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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I Have a Relative with Internet Addiction Disorder

I have a relative who is a computer addict. He does not want help and his addiction is getting worse. Do you know of an organization that can help?

My wife's nephew has been suffering from computer addiction since he was in college (15 years ago). Let us call him Jim (not his real name). The irony and sad fact is that computer science was his major. Because of this disorder, it took him six years to graduate for a four year course with the constant nagging of his Dad. After graduation, his Dad literally forced him to take a job. He stayed only four weeks in this job. He was either fired or he quit. His dad has a relative who needed a programmer. Jim worked there for six months. For reasons unknown he quit this second job without telling anyone. Today he is jobless.

Today, Jim lives alone in the ancestral home of the family here in US. Lucky for him, he has an older brother who is single that supports him. He has no friends and goes out of the house once week to buy his groceries. I talked to his brother last month and inquired about Jim. He is getting worse and is not communicative. The family wanted to commit him to a public mental hospital, but he would not go of his own free will. The family has no financial resources to get private medical help, because he has no insurance, nor is he covered with his brother's insurance. According to his brother, he seemed to be physically healthy, but not communicating at all. When you talk to Jim, he just gives you a blank stare according to his older brother. Jim's current status is as follows:

He has no friends, zero social interaction, is sometimes moody and just uses his computer almost all day and night except when he eats or does his bodily needs. He does not want help and will not talk to his family. Both Jim's father and mother are dead. He has a sister nearby, but he ignores her. Sometimes he complains to his brother that he has a hard time sleeping. He is also overweight and complains of back pain. I believe the above symptoms are typical of a computer addict.

What is computer addiction? According to Wikipedia, "Computer addiction is a loosely used term for the excessive use of computers to the extent that it interferes with daily life. Excessive use may explain problems in social interaction, mood, personality, work ethic, relationships, thought processes, or sleep deprivation. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not include a diagnosis for such a disorder.

Internet Addiction or Internet addiction disorder (IAD), covers a variety of impulse-control problems, including:

1. Cybersex Addiction – compulsive use of Internet pornography, adult chat rooms, or adult fantasy role-play sites impacting negatively on real-life intimate relationships.

2. Cyber-Relationship Addiction – addiction to social networking, chat rooms, texting, and messaging to the point where virtual, online friends become more important than real-life relationships with family and friends.

3. Net Compulsions – such as compulsive online gaming, gambling, stock trading, or compulsive use of online auction sites such as eBay, often resulting in financial and job-related problems.

4.Information Overload – compulsive web surfing or database searching, leading to lower work productivity and less social interaction with family and friends.

5.Computer Addiction – obsessive playing of off-line computer games, such as Solitaire or Minesweeper, or obsessive computer programming."

I believe my wife's nephew is not only suffering from item number 5 but also numbers 3 and 4. I hope he is indeed not suffering from items Number 1 and 2.

I feel sorry for the brother and his relatives, but there is nothing my wife and I can do. Do you know of an organization that can help Jim, considering the family financial situation?

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