Dealing With Substitute Addictions: Internet Addiction

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Why Do We Turn To The Internet?

In recovery from chemical dependency, some of us turn to the internet for comfort and reassurance. We may engage in social networking, either through emails or Facebook, or we may become skilled as successful gamers. One way or another, we may find ourselves spending large amounts of time in front of a computer or other device, and we don’t realize how much we have replaced our real world experience with a virtual one.

Of course our inner Addict provides us with all the rationalizations we need. After all, this is what everyone we know is doing. And this is how people communicate with each other today, they send text messages instead of talking face-to-face. Besides, competing with unknown others in an online game keeps our mind sharp and ready for the unexpected.

Well, some of this internet activity may be worthwhile, but it can become excessive. Our inner Addict wants to separate us from anyone who might expose our proclivities. And it achieves this by getting us to relate primarily with our fantasies or our projections. We cannot afford such delusions, rather we need to keep ourselves grounded in the real world. And we do this by showing up at our recovery meetings and making time for face-to-face meetings with friends and family.

Richard G. Hartnett, MA, MS, LCADC is a former Jesuit priest who now lives with his wife, Kathy, by a lake in northwestern New Jersey. He has served as the chaplain at Hazelden New York, pastoral counselor at the Chemical Dependency Department of the International Center for the Disabled in NYC, and continuing care counselor at the outpatient Chemical Dependency Program of High Focus Centers in New Jersey. Currently he maintains a private practice in New Jersey. He is the author of The Presence at the Center, Renewing Your Fourth Step, The Three Inner Voices: Uncovering the Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery, and Sobriety and Inspiration: Entrusting Ourselves to the Source of Our Healing and Creativity.

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