How is it treated and how to avoid it?

Internet addiction responds to a type of addiction associated with a terminal with an Internet connection. This non-toxic addiction falls within the addictions of behavior in which an uncontrollable vice develops. Sometimes, not carrying out this activity leads to symptoms of bad feeling, anxiety and even disorders.

Dr. Fàbregas talks about the new disorders such as being addicted to the internet and how to approach this pathology.

Adicción a internet


Internet addiction is linked to addiction to new technologies, and it is likely to be associated with mobile addiction in many cases, even having a strong link with mobile addiction as an associative tool.

The use of the Internet in general makes life easier in the digital age, but the problem arises from the harmful use that can be made. That is to say, Internet addicts arise as a consequence of the excessive habit of the Internet.

Spending more time on the Internet than it requires, even getting involved excessively, even creating a personality or image to which a person can become addicted, generates an unreal double life, which can generate disorders.

The majority of patients associated with the pathology of Internet addiction are young people in the adolescent stage, when they are most vulnerable. It is also worth mentioning that increasingly, society allows adults to enter the circle of this pathology as society develops behavior.

In Spain, it is estimated that between 6 and 9 percent of regular Internet users can generate an addiction to the Internet or social networks.


  • Prevent the person from becoming isolated from the family. The most practical solution to this issue is that to connect you must be in a common area of the house, for example, the living room, and always near an adult to establish conversations. Avoiding leaving them alone in front of the Internet means preventing them from closing in on themselves, on the Internet or social networks, and being accompanied reduces the possibility of emotional emptiness.
  • Change the routine, in such a way that the Internet goes into the background. You have to make them generate interest for your day to day.
  • Use communication and pedagogy. Having constant communication with the possible Internet or social media addict is essential to see and detect deficiencies or problems that may generate the extreme need for connection.
  • Control anxiety, school or work performance. At the moment it seems obvious that the addiction is affecting the life of the addict, it is highly recommended to contact an addiction center.



    Medical Assessment and Diagnosis

    First, it is always essential to carry out a task of clinical evaluation of the problem that will begin by filling in the patient’s medical history. Professionals collect the maximum data on the use and abuse of new technologies (Internet, chats, social networks, mobile …), and study other aspects such as the well-being and mental health of the person. That is, what role does the use of social networks and the internet in general develop in your life. It is also just as important to identify what activities you carry out within the Network, how long you access, and what consequences the non-use has at the motivational level and in general mood. As well as the feelings of spending a lot of time connected and how it influences and how this has influenced their daily life, among other issues.

    The clinical evaluation is completed by information about the patient’s personality and socio-family environment. This previous study provides us with information about the psychological or psychiatric aspects that are part of the problem.

    Therapeutic Planning

    After the evaluation and diagnosis, at CITA we design a specific treatment plan with the patient. This will include the objectives and aspects to be treated, as well as the therapeutic work sessions and change of habits.

    Psychological Intervention

    During this phase of psychological intervention, psychological and learning aspects will be worked on that will aim to:

    • Learn to organize leisure time and manage anxiety or other emotions without using the internet as a source of refuge, escape or alternative to coping with the underlying problem.
    • Appreciate being alone and being able to do it without fear or need linked to the Internet constantly.
    • Generate confidence and self-control in the person so that she herself decides to get out of the automatism and the harmful use and abuse of the mobile, internet or social networks.
    • Build a foundation of responsibility to solve “problems”, understand what it means and what kind of approach should be used for the future.


    1. Limit activity: Reducing the use to certain times of the day can help not to make use at specific times that do not require it. Examples: while studying, watching a movie, at a concert, at meetings, family meals, etc …
    2. Diversify your leisure: do not occupy all your free time with new technologies. Play sports, change habits and socialize help avoid the need to use the Internet.
    3. If many people tell you: “You are obsessed” think that you should check the use and frequency that you give the Internet.
    4. Control in adolescents and children, as well as the location of the computer in common places (the classroom, for example), analyze and control the content, constitute strategies of interest and orientation of how it is affecting them or if they have a problem.
    5. Seek professional help if the situation has become uncontrollable, you suffer from anxiety or other dangerous symptoms, going to a center such as CITA to address the problem with specialists, can help you in the long run.


    Internet addiction treatment usually requires a strong intervention from the psychological aspect, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary to complement it with the psychopharmacological, since both act by generating synergies that facilitate adequate therapeutic progress in the patient.


    The psychological and sociotherapeutic treatment of conduct disorder due to the abuse of the Internet, new technologies or mobile phones, are manifested in different contexts, as different as the plurality of the human being, in addition to the environment, his personality, the problems he has and his form to face them.

    That is why psychological guidance is going to be so important in this therapeutic process. The treatments that we carry out from our Addiction Center respond to an individual evaluation, with a personalized program, which aims, through the most effective intervention strategies, the absolute improvement of the patient.


    The use of pharmacology will be decided based on the severity and impact of the problem on the life of the person suffering from this pathology.

    In this sense, perhaps because they are more directly related to biological processes, cognitive distortion, deficit in impulse control, affective instability and the level of anxiety, will be controlled by the doctor in parallel with the psychologist.

    As in other behavioral addictions, internet addiction can be related to high levels of sadness, anxiety or its organic manifestations (uncomfortable palpitations, feeling short of breath, “knot in the stomach”, phases of sweating …).

    Depending on how they interfere with the person and affect their health, drugs aimed at reducing these episodes of intensity and / or impulsivity, mood swings, etc. may be considered useful. In this sense, antidepressant drugs can improve (regardless of whether there is depression or not) impulsivity and episodes of high anxiety.

    The cognitive distortion of the patient is treated pharmacologically with a type of medicine known as “antipsychotic” and aims to reduce anxiety and distorted interpretations that generate the psychological suffering that presents living in a “reality of their own”, generally threatening from which they try to shield themselves with the isolation or taking refuge in solitary activities such as the Internet, online games or the use of mobile phones.

    It is important that the use and prescription of medications is through a psychiatrist who specializes in this type of pathology and whose main objective is to achieve the total improvement of the patient.

    About the Author: Dr. Josep Mª Fàbregas


    Especialista en adicciones y director psiquiatra del centro de adicciones y salud mental Clínicas CITA. Inicié mi carrera profesional en el Hospital Marmottande París, donde trabajé con el Profesor Claude Olievenstein. Posteriormente me trasladé a Nueva York y, tras varios años de experiencia profesional, en 1981 fundé CITA (Centro de Investigación y Tratamiento de las Adicciones) con el objetivo de desarrollar un modelo de comunidad terapéutica profesional, el cual lleva 32 años en funcionamiento.