November 16, 2010

For Immediate Release

Online Results show users may be addicted

According to reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program; Now in its Second Year of Operation

Research around the country is demonstrating the perils of the digital age: addiction, distraction, immaturity, disconnection, lower empathy, lowered creativity and analytical abilities, increased depression, and the list goes on.

In the past year, over 14,000 visitors participated in an anonymous website survey which asked the question, “Are you Internet Addicted?” An analysis of their responses yields results consistent with research findings from the field. More than ten percent (10.6%) of respondents acknowledged having a problem with “excessive use,” while 39.3% were open to the possibility that they may have a problem. More than half (50.4%) of the responses came from young adults between the ages of 18 and 28.  When asked about their preferred online activity, 25% said “surfing the net,” followed by 21.3% who preferred “online video gaming and Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs)”. Social Networking was preferred by 16.1% of survey respondents. Nearly one third of users (27.2%) disclose experiencing impairments in everyday life and social functioning as a result of their Internet or video game use.

ReSTART: Internet Addiction Recovery Program is now in its second year of operation. It continues to be the first of its kind: a therapeutic retreat center stay of 45 days or more, for adults suffering from Internet and video game addiction. It remains unique. No other center has opened in North America designed specifically to address this growing problem.

The center started with one 19 year old—a failed college student, who told his parents he was in trouble and needed help. Since that first participant, the program has had a steady stream of young adults, mostly between the ages of 18 and 28.  The majority have had difficulty completing college due to their Internet use. Most have had difficulty establishing and maintaining off-line relationships.

All have needed to learn non-escapist ways to deal with uncomfortable emotions. Many have needed to learn habits of good self-care, including exercise, nutritious eating, normal sleep, and maintaining a clean personal living environment.

By the way, that first young man is doing very well. Here are his parent’s words:

I am writing to give the highest recommendation of the extraordinary reSTART program for anyone who is dealing with computer, internet or video gaming addictions. Our son went through many forms of treatment in dealing with an addiction to electronic gaming—in his case, World of Warcraft in particular. In every situation (office visits, hospital in-patient programs, wilderness therapy and residential treatment) he worked with people who were sincere, devoted, and insightful, but none of them reached him in the way that Hilarie Cash and Cosette Rae did at reSTART.

Of particular value was the way they found people who could tie into our son’s previous activities and interests and get him re-involved with his “real life”. He really loved being at reSTART, and the transformation that occurred during the time he was in the program was remarkable. He came home with an understanding of his addiction, and of what he had lost over his year of playing World of Warcraft, and a real commitment to re-establishing real-life relationships. I thought you might want to send out the good news that your first client is still doing well and continues to make progress a year after he left reSTART.

ReSTART has taken an innovative whole person approach to treatment, combining the best of research-based techniques (like CBT and ACT), animal-facilitated therapy, wilderness adventure, traditional 12-steps, and the intimacy of a family-style, cooperative living environment. The 45-day period allows for staff to carefully assess and begin addressing underlying issues, co-morbid conditions, and skill deficits. By limiting access to digital technology for 45 days, the brain begins the process of “detoxing” which stimulates a return to healthier functioning. During this time, participants develop a recovery plan designed to allow the person to engage in moderate, healthy computer use after the program. Many who come to ReSTART have stayed longer than 45 days to solidify their new habits, increasing their chances of remaining addiction-free once they leave.

ReSTART is now partnering with Texas A&M Central to do formal research on Internet and Video Game Addiction.

For more information on reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program, contact Hilarie Cash, Ph.D., or Cosette Rae, MSW at (800) 682-6934.

 Additional survey response information follows.

  • Over half (52%) of respondents surveyed say they use the Internet to escape problems.
  • One third of users experienced chronic exhaustion (29.2%) and 41% were unsuccessful at limiting the amount of time spent interfacing with technology.
  • When access to the internet was limited by someone else, 11.5% of adults reported becoming violent or abusive.

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