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Digital Addiction

Gaming, Social Media, Pornography

Digital addictions are becoming more common as both young people and adults develop lifestyles and habits that result in excessive and damaging use. While many users do enjoy their gaming and technology use, their inflexible behaviour can result in detachment from loved ones and other hobbies and passions. Important life goals and responsibilities can become ignored due to conflicts with their online activity.

Treatment for gaming addiction, internet addiction and pornography addiction is a new frontier in psychology. Our practice is often applying new research throughout our treatments to help families and individuals to regain a balanced and meaningful use of technology.

Types of Digital Addictions

Digital addictions occur when salience, euphoria, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict and relapse occur:

  • Salience. This is when the particular activity becomes the most important activity in a person’s life and dominates their thinking, feelings and behaviour. For instance, even if the person is not actually engaged in the behaviour they will be thinking about the next time they will be.

  • Euphoria. This is the subjective experience that people report as a consequence of engaging in the particular activity (i.e. they experience a “buzz” or a “high”).

  • Tolerance. This is a process whereby increasing amounts of the activity is required to achieve the former effects. For instance, a gamer may have to gradually increase the length of time played to experience a euphoric effect that was initially obtained by a much shorter playtime.

  • Withdrawal symptoms. These are unpleasant feeling states and/or physical effects which occur when the particular activity is discontinued or suddenly reduced, e.g. the shakes, moodiness, irritability, etc.

  • Conflict. This refers to conflicts between the addict and those around them or within the individual themselves. Continual choosing of short-term pleasure and relief leads to a disregard of adverse consequences and long-term damage which in turn increases the apparent need for the addictive activity as a coping strategy.

  • Relapse and reinstatement. This is the tendency for repeated reversions to earlier patterns of the particular activity to recur and for even the most extreme patterns, typical of the height of the addiction, to be quickly restored after many years of abstinence or control.

How Treatment for Digital Addiction Works

 

While further research is necessary to improve our scientific understanding and treatment of digital addictions, our treatments adhere to current best practice and research to deliver improved mental health, relationship dynamics, and, most importantly, flexible and meaningful use of digital media. Treatment plans will often involve the following key components:

  • Psycho-education (e.g., the role and functions of mood and anxiety, how mood and anxiety is processed in the brain, how digital media becomes involved in emotional regulation, etc.)

  • Changing behavioural and thinking patterns (e.g., defuse from unhelpful thoughts, develop emotional regulation skills, learning to use relaxation & breathing skills, mindfulness skills, develop self-worth and confidence, etc.)

  • Meaningful goal-setting to promote actions and choices that enrich life and bring us closer to the people we care about.

  • Safety management to ensure that we are able to remain resilient to binges and avoid actions that harm our lives.

We understand that seeking psychological support can be a difficult experience for individuals and their families. As such, please feel welcome to contact us through any medium and our psychologists will be able to answer your questions, have a look through the website and give counselling a chance. We have helped many clients overcome issues with:

  • Gaming Addiction

  • Social Media Addiction

  • Pornography Addiction

  • Internet Addiction

  • Specific digital activities