Health & Spirit

Kicking internet addiction

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

On a 1996 episode of "Roseanne," David finds Jackie on the computer: "I've been playing around with it a little...," she said.

"Jackie, aren't those the same clothes you had on yesterday?"

"I don't know, maybe ... what's your point?" she responds.

"Oh my God, you haven't left this thing," David exclaims. "You're addicted to the internet!"

"No, I'm not," she protests.

"Yes, you are! I've seen this before," he says. "I lost two of my friends to this!"

Two decades later, studies confirm that punchline: Brain scans show that for someone with an internet addiction, being online activates the brain's reward center just like an abused drug does.

Signs of IA

--Preferring being online to spending offline time with others

--Feeling empty without internet access

--Losing sleep because you're online

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--Getting defensive if others say you spend too much time online.

The results of addiction? Just like drug addictions, IA diminishes one's physical activity, causes a lack of face-to-face time with family and friends (and the world in general), and contributes to everything from obesity and lower self-esteem to problems at work, school and with friends.

How to get unhooked? One study found that when problematic internet users had internet access cut off, their withdrawal symptoms included increased anxiety, depression, heart rate and blood pressure. That's why to disconnect you may need:

--A healthy habit substitute: The best is regularly-scheduled physical activity.

--Enforce a family internet schedule and whole-house internet vacations so you spend time together talking, adventuring, or cooking.

--Help from cognitive behavioral therapy.


Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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