India Sees New Rehab Facility: For Curing Social Media Addiction

9 Jun

India has seen a new addiction treatment center, one founded by Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma, a Best Outpatient Rehab facilityaimed at helping people deal with a different kind of addiction; internet addiction.

According to Dr. Sharma, an associate professor of clinical psychology, the facility, located in Bengaluru’s Nimhans Psychiatric Hospital, barely saw any patients come in every week back when it was founded four years ago, but now, it sees around six patients checking in daily. The facility, dubbed SHUT (Services for Healthy Use of Technology) Clinic, offers 21-day program to wean Indians from their gadgets. Sharma says that the development of the facility and its growing popularity is not a good thing, but an indicator of how tied Indians are to their devices, and that some of them are taking notice and seeking out help.

According to the facility’s records, a lot of the “internet addicts” are young adults aged 16-20, who tend to be kids with parents that can get them gaming consoles and/or smartphones. He adds that there are a lot of possible causes for addiction; lack of playgrounds, being a single child with both parents working, or simply not being exposed to their peers.

Sharma detailed one patient, who took over 500 selfies a day, a clear symptom of social anxiety. According to him, looking good on social media has become a key aspect of being popular, which can lead to anxiety and obsessive behavior.

The team in the facility use the four Cs – craving, control, compulsion and consequences. Following the diagnosis, is the treatment. Sharma says that the internet is such a key part of our lives now that asking them to avoid it outright is simply impractical. The treatment, he says, usually takes about 21 days. If the patient is a young adult, the parents are brought it.

Sharma says that listening to what the parents and the patients say is a key part of the treatment because, to a large extent, addictive behavior tends to be a symptom of another problem. Most, the staff says, tend to go through the Best Outpatient Rehab process, though some do end up having to be admitted.

The clinic has already treated at least 250 people over the past four years. According to Sharma, the one common thing that they see is how the internet fills a void in the patients’ lives.