March 18, 2008
Users experience cravings, withdrawal, psychiatrist says
Sharon Kirkey, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, March 17, 2008
Compulsive e-mailing and text messaging could soon become classified as an official brain illness.
An editorial in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry says Internet addiction — including “excessive gaming, sexual pre-occupations and e-mail/text messaging” — is a common compulsive-impulsive disorder that should be added to psychiatry’s official guidebook of mental disorders.
Like other addicts, users experience cravings, urges, withdrawal and tolerance, requiring more and better equipment and software, or more and more hours online, according to Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Dr. Block says people can lose all track of time or neglect “basic drives,” like eating or sleeping. Relapse rates are high, he writes, and some people may need psychoactive medications or hospitalization.