How To Break Your Addictive Patterns

Marriage and family therapist Dr. Sheri Meyers, Psy.D. shares tips for cutting down on the clicks.

Beating Internet Addiction:

Recovering from an Internet addiction is just like recovering from any other addiction. In addition to committing to Internet “rehab,” you’ll need to address the underlying problems that led to you becoming susceptible to it in the first place, such as boredom, anxiety and depression.

Tip #1: Build up your “real life” social network. Quality real life relationships can lessen your need for online relationships. Set aside time daily to spend totally UNPLUGGED with friends and family.

Tip #2: Set use goals and stick to them. Limit the amount of time you spend online with the help of a timer. Commit to turning off your computer, tablet or smartphone after a certain hour in the evenings and spend that time with your family instead.

Tip #3: Treat the Internet as a tool, not as a best friend. Technology has become an indispensible pipeline of information and interaction and thus, is hard, if not impossible to give it up entirely. Be mindful of the exact reason you’re getting online and stick to that reason. Don’t let a check of the weekend weather turn into a two-hour stint following threads on Facebook.

Tip #4: Alter your routine, break your usage patterns. Take note of the times of day you’re most vulnerable to mindlessly surfing the Internet and then take action to disrupt those habits with alternative behavior: take a walk, call a friend, play with your kids or pets, or run an errand.

Just like any other addiction, there will be withdrawal symptoms when you take away the drug of choice—in this case, the dopamine hit you get from Internet use. You’ll look for ways to justify going back to it, and you’ll have slip ups every now and then. The key is to not let small setbacks lead to a major failure. Be compassionate with yourself and ask for help when you need it. Take it one day at a time. Eventually, you’ll find yourself able to enjoy the Internet and social media for what it was intended to be —a tool that adds fun and interest to everyday life — and not something that it was never intended to be—an escape from everyday life.

Do you have any advice for overcoming addiction?