Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous: A New Approach to Addressing Compulsive Internet Use

Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous: A New Approach to Addressing Compulsive Internet Use


A growing fellowship called Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous (ITAA) is providing tools and support to individuals struggling with compulsive internet use. Based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), ITAA offers a 12-step program that helps participants set healthy boundaries and cope with destructive technology habits.

ITAA was launched in 2017 and has quickly gained thousands of members worldwide, with over 100 online and in-person meetings available in seven different languages. Participants come from diverse locations and share their experiences, offering support to one another in managing their technology usage.

The addiction to internet and technology is not officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but research increasingly shows similarities to other recognized disorders such as alcoholism and gambling addiction. Studies have found structural changes in the brains of individuals with mobile phone dependence and gaming addiction, similar to those seen in substance addiction.

Internet and gaming addictions are considered behavioral disorders, and they activate the brain’s reward center, leading to increased dopamine levels. These addictions share similarities with chemical addictions, including impaired control, physical dependence, and social problems.

ITAA takes a nuanced approach to recovery, allowing each member to determine their own definition of sobriety. While abstinence is a common approach in programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, ITAA focuses on individual boundaries and responsible use. Each member sets their own “bottom lines” and “middle lines” to navigate their internet usage in a way that aligns with their values.

Community support is acknowledged as an integral part of recovery, and ITAA is just one of many programs available. Alternative groups like Smart Recovery, Recovery Dharma, and Celebrate Recovery offer structure, a path toward sustained recovery, and connections with others who have similar struggles.

As addiction treatment evolves, experts recognize the importance of individualized approaches that match the needs of each patient. While abstinence-based programs like AA remain effective for many, the availability of alternative resources provides a more diverse range of options for individuals seeking assistance in overcoming addictive behaviors.

– Source article: “My name is Sarah, and I am an internet and technology addict” Megan Walhood. Published in The Guardian.
– Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
– Studies mentioned in the source article.