Today's post is based on news article "Son helps pornography addict father to kick the habit" published in The Times of India, Ahmadabad edition, dated 8/12/09. This article highlights how teenaged sons have helped their fathers kick the habit of internet addiction, setting an excellent example for others.
Talking more about Internet addiction also known as internet compulsion, the affected person spends hours before the computer terminal spiraling down to most of the waking period in severe cases. They cannot resist strong urges to use the computer or "surf the web" and this occurs repetitively and constantly day after day. The theme of usage as in the above case was pornographic sites but it can be anything from shopping, chatting, blogging, sex to interactive video gaming. Video game addiction is a variant of internet addiction. Most of the recent video games have a violent theme. Read my previous article on the effect of Television on children where I have highlighted how violent programs can lead children towards aggressive and violent behavior.
With the advent of web technology we are spending more and more time in front of the computer surfing social networking sites like orkut, facebook and others, so it becomes difficult to say "HOW MUCH IS OK?". But you can realize that it's a problem behavior when it is consuming so much time as to interfere with social or occupational functioning, or to cause financial problems.
HOW TO IDENTIFY IMPULSE CONTROL PROBLEMS?
Internet addiction is a part of the whole gamut of disorders associated with Impulsivity. Impulsivity is a tendency to act suddenly, without any previous planning and as soon as the thought occurs. It's not a onetime occurrence, the behavior is repetitive. The various other themes are
Cannot control impulses to buy things - Compulsive buying or Oniomania
Cellular or mobile phone compulsion
Cannot resist acting on sexual impulses - Paraphilias or Compulsive sexual behavior
Cannot control aggressive impulses - Intermittent explosive disorder
Cannot control impulse to start a fire - Pyromania
Cannot resist stealing objects even though he/she does not need them - Kleptomania
Cannot resist the impulse to pull out ones hairs - many times leading to baldness and consultation with dermatologist - Trichotillomania
Cannot control impulse to gamble - Pathological gambling
Inability to control impulse to use alcohol, cigarette or other prohibited substance
Inability to control impulse to binge-eat - Anorexia nervosa / Bulimia nervosa
Impulsivity can also seen in person suffering from psychosis, mania, depression, adjustment disorder, under the effect of alcohol
ADHD (Attention deficit and Hyperactivity) and conduct disorder are additional causes of impulsivity in children
Antisocial or borderline personality may emerge during the adolescent years
Delirium, dementia and brain tumors may be additional causes of impulsivity in older age.
No 1-8 represent impulse control disorders and are easy to identify, the rest may require detailed psychiatric evaluation to decipher.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP THE AFFECTED PERSON?
The difficult part may be getting the affected person to seek help. When out rightly confronted with his behavior he/she may completely deny that it as a problem. The best way is to remind the person of how each of his failure is being contributed by his compulsive behavior. It is not one single session of comprehensive talking that does the job but a NONJUDGEMENTAL AND PERSISTENT APPROACH is required. Most addicted persons need a series of reminders of how their compulsive behaviour contributed to each developing crisis before they seriously consider seeking help as an option.