Do You Have Internet Addiction Disorder?

Kimmel & Associates e-Letter

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates

Volume 8, Number 9

It is September and fall is just around the corner. The summer seems like it just flew by. The problems in the world seem to keep increasing with the byproduct of creating great stress and worry for us. We suggest that you develop a stress reduction program that includes physical exercise, good sleeping habits, and good eating habits. We also suggest that you develop a good support system of friends and family that you communicate with regularly and see often. Such a program can help to reduce stress and cope with the anxieties in our world.

In this September E-letter, we provide information about Internet Addiction Disorder, our Ask the Doc question is about finding happiness, and our email of the month is about the origins of common sayings. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. As always, we appreciate your questions and comments are welcomed.

Practice News

Low Cost Counseling. Denise Champagne, M.S., is offering low cost counseling as she awaits her licensure. She is currently seeing patients and is available to take on new patients. This allows those individuals who cannot afford treatment to obtain it and allows her to complete the required number of additional clinical hours for full licensure. If you or someone you know is in need of counseling but just cannot afford it, please call the office and ask for Denise. All treatment provided by Denise will be reviewed and supervised by Dr. Kimmel.

Research Study. We are pleased to announce that we are currently participating in a four month research study with Life Extension Institute assessing the effects of cognitive therapy, nutritional supplements, and medications on weight management in overweight individuals. Dr. Kimmel and Denise Champagne have been conducting cognitive therapy groups for a sample of 40 subjects who will be followed by three physicians. Preliminary results indicate early success for those subjects who are in the study. For more information, contact our administrative assistant, Jillian, at 954 755-2885.

Testings. If you are concerned about your child’s school placement for the next school year, this would be a good time to have them evaluated. Recent questions from parents have ranged from should their child be retained to whether they are gifted to whether they have a disability that can qualify for accommodations at school. Our practice does different types of evaluations to help answer those questions and information about these evaluations can be found on our website. If you have more specific questions, please contact Dr. Kimmel who would be happy to answer them.

Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. For several months now, we have been offering the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Sometimes referred to as the Divorce Class, it is required by the State of Florida for all parents divorcing or separating even if not legally married. We have provided this course many times and have designed it as a 4-hour, one-session presentation that focuses on ensuring that parents protect their children from the effects of divorce or separation by setting aside their differences and focusing on the children’s need for both parents in their lives. The course also provides information about divorce as loss, gives an overview of the Florida laws and statutes related to divorce and custody issues, and offers information on how children react to divorce based on their ages.  The course is offered live on a flexible schedule, based on the availability of those attending the course.  Please contact our Administrative Assistant, Jillian, at 954 755-2885 for additional information.

Qualified Supervisor. Dr. Joel Kimmel has been certified by the State of Florida to supervise mental health counselors seeking supervision to meet the licensing requirements. If you or anyone you know needs a qualified supervisor to meet these requirements, contact Dr. Kimmel for further information.

Handouts from previous e-Letters can be found on our website. We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on Internet Addiction, which has been recognized as a disorder for further study in the new DSM-5. It is a controversial diagnosis as some believe that it is not a true addiction but a manifestation of other psychological disorders. Others believe that it is a true addiction in the sense that people cannot control their use, that continued use of the internet leads to adverse life consequences, and that users suffer withdrawal when they cannot check-in online or get onto the internet. Consider what it is like for an internet addict who can’t access their Facebook account.

The fact that many people take this as a serious disorder was shown recently by the opening of the first inpatient treatment center at the Behavioral Health Services at Bradford Regional Medical Center. The program was organized by experts in the addiction field and cognitive therapists with backgrounds in treating drug and alcohol abuse. Dr. Kimberly Young, the psychologist who founded the program, has said that internet addiction “is a problem in this country that can be more pervasive than alcoholism,” as “The Internet is free, legal and fat free.”

Internet Addiction Disorder is an umbrella term for excessive and compulsive internet use that interferes with daily living activities. People with IAD need to spend a great deal of time on the internet to the point where their work, health and relationships suffer. They become dependent on using the internet and spend more and more time online to achieve a “high” or sense of satisfaction. They suffer anxiety, loneliness, frustration and even depression when they can’t stay in touch with their online contacts and community or play their multitude of games. They become frantic when they can’t get a wifi or cell signal and become extremely upset when defriended, unfollowed, or delinked.

IAD includes:

  • Cybersex compulsive behavior which is the use of the internet for pornography, adult chat rooms, sexual role-playing fantasy sites, sexting, etc.
  • Cyber relationships which are virtual, online relationships that becomes more important than real life relationships such as social networking, chatting, video games, texting, etc.
  • Net compulsions such as compulsive online gambling, stock trading, shopping, auction buying, email and Facebook check-ins, etc.
  • Information overload such as compulsive web surfing and database searching
  • Computer addiction including compulsive playing of online or offline games

The most common of these internet addictions are cybersex, online gambling, and cyber-relationships.

Common signs of IAD include:

  • Losing track of online time and being on the internet longer than you thought
  • Not completing tasks at work or home because of time on the internet
  • Neglecting friends and family or isolating oneself to be with virtual friends whom they don’t even know
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of internet use
  • Feeling euphoric or “high” when on the internet
  • Neglecting sleep and not eating well when at the computer
  • Withdrawing from pleasurable activities
  • Lying to others
  • Physical symptoms such as carpal tunnel syndrome, backaches, headaches, strained vision, weight gain or loss
  • Excessive online shopping

To overcome an internet addiction, a person must be honest and open with themselves. They must admit that they have compulsive behaviors and learn how to control them. They must recognize the unhealthiness of how they are living and the consequences if they continue to live this way.

To overcome the addiction, internet addicts need to find and practice other behaviors. They need to develop an interest or find a hobby that does not involve smart phones, video games, computers, iPads, or other electronics. It would be better for them to visit book stores, museums, theatres, sporting events, concerts, and libraries. Joining a book club or taking an in-person class or going to discussions would allow them to meet and interact with people face-to-face.

Since using the internet is a necessity and cannot be completely eliminated, home, school, and work chores should be completed before going online. Time on the computer needs to be limited and a timer may have to be employed. Other suggestions include calling and visiting people rather than texting. Exercising, having good sleep hygiene and eating healthy and of course, away from the computer, will empower people to overcome compulsive behaviors. Unplugging themselves for prolonged periods of time will also help to gain control of their lives. Finally, seeking professional assistance can help people to learn to use the internet as a tool and not let it become a way of life.

We offer the following information on Do You Have Internet Addiction Disorder:

The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free— Nassim Nicholas Taleb

What to Know!

  • Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is an umbrella term for excessive or compulsive internet use that interferes with daily living and activities such as school and work
  • Internet use becomes an addiction when you compulsively check in, look for a wifi/cell signal, post to facebook, etc. despite it having negative consequences in your life
  • The DSM-5 includes Internet Use Disorder in a section on conditions for further study
  • IAD appears to be related to Communication Addiction Disorder which is the necessity of being in constant contact with other people through Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. despite there being no practical necessity for communication
  • IAD includes cybersex, cyber relationships, net compulsions such as gambling and stock trading, information overload such as compulsive web surfing, and computer addiction such as compulsive playing of games like Solitaire
  • People with IAD often suffer from depression and anxiety related disorders and use the internet to escape from stress, loneliness, unpleasant feelings, and problems
  • According to the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, over 60% of people seeking treatment for IAD engage in inappropriate sexual activities online and more than 50% are addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, or cigarettes
  • Recent research indicates that people with IAD use the internet an average of 38 hours a week for non-productive purposes resulting in poor grades, poor work performance, and relationship problems
  • A study at Alfred University found that 43% of normally successful students with SAT scores of 1200-1300 had failed out of school due to extensive late night computer use
  • Signs of IAD include losing track of time, isolating from friends and family, neglecting sleep to stay online, lying and being dishonest, not completing tasks, feeling guilty about internet use, and feeling a “high” while in internet activities
  • Physical symptoms include strained vision, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, headaches and backaches, sleep problems, weight gain or loss
  • Behavioral Health Services at Bradford Regional Medical Center is the first hospital in the country to open an inpatient Internet Addiction treatment program
  • “Digital Detox” is a treatment modality where patients are not allowed to use the computer or any internet connection for 72 hours and often have withdrawal symptoms including depression, irritability, anxiety, and violent behavior

What to Do!

  • Admit that you have an internet addiction or dependency and that you are not alone
  • Be honest with yourself and find a hobby or other interest that does not involve video games, cell phones, computers, iPads, or other electronics
  • Be active and visit the library, book store, museum, theatre, or beach
  • Help with home chores and complete your school and other work
  • Hang out with friends in person and have a family night
  • Limit your computer time and actually call people on the phone
  • Strengthen your coping skills, physically exercise, and eat away from the computer
  • Seek professional help to learn to use the internet positively and not compulsively

We Can Help!

Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates
5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101
Coral Springs, Florida 33067

As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

Ask the Doc

EB writes:  I feel very frustrated that I keep working and working and seem to get nowhere. I have been at the same job for 15 years and make a pretty good living. My marriage is good and my 2 kids are doing well in school. My health is good but I worry a lot. On Facebook, I see my friends are all traveling and buying new cars and I can’t. I am just not happy. Can you help me?

Dr. Kimmel replies: EB, you are far from being alone. I have seen many, many people in my practice who describe situations similar to yours. In my opinion, you won’t find happiness by checking out others or by thinking you deserve it. Happiness comes from being content with yourself.

We are conditioned by society to need more, to want more, and to expect more. We are taught to look at what we don’t have not what we do have. We are taught to want what others have and to go into debt to get it. Television commercials always show people as happy when they buy something. The message is clear; “if you want to be happy, buy our product. And we can arrange financing for you”. Immediate gratification and entitlement are the key words that characterize our society. As long as you look outside yourself, you will find discontent and unhappiness.

Rather I think it would be better for you to look at what you do have and count your blessings. You report having a good job, a good living, good health, a good marriage, and 2 good kids. How many people do you know who could say the same thing? Isn’t this what really matters? What more do you feel is missing? If you think its material things, you would be wrong. Happiness does not come from acquiring wealth and possessions. Just ask some of the very wealthy patients I have in my practice. Their unhappiness is just as real as yours.

There is an old saying in Pirkei Avos or Ethics of the Fathers that he who is truly wealthy is he who is content with his lot. I would say the same for happiness. Look and appreciate what you have and you will find your happiness.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank Chandra P. for sending us the following email:

The Origin Of Some Old Sayings

ON TENTERHOOKS… After it was woven wool was pounded in a mixture of clay and water to clean and thicken it. This was called fulling. Afterwards the wool was stretched on a frame called a tenter to dry. It was hung on tenterhooks. So if you were very tense, like stretched cloth, you were on tenterhooks.

PEEPING TOM… According to legend a man named Leofric taxed the people of Coventry heavily. His wife, Lady Godiva, begged him not to. Leofric said he would end the tax if she rode through the streets of Coventry naked. So she did. Peeping Tom is a much later addition to the story. Everybody in Coventry was supposed to stay indoors with his or her shutters closed. However peeping Tom had a sneaky look at Godiva and was struck blind.

…This is something bought without checking it first. A poke was a bag. If you bought a pig in a poke it might turn out the ‘pig’ was actually a puppy or a cat.

POT LUCK… In the past all kinds of food went into a big pot for cooking. If you sat down to a meal with a family you often had to take ‘pot luck’ and could never be quite sure what you would be served.

PULL THE WOOL OVER MY EYES… In the 18th century it was the fashion to wear white, curly wigs. they were nick named wool possibly because they resembled a sheep’s fleece.

READ THE RIOT ACT… Following a law of 1715 if a rowdy group of 12 or more people gathered, a magistrate would read an official statement ordering them to disperse. Anyone who did not, after one hour, could be arrested and punished.

RED TAPE… This phrase comes from the days when official documents were bound with red tape.

RUB SALT INTO A WOUND… This is derived from the days when salt was rubbed into wounds as an antiseptic.

SHORT SHRIFT… A shrift was a confession made to a priest. Criminals were allowed to make a short shrift before they were executed. so if you gave somebody short shrift you gave them a few minutes to confess their sins before carrying out the execution.

… Rope was made in ports everywhere. The rope makers chatted while they worked. They told each other stories while they were spinning a yarn.

Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our e-Letter.

Till October…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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Copyright © 2014 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.