Internet Addiction
December 4, 2007 6:32 AM   Subscribe

I am a chronic procrastinator and I am addicted to the Internet. I am looking for an organization similar to Alcoholics Anonymous in or near Berkeley, California.

Please, no remarks about how MetaFilter is more addictive than crack. I recognize the irony in asking this question here but unfortunately it is not a joke. I've been struggling with this problem for many years and I need help. Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Internet addiction is not universally recognized as a real disorder, unlike substance abuse problems. The wikipedia entry on internet addiction has some good info on the debate on whether or not it should be considered a real condition.

There are some good article links in the wikipedia entry, including ones that suggest internet addiction may actually be hiding a different problem. You may have an undiagnosed case of some other common disorder, such as ADD or OCD.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:43 AM on December 4, 2007

You might want to start here. They only list one resource in CA which isn't quite what you're looking for.

There is a psychologist down in Santa Barbara that specializes in this, but I'm not sure about anything in the Bay Area, other than this guy that I found via Google (his additional info lists internet addiction).

I'd just google / phone-book around for therapists in Berkley that specialize in addiction therapy, if I were you.

I hope you can beat this - and I'd love to hear how.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:54 AM on December 4, 2007

If your internet usage is preventing you from living, then it's a problem.
If you use the computer as much as someone would use TV when they're bored, I don't see a problem.
Replace computer use with other activities.
Go to the gym, go to local events (use google to find them), call some friends to hang out and play a boardgame or talk, pick up a sport and do it.
I think it's all about the options you have. It sounds like you don't know how to have fun other than browsing the net, so open your horizons and find other activities that don't involve computers.
posted by PowerCat at 6:58 AM on December 4, 2007

The question is:

I am looking for an organization similar to Alcoholics Anonymous in or near Berkeley, California.
posted by fake at 7:13 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think by most criteria for addiction, I'm addicted to the web. I use it compulsively, it interferes with other aspects of my life, I feel uneasy when going without it for long periods of time, etcetra. That said, the line between addiction and bad habit is poorly defined, and is arguably semantic.

As burnmp3s says, in my case and perhaps in yours this is a manfestation of ADD. The web is ADD crack - instant access to limitless and densely interconnected snippets of information. Metafilter is as straight and pure as it gets - usually high quality, constantly updated, no guiding theme at all.

I don't know anything about groups as you ask, but I'll tell you what has helped me as far as reigning in my web mania.

The problem with the net is that most of us really can't just quit cold turkey - we have to use it for all sorts of legit activity. So the real problem is random browsing. The best method I've found is to have very specific goals and a time limit every time I sit down at a machine: I'm going to spend 15 minutes trying to look up an inuitive explanation for de Moivre's formula. I used to do this by just looking at the clock, but this was too distracting so I found a vibrating timer. This works extremely well, because now I can focus exclusively on the task at hand and the formerly "legitimate" worry of checking the clock can be ignored.

I use this timer for pretty much everything now. A friend asked me if I was diabetic because I suddenly had a little white box on my waist all the time. The only time I really get off track these days in when I fail to wear it.
posted by phrontist at 7:13 AM on December 4, 2007

Seconding PowerCat's recommendation.
Merely replace "computer time" with something else. Brainstorm a list of 100 things you could do OTHER THAN surf the net.
Make some of them free, make some of them cost something, make some of them pertain to your fitness level, your diet, your social circle, etc.
If you're spending a lot of time on the 'net, you might be neglecting other parts of your life.
If you think about your life as a pie chart, right now the internet surfing piece is too big, and others too small.
Take at least one concrete action each day to correct this situation.
posted by willmize at 7:15 AM on December 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

Are you addicted to a specific activity on the internet (gambling, shopping, porn)? If so you could look for support in that specific area. Or is procrastination the problem, and the internet just the distraction activity? Therapy and support for severe procrastination is also pretty well-evolved. This Procrastinators section on Meetup seems to be in earnest.

I hope you're not one of those Mefites who gets weirdly uptight when comments don't answer the question with laserlike specificity, because I predict you're going to get a lot of tips and tricks here, rather than support groups. I would urge you to be open to them: they might turn out to be much more use.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:19 AM on December 4, 2007

This guy (way down at the bottom of the page) says his treatment services include internet addiction and that he has a separate office in Berkley.
posted by 4ster at 8:41 AM on December 4, 2007

Niel Fiore wrote "The Now Habit," a book about solving procrastination. I read it and found it very helpful. His website shows he is available for coaching and is located near Berkeley.
posted by conrad53 at 8:45 AM on December 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think you might want to explore whether you are depressed. I've known people who were obsessive Internet junkies and it turned out that they were just using Web surfing as a way to hide from the real or imagined problems in their lives.

A good psychiatrist or therapist might be a good first step.
posted by reenum at 9:10 AM on December 4, 2007

Me, too.
Lifehacker does good articles on procrastination
Zenhabits is good, too.

At least you can procrastinate by surfing articles on not procrastinating. That sounds snarky, which I don't intend. I do find both sites helpful.
posted by theora55 at 9:18 AM on December 4, 2007

Go to an open AA meeting (that's not just for alcoholics). Ask around - at the very least you'll be around people sympathetic to your addiction. Do a search for AA in Berkeley - I'm sure they have a website or a phone number that lists open meetings. (I'm at work & don't want that in my search history here.)

Feel free to e-mail or mefimail me. I have other ideas & personal struggles I don't wish to share in public.
posted by desjardins at 9:31 AM on December 4, 2007

I am slowly forcing myself off of the computer habit. I too have an obsession to check email, play my stupid games and read news and blogs like they're about to be deleted.

But what I've been doing more and more of is asking myself what would happen if I didn't go to my computer for another fifteen minutes or half hour. And you know what? Nothing happens. I get other things done, I spend happy time with my kids, I get the dishes done and make positive changes in my immediate life and the internet is still there when I do go and sit down at my computer again.

I understand that my situation is different from yours but these are the steps I'm taking in weaning myself from 24/7 connections.

We'll see what happens when I get an iPhone.
posted by fenriq at 10:18 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm currently reading The Now Habit and am finding it very helpful. Seconding the suggestion to contact Neil Fiore.
posted by mogget at 10:33 AM on December 4, 2007

I am in Berkeley and will be your leave-the-house buddy if you want one. You can help me run a friend's city council campaign, which is way more interesting than Metafilter. E-mail is in my profile.
posted by parmanparman at 11:00 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

For everyone who keeps repeating what the question says, yes - I noticed that.

The problem is, OP, that there are precious few of such groups designed for this specific purpose out there. You're going to find a lot of help if your problem is drugs or alcohol, but it isn't. You have a newer addiction, but its still an addiction. Since the type of help you desire might not be out there, you may need to adjust your expectations a bit and seek out therapy, a leave-the-house buddy, help via an AA meeting, etc..
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:38 AM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

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