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Online Addictions Could Have Significant Impact on Health

Nearly every individual has the potential to develop an addiction to something. Whether it is a substance that is illegal or unhealthy, an online game, a particular type of food or even a specific activity, developing an addiction is not something saved only for those with a tendency to move towards drugs or alcohol.

Only certain addictions are identified as being a threat to an individual’s health, although recent research shows that obsessive addictions could lead to mental issues. A recent article out of Australia in the Sydney Morning Herald suggests that such use and addiction to the Internet could create a mental-health epidemic. In fact, one Sydney academic warns that such an epidemic would put 10 percent of adolescents at risk.

Lawrence Lam, a behavioral epidemiologist at the University of Sydney and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, noted that world studies have documented dangerous levels of Internet addiction.

Studies in Greece and the United States have found that 8 percent of adolescents could be classified as computer addicts. The level of addictive computer use in China is 14 percent. Dr. Lam estimates that Australia is following the same trend.

Researchers the world over still do not agree whether or not to label the problem as an addiction or a mental-health problem. Many a psychiatrist still denies that it is even possible to develop such an addiction. According to Lam, however, they are missing key points.

Lam highlighted those who play online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft, as being especially prone to the condition, which he defined as an “uncontrollable and damaging use of the internet.” According to Dr. Lam, boys are 50 percent more likely to be affected than girls.

There is still hope.

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