Pennsylvania Hospital Launches First Inpatient Program to Treat Addiction to the Internet

©ourtesy of allgov.com

NET PLACEPeople love to joke about how addicting the online world can be, but for one hospital in Pennsylvania, overuse of the Internet is no laughing matter.

At the Bradford Regional Medical Center, mental health professionals have just started the nation’s first treatment program for Internet addiction.

Scheduled to open on September 9, the inpatient program will be run by specialists who have worked with individuals struggling with other addictions, like drugs and alcohol.

“[Internet addiction] is a problem in this country that can be more pervasive than alcoholism,” Dr. Kimberly Young, the psychologist who founded the treatment program, told Fox News. “The Internet is free, legal and fat free.”

The program is designed for those who describe their lives as spiraling out of control because of their obsession with online activities.

During their 10-day stay at the hospital, participants go through a “digital detox,” in which they are cut off from all Internet access for 72 hours. This period can produce withdrawal symptoms, including depression, irritability and in some cases violence, according to Dr. Roger Laroche, medical director of the department of psychiatry at Bradford Regional.

Laroche also said that most people with a severe Internet addiction have some type of undiagnosed psychiatric disorder or personality problem.

Treatment in the program includes group therapy as well as lessons that teach ways to minimally use the Internet and avoid applications that trigger unhealthy responses.

Because health insurance does not cover the novel program, the cost is steep: $14,000 a patient.

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