By Staff Writer
Internet addiction is a growing problem in today’s society. Increasing numbers of people suffer from the inability to close their web browsers and step away from their keyboards. While the addiction has yet to be recognized by the psychological establishment, experts say that the processes that underlie it are often similar those responsible for drug addiction.
In a recent column in Psychology Today, Psychiatrist Gary Small said that the brain chemical dopamine contributes to all types of addiction, including Internet addiction. It is responsible for pleasurable feelings, which is exactly what addicts become dependent on.
The sensations caused by dopamine prompts individuals to continue to interact with the stimuli that caused it originally, even when it becomes less pleasurable over time, he wrote. In this way, the Internet is no different than cocaine or heroin.
The treatments for the problem are also similar. Small said that anyone who is struggling with an Internet addiction should consider seeking help from a drug rehab and mental health facility, which is becoming more common. A 2005 study from researchers at the University of La Verne found that 84 percent of counselors believe in the dangers of Internet addiction.