Internet addiction is becoming a very real social problem, according to a recent study.
The report, issued at the American Psychological Association annual meeting, claimed that nearly six per cent of Internet users are driven by some kind of addiction. The researchers warned that Internet addiction is becoming a bigger problem than that of lottery addiction.
The claims come amid reports that the European Union is drafting guidelines that will enable Internet addicts to receive clinical treatment in the same way as alcholics and drug addicts.
If the policies become a reality it will mean that Internet addicts will be treated as having a serious behavioural disorder and could receive treatment on the UK's National Health System and other European equivalents.
Surfing the Internet for long periods is known to create high levels in the brain of the adrenaline-like chemical dopamine, which gives surfers temporary highs then plummets them into depression if they do not get their surfing fix.
Dr Kimberley Young, a lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh, who has made extensive studies into Internet addiction, said that psychologists are starting to take real note of the condition, following a dramatic increase in divorce and family breakups where Internet use is cited as the cause.
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