For many, the Internet is a means of keeping up with friends and family, checking the latest news updates, watching popular TV shows and movies, or surfing around various websites. For others, it’s somehow become an unbreakable addiction that’s led some to take their own lives.
For people with a legitimate addiction to the Internet, their lives become unmanageable because of their need to live in a virtual world. Now, there is hope for those suffering. Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania has recently opened a rehab center for those dealing with Internet addiction.
The 10-day in patient treatment program that the medical center offers to those diagnosed with severe Internet addiction will consist of a strict digital detox (patients cannot use phones, tablets, and the Internet for at least 72 hours), attend therapy sessions, and meet for educational courses, all in an effort to help treat their addiction.
"I've studied Internet addiction since 1995," said Dr. Kimberly Young, director of the Internet addiction program at Bradford, in a recent statement. "Back then, people laughed when I told them what I did. Today, it is incredible to see my life's work become a reality that will help so many people in need of treatment."
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Bradford Regional Medical Center says that while Internet addiction has yet to be classified as a mental illness (the treatment program is not covered by insurance because of this), Internet Gaming Disorder was recently included in Section 3 of DSM-V, the bible of American psychiatric medicine.
“In consultation with Dr. Young, we have developed an innovative and timely program to address this very real and serious disorder,” said Dr. Roger Laroche, medical director of Behavioral Health Services at Bradford. “Utilizing specialized techniques, patients receive psychiatric evaluations, medically supervised treatment, individual and group psychotherapy, and family consultation.”
Many of the patients that will enter the treatment program at Bradford Regional Medical Center spend most of their time awake on the Internet, whether it’s playing online games, being a part of an online community, or other online applications. Right now, the program is only taking up to 4 people, but they hope to expand in the future.
“BRMC is proud to launch the first program of its kind in the US,” said Timothy J. Finan, CEO of Upper Allegheny Health System, the parent company of Bradford. “Our mission is to help others and we have a vision to offer a national program that will help so many with state-of-the-art facilities and a team of qualified experts.”