Webaholics AnonymousAlong with the announcement last week at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Boston that Internet Addiction is now a real problem effecting an estimated six percent of the online population, news immediately broke that a 12-step program had been formed for those who suffer from this dangerous affliction.
Dr. Kimberly S. Young, founder and CEO of the Center for Online Addiction in Bradford, Pennsylvania, told the APA that Addiction to the Internet is a true addiction that can lead to broken marriages, job loss and law suits.
She presented results of studies conducted in the past few years that show that "the addictive use of the Internet directly leads to social isolation, increased depression, familial discord, divorce, academic failure, financial failure, and job loss."
You Too Can Recover!Naturally a self-help, 12-step program sprang up immediately to meet the challenge. In an exclusive interview, About.com Alcoholism Guide BuddyT posed questions to SurferGeek, the self-proclaimed founder of the new program, Webaholics Anonymous Outreach, better know as Wa-Out.
Below is the startling revelations that came out of that interview, presented here with tongue planted firmly in cheek:
Q: What prompted you to start Webaholics Anonymous?
A: When I saw that this study was released to a bunch of shrinks I knew that the Mental Health Industry would be gearing up to make big bucks off of these poor suffering web junkies, and I also saw that their approach would never work.
Q: Why would it not work?
A: Because those who are suffering from the addiction are online. They don't like paying for anything! They believe everything should be downloaded for free! That's what Wa-Out hopes to do, provide them free, downloadable recovery.
Q: How has the program helped you?
A: It saved my life and gave me a new life! I never knew I had a problem. I was in denial. Then one day I was in the electronics department at Wal-Mart. When I wrote a check instead of signing my name, I wrote my email address. I knew I needed help.
Q: What have you been doing since you began to recover from your Internet Addiction?
A: Mostly developing the Wa-Out web site. I have been emailing everyone and posting to newgroups about Wa-Out and teaching myself Java script and PERL so that I can install interactive cgi scripts for user-friendly forms, chat rooms and bulletin boards on the Webaholics web site.
Q: Ah, I see... where exactly do you hold your Wa-Out meetings?
A: Online of course! We will have a 24-hour chat room and an email discussion group. Members will be able to log on at any time of the day or night, click on Get Mail and have a meeting right on their screen!
Q: But isn't that a bit paradoxical? To hold meetings for Internet Addicts online?
A: How else can we carry the message to these hurting people? Internet Junkies aren't watching TV! They are not driving down the road looking at billboards! They don't read newspapers and magazines anymore!
Q: Hmmm... I understand, but wouldn't it be true that if they participated in your online meetings they would by definition be having a recovery slip?
A: Oh, our program is not based on total abstinance. We don't believe in this day and age or in the future it will be possible for anyone to completely stay offline. Our program is based more on moderation... we call it Modem Moderation.
Q: So how do your members help one another recover?
A: By offering love, acceptance and forgiveness and by sharing our own experience, strength, and hope... and of course our ICQ Numbers.
Q: So, you see this as a growing problem?
A: Are you kidding? There are an estimated 85 million people online in the USA alone, so six percent of that number is five million people... and the numbers are growing every day. We predict that we will get millions of hits a day on the Wa-Out web site!!!
Q: Do you call it Wa-Out because you see it as a "way out" or because the participants are "way out" there?
A: Ah... are you being serious or were you making a funny. I can't tell over the phone if that question was followed by a smiley face or not?
Q: It was a grin. Hey, thanks for chatting... er... talking with me.
A: No problem. If you need anymore information, email me!
Is Wa-Out For You?
Are you addicted to the Internet? Here is a test, online of course, developed by SurferGeek that may help you determine if you need help.
12 Steps for Internet Addicts
There is help out there. SurferGeek says these steps have saved his butt.