Internet addiction is no joke -- and now the U.S. is opening the nation's first hospital-based Internet addiction program in Pennsylvania.
Opening Sept. 9, Bradford Regional Medical Center in Bradford, Pa., has been garnering plenty of media buzz for its voluntary 10-day program for people with serious Internet issues. While a slew of "digital detox" programs are offered in the country, this program can intervene with medication, if needed, to treat withdrawal symptoms and diagnose and treat the underlying issues that often accompany the problem.
Research has found that Internet addicts and drug addicts experience similar withdrawal symptoms, especially when going cold turkey. A 2006 study by Stanford University's School of Medicine found that nearly one in eight Americans suffers from at least one sign of "problematic Internet use" -- such as the inability to stop looking at their phones or computers for an extended period of time. A Harvard University study last year also found that posting views on Facebook and other social media sites triggers the release of dopamine, the same pleasure-inducing chemical emitted by the brain when a person ingests cocaine or methamphetamine.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government is introducing a novel solution to the country's half a million web-addicted teens: Internet "fasting camps," where kids can enjoy the great outdoors, no gadgets allowed. According to a report in The Japan Times, Japan's Education Ministry plans to set up the camps next year, offering addicted students a chance to unplug from their computers and smartphones, enjoy some time in the real world, and face their addictions head-on with tablet-free counseling sessions and lectures.