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Addicted to Internet?

Do you get on your computer and frequently find yourself lost in the maze of websites for countless hours? Does your curiosity of "who may be signed on Adam4Adam" or the excitement of your next "hunt on Craigslist" take over and you are no longer in control? Is you’re your internet life hidden, out of control, or emotionally painful? Good news… you are not alone.

Thousands of people get caught in the downward spiral of endless internet surfing for sexual releases, romantic encounters, erotic pornography, and one-night stands. The internet surfing of sites, such as Adam4Adam, Olivia, Poz.com, or Craigslist, can take over, hurt relationships, drown the finances, and/or potentially hurt your job success. Not only is the secret life of internet surfing a lonely journey, it is also compiled with shame and guilt. Life doesn’t have to be this way…

Here are few quick tips to take back control of your life:

1. Create Road-Blocks: The internet has become a main part of our society for socializing, working, dating, and communicating. It is unrealistic to stay completely off the internet. Take an active step and download software to block specific websites that are dangerous for you. This road-block can help you stay on track and prevent the quick dive into the endless surfing of temptation and pain.

2. Face Your Problems: Most people use the internet like a crutch; to self medicate when life gets rough, to relax from the day, and to escape from reality. Don’t put life on the back burner. Instead, begin to face the problems head-on and prevent issues from piling up and becoming worse.

3. Join Support Groups: If you have ever said, “that will be my last time” yet you continue to drown in the web, join a support group. San Diego has various free groups to help gain control without having to do it alone. Meet others that struggle with similar issues and get the support to help you take control. (San Diego Support Groups and Resources)

4. Avoid the “Easy Button:” The internet is commonly used to avoid daily life or to prevent from feeling emotions, similarly to the “easy button.” It makes life easy at that moment, yet actually creates a dependency. The common quote of “life isn’t easy” is a true reality, and many people attempt to take the easy road out. The “easy button” doesn’t help accumulate tools for challenges in life; it unfortunately leaves the tool box empty. Stop using the “easy button” and learn how to get through stress, loneliness, fear, and life.

5. Get Educated: Education builds strength, knowledge, and courage. Get educated on addiction. A few recommended books are “In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior” and “Understanding Sexual Addiction” by Patrick Carnes.

6. Seek Professional Help: Seek help from mental health professionals. They are trained to help others take back control and create a healthier balance.

7. Keep your Eye on the Prize: Relationships can suffer; focus on your relationship and keep eye on the prize of a healthy relationship. Remember, the relationship includes your personal happiness.

To learn more about the author Jennine Estes, San Diego’s Marriage and Family Therapist, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her San Diego Couples Therapy website.