Next Monday (Sept. 9), the Behavioral Health Services department at Bradford Regional Medical Center in north-central Pennsylvania plans to open an inpatient treatment program for people who suffer from severe Internet addiction. The voluntary, 10-day program accepts four adults at a time, who will participate in a “digital detox,” receive an evaluation, and, if necessary, attend group therapy sessions and learn modification behaviors. While there, patients will reside in the same hospital wing reserved for drug and alcohol addicts.
What’s the Big Idea?
Although treatment centers for Internet addiction have appeared in the last few years, Bradford’s program will be the first of its kind based out of an established US psychiatric facility. Its founder, psychologist Kimberly Young, first presented a paper on the phenomenon in 1996, and she notes that it’s meant to help those whose lives are being dramatically affected by their problem: “[It]…can be more pervasive than alcoholism…The Internet is free, legal and fat-free.” The issue has grown to the point where the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5), released last May, listed “Gaming Disorder” for the first time, though it wasn’t labeled as an official psychiatric condition.
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