The true cost of internet addiction: US$14,500

Paul Raven @ 25-08-2009

internet cafe signFinally, the spurious demon of  internet addiction gets its own Betty Ford clinic – complete with a scarily large price-tag. Ars Technica reports on the reSTART program that has just been launched by the Heavensfield Retreat Center in Washington State; enrolment for qualifying internet addicts has just begun, so block-book your 45-day break immediately! I guess you’ll not want to mark it in Google Calendar, though… [image by James Cridland]

Heavensfield certainly makes it sound like a professional and fully featured program, though:

reSTART offers counseling with professionally-trained staff, group therapy, vocational coaching, 12-step meetings, recreational activities, “high adventure” outings, health and fitness programs, and volunteer service. This is in addition to psychiatric assessments, medical treatment, scholastic tutoring, and career guidance. As pointed out by Mashable, you must qualify for reSTART by displaying symptoms of IAD, which include a strong impulse to use the Internet, withdrawal symptoms without it, a reduction in other interests or social activities as a result of the Internet, and an impairment of everyday life.

Hmm; that all sounds rather like someone I know… but then doesn’t pretty much anyone who isn’t a teetotaller come out looking like an alcoholic on the Alcoholics Anonymous tests?

That said, much as I’m skeptical about a high-dollar treatment program designed to cure it, I’m pretty sure there is an addictive component to the internet – my recent weeks without it were pure hell, though that was as much to do with being unable to work for my clients (and hence pay my rent) as anything else. Whether the addiction is a basic physiological response or a reflection of how swiftly and completely our social culture has migrated onto the intertubes remains a topic for debate, I think.