Over the past 15 years, technology has become more affordable and accessible so that now almost everyone uses it daily. Whether at home, school or work, there is a high likelihood that using technology is integral to what you do. Everyone also relies on technology for their social life too. So, what happens when this goes too far? It can turn into an addiction. While this is becoming more common, so is the outpatient treatment for technology addiction.
What is Outpatient Treatment for Technology Addiction?
When you, or someone you love realizes that your reliance on technology has become pathological, it’s time to get help. This is not as simple as getting offline, although that will be the focus of the treatment. Outpatient treatment for technology addiction is fairly new, but there are some common approaches.
The first thing to have an initial assessment. One-on-one counseling should be taken advantage of, as the person can explore the underlying issues that contributed to the technology addiction.
Outpatient Technology Addiction treatment can involve abstinence and self-help groups, as well as therapy. 12-step programs specifically for technology addiction don’t yet exist, but following any 12-step program can be effective.
Positive Results from CBT
Dr. Kimberly Young is the leading Internet addiction therapist in the U.S. She has developed a three-phase approach to technology addiction treatment that combines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with Harm Reduction Therapy (HRT).
CBT counters negative thought patterns about one’s self and the world. It encourages people to change their thought processes. HRT is a set of practical strategies usually put in place to reduce the negative consequences of drug use. Dr. Young applies these to technology. Those who are addicted to technology often suffer from anxiety, depression or compulsive disorders so the therapy treats those conditions, as well.
Dr. David Greenfield is a psychologist who teaches at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He founded the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction in West Hartford and has treated people from all across the country. When dealing with patients, he advises that they install website blockers and monitoring software on their computers.
He also suggests ways for people to get back into the real world, away from their gaming technology or phones. It can be a slow path, but with a little effort, people find the real world more rewarding again. As technology addiction is not a recognized illness in healthcare plans yet, it can be costly for even outpatient services. It can cost up to $8,000 to undergo a full outpatient plan.
Is Technology Addiction Outpatient Treatment Effective?
Outpatient technology addiction treatment is proving effective in helping people manage their addiction. It is a challenge to do a digital detox, as everyone has access to technology in their pockets, at their fingertips, at work, and in the classroom. However, learning skills that can help people cope without leaning on technology for the wrong reasons is certainly seeing success. Therapy and counseling are also helping people develop different tactics so that they don’t slip back into patterns where their technology use causes damage to other parts of their lives.
The efficacy of outpatient technology addiction treatment is hard to perceive because it’s not about giving up technology forever. Also, because the illness and treatment are relatively new, following up with patients further down the road isn’t happening yet. It is not covered by any sort of health insurance because the addiction is not fully recognized under the DSM-5, except in a gaming context. Asking someone if they have given up technology for good a year after their treatment is pointless, the question is whether they are managing to limit their use of technology.
Of course one of the challenges of overcoming a technology addiction is that temptation is everywhere. Doctors say that it can be more challenging to treat, as unlike drugs or alcohol, no one can be expected to avoid technology altogether. It simply isn’t feasible when smartphones, laptops and other technology are required for work.
The efficacy has been demonstrated in changing patterns. It is all about setting goals and limiting use to wherever it is justly required. Engaging with people through a support group and talking about the underlying problems that may have contributed to over-use can be very helpful. Where families have been affected, workshops or family therapy can help people communicate and get things back on track.
Cutting out use of specific applications has had positive results too. Limiting any apps where people can mindlessly scroll or keep clicking into things has meant getting time back to do other things.
Dr. Greenfield has said that reprogramming people to use technology in a positive way is the key to successful technology addiction treatment. Practicing mindfulness and scheduling real-time events that don’t involve technology has also been a big difference in the lives of those recovering from technology addiction. Setting one hour a day for the use of technology is plenty, according to psychologists who specialize in outpatient treatment for technology addiction.
People who have successfully undergone outpatient treatment for technology addiction say that learning to identify their triggers has made overcoming the issue much easier. Finding different methods of managing these triggers means they are unlikely to relapse. Understanding technology addiction is much like understanding other addictions. If anything is causing a negative effect in your life, then it needs to be curtailed.