE: And if Mom comes into the room, he quickly shuts down? BILL: Just what Janet says, adding that Freddie's marks are down at school. Which leads me to believe the kid -- an adolescent boy, let's remember -- is reveling in hour-after-hour porn. But when I spoke to Gregory Jantz, PhD., Founder, The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, Inc., he said the kid's problem may go beyond that. "As with alcoholism or gambling," says Dr. Jantz, author of "#Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology, and Social Networking, "Internet addiction is behavior that controls you. It disrupts other aspects of your life, including relationships. But the very thought of not getting online produces feelings of anxiety and discomfort. Inevitably your impulses, pleasures, anxieties, and fears overcome your better judgment and you go back online." DR. DAVE: Like the drunk promising himself, "Just one more and I'll stop," Freddie seems to be telling himself, "One more online game of Mass Effect 3 and I'll get to my homework." Three hours later, at 1 AM, he stumbles to bed without having cracked a book. BILL: Where I get puzzled, Dave, perhaps naively, is how can you get hooked without taking some intoxicating chemical into your system? DR. DAVE: The current diagnostic guide to defining dependencies or addictions, called the DSM IV, is due to be updated in May of 2013 -- the first major changes since the DSM IV came out in 1994. Many of your answers are going to be found there. BILL: A lot of changes in the last 20 years to cover in the world of addiction? DR. DAVE: That's the understatement of the day. For now, what we call the non-substance addictions are "process addictions". Gambling, eating and our addiction du jour -- compulsive internet use -- fall in that category. BILL: But what separates pre-teen Continue Reading

Depressed people surf the web differently; Check mail compulsively, watch a lot of videos and quickly switch between multiple internet applications

A new study has found that people’s web surfing patterns have a strong correlation with their mental well being. More specifically, people who are depressed tend to check their mail compulsively, watch a lot of videos and switch between multiple internet applications more frequently than their peers. The study was conducted by Sriram Chellappan, assistant professor of computer science at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Raghavendra Kotikalapudi, software development engineer, and tracked the internet habits of 216 undergraduate volunteers at Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2011. “There were two major findings. First, we identified several features of Internet usage that correlated with depression,” wrote Sriram Chellappan and Raghavendra Kotikalapudi in an article for the New York Times. “Our second major discovery was that there were patterns of Internet usage that were statistically high among participants with depressive symptoms compared with those without symptoms.” Researchers say the study results could be used to develop software that tracks users' browsing patterns on mobile phones and campus networks. Such software could alert parents and university counselors when students display browsing habits that are indicative of depression. The study is due to be published in the next issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine. In 2010, two large-scale studies drew parallels between internet use and depression. The first involved 1,319 participants and concluded that “those who regard themselves as dependent on the Internet report high levels of depressive symptoms.” The second looked at the internet habits of 1,041 teenagers in China over a nine month period and revealed “that young people who are initially free of mental health problems but use the Internet pathologically could develop depression as a consequence.” Join the Conversation: Continue Reading


JEFFREY COHEN, A FUND-RAISER for a local nonprofit, has 15 suits hanging in his closet. But when his tailor recently called to sell him a $350 custom-made beauty, he bit. And that's just the beginning of Cohen's splurges on items he doesn't need - and can't really afford. There are the two extra shirts and second bottle of cologne Cohen picked up on a recent pop-in at Macy's, not to mention the $12,000 Harley-Davidson he bought - even though he already had a chopper in his driveway. For two years, the bike sat unused in his garage. "When I bought the Harley, I thought it was a great deal," Cohen told the Daily News. "I rationalized that I needed it. " Some call it therapy, others call it an irresistible urge. Either way, uncontrolled shopping is a serious problem that can hurt relationships, ruin your credit and severely damage your bank account. Between 2% and 8% of the U. S. population are considered compulsive shoppers - outnumbering the country's gambling addicts. Nine of 10 mega-shoppers are women. While the problem has existed for years, easy shopping on the Internet, stores that dazzle with enticing displays and a culture that glorifies shopping has fueled a new generation of extreme buyers. "It's the 'Sex and the City' seductiveness [of shopping]," said financial planner Stacy Frances, who runs Savvy Ladies, a nonprofit group that teaches women to take control of their finances. "It's a problem we're seeing more and more, especially here in New York," Frances said. "I see women with dozens and dozens of shoes, 20 pairs of black pants. They're using shopping as a solution to depression. They hide their purchases and deny they have a problem. " Super-shopping has become such a phenomenon there's even a new reality show on cable network A&E called "Big Spender. " A recent episode featured a debt-laden schoolteacher with a bad shoe-buying habit who's ambushed by a financial planner while she's pampering herself with a $100 Continue Reading

Accused stalker of ‘Orange is the New Black’ actress Taryn Manning may have violated plea deal by using computer

A woman who has been repeatedly accused of stalking and harassing “Orange is the New Black” star Taryn Manning may be about to blow her second plea deal. A hearing will held July 16 to determine if Jeanine Heller has crossed the line again by accessing a computer and potentially contacting the actress — against the conditions of her last plea. The 32-year-old former gal pal of Manning’s copped to a harassment violation in January and got 45 days in jail plus orders to complete intensive therapy. As part of the agreement Heller was not to have any computer access at all. But after she entered a plea for criminal contempt — which would have been wiped from her record eventually if she stayed out of trouble — prosecutors and her attorney came to an agreement that Heller could have limited use of the Internet by dictating things to her parents. On Monday, Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Ann Scherzer said the parental computer relay had to stop. She likened Heller’s compulsive behavior to that of a junkie. “I view your relationship to a computer the same way I would view a heroin addict’s relationship to heroin,” Sherzer said. Sherzer said Heller was to have no access to computers or devices with Internet access because in the event that Manning got questionable messages, she’d be the one to blame. “Your parents cannot use the computer on your behalf because once a computer has been touched … for better or worse there is an assumption that in some way you have been involved in it,” the judge said. Sherzer said she was “inclined” to toss Heller back in jail “after reviewing all the text messages which the DA showed me.” It wasn’t clear whether the judge meant that Heller had allegedly sent tweets or text messages to Manning — but any electronic contact from Heller to the actress, including through other people — was Continue Reading