Digital Detox: Effective Technology Addiction Treatment

Learn more about technology addiction treatment and how J. Flowers Health Institute can help you or your loved one recover.

 

Table of Contents

Art Therapy

Technology Addiction Treatment: Understanding Addiction

Addiction is a complex condition. It involves an intense and difficult-to-control craving for a particular substance or activity. 

 

Addiction is not just about liking something or enjoying an activity. It’s a state where you find it hard to stop, even when the activity causes harm.

Neurobiology of Addiction

Addiction alters the brain’s normal functioning. It affects areas involved in reward, motivation, learning, and memory. When you engage in an activity that you find pleasurable, like using technology, your brain releases dopamine or ‘happy chemicals’.1
This creates feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Over time, with excessive technology use, your brain may start to need more and more of the activity to experience the same level of pleasure. This is known as tolerance.
In addition, your brain can start to see technology use as a need, just like food or water. This is known as dependence. This is why technology addiction treatment is necessary – to help reset the brain’s reward system and break the cycle of dependence.  

Factors Influencing Addiction

Several factors can make you more prone to developing an addiction. The most common are your genetics and environment.2  
Your genes can affect how you respond to certain activities or substances. For example, if your family has a history of addiction, you might be more likely to develop an addiction yourself.
Your environment also plays a part. Factors like peer pressure, stress, and exposure to technology can contribute to the development of technology addiction.  

Types and Categories of Addiction

Below are some common types of addiction.

Substance Addiction

Substance addiction refers to a situation where you repeatedly use a substance, such as drugs or alcohol, despite harmful consequences. One common type of substance addiction is opioid addiction.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, as well as prescription painkillers like:

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Morphine

Opioid addiction is characterized by a powerful, compulsive urge to use opioid drugs, even when they are no longer needed medically.

A Closer Look at Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Behavioral Addiction

Behavioral addiction involves compulsive engagement in behavior like gambling, eating, or using technology.

What is Technology Addiction?

Technology addiction is a type of behavioral addiction where you find it hard to stop using technology, even when it causes negative consequences in your life. This might include compulsive use of:

  • The Internet
  • Smartphones
  • Video games

Recognizing Behavioral Addiction

Technology Addiction: Causes and Symptoms

Below is more information about technology addiction and why someone might need technology addiction treatment.

Causes of Technology Addiction

Technology addiction, like other forms of addiction, doesn’t have a single cause. It’s often a mix of factors that can lead someone to develop this condition. One factor could be the constant availability of technology.

Constant Access to Technology

With smartphones, tablets, and computers, you have access to the internet and its endless stream of information and entertainment all the time. This constant access can make it easy for you to form a habit of checking your devices often.

Using Technology as an Escape

Another factor could be using technology as a way to escape from stress or problems in one’s life. You might find yourself turning to your devices when you’re feeling sad, anxious, or bored.

Over time, this can lead to a dependence on technology to cope with negative feelings. This dependence can turn into an addiction.

Common Symptoms

Technology addiction can show up in many ways. These include:

  • Spending More Time on Technology Than Intended: You might find that you’re spending more and more time on your devices, often at the expense of other activities.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: If your use of technology is getting in the way of work, school, or other responsibilities, this might be a sign of technology addiction.
  • Feeling Restless or Anxious When Not Using Technology: If you feel uncomfortable or anxious when you can’t use your devices, this could be a sign of withdrawal, which is a common symptom of addiction.
  • Unsuccessful Attempts to Cut Down: You might have tried to reduce your use of technology but found it difficult to do so. This is another common symptom of addiction.

These are just some of the potential signs of technology addiction. If these symptoms sound familiar, it might be worth considering technology addiction treatment. 

 

Such treatment can help you learn to manage your use of technology in a healthier way and reduce the negative impact it has on your life.

Expert Opinion on Internet Addiction

Side Effects and Risk Factors

Below are possible side effects and risk factors of technology addiction. These might warrant technology addiction treatment.

Physical Effects

Technology addiction can have several effects on your physical and mental health. On the physical side, excessive screen time can lead to a range of issues.

You might experience eye strain or headaches from staring at a screen for too long. Sitting for extended periods while using technology can also lead to problems like back pain and an increased risk of obesity.

Mental Effects

The mental health effects of technology addiction can be just as serious. Overuse of technology can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression

 

It can also interfere with your sleep, which can have wide-ranging effects on your mood, energy levels, and overall health.3

Social Effects

Technology addiction can impact your social health. If you’re spending a lot of time on your devices, you might be neglecting face-to-face interactions with friends and family. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Risk Factors for Technology Addiction

Some people might be more likely than others to develop technology addiction. Several factors can increase your risk. 

Personality Traits

People who are high in neuroticism (characterized by negative emotions like anxiety and depression) and low in conscientiousness (characterized by organization and discipline) may be more prone to technology addiction.4

Age

Young people, especially teenagers, spend a lot of time online. Because of this, they’re more susceptible to developing a technology addiction.

Mental Health Conditions

People with conditions like depression, anxiety, or ADHD may be more likely to become dependent on technology.

Social Factors

If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, you might turn to technology as a way to connect with others or escape from your feelings.

If any of these risk factors apply to you, it might be beneficial to seek technology addiction treatment. Such treatment can help you understand why you’ve become dependent on technology and provide strategies to help you manage your use.

Prevalence and Commonality

In the U.S., the prevalence rates of technology addiction have shown an alarming and growing trend. According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans report going online daily, with 31% admitting that they are online “almost constantly.”5

On average, American adults spend 11 hours a day on digital media.6 As such, almost one in three Americans are considered to be “high tech users.” This means they meet the criteria for possible internet addiction.7

The Depth of Tech Addiction

To understand the depth of this addiction, consider that the average American checks their phone 96 times a day. On average, 40% of internet users spend their waking hours online.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased screen time. 57% of American users admitted that their screen time increased by more than an hour during lockdown periods. Furthermore, 71% of users sleep with their mobile phones beside them​.

Intruding on Everyday Life

Technology use has intruded into many aspects of life, often to the detriment of social and personal activities. 

For example, one in three mobile phone users would rather give up sex than their phones. About 33% of adult users use their phones while on romantic dates, and 12% feel like their phones get in the way of their romantic relationship.8

Assessment and Diagnosis for Technology Addiction Treatment

The assessment and diagnosis criteria for technology addiction treatment will be detailed below.

Recognizing Problematic Use

The first part of any technology addiction treatment is understanding that there might be a problem. You might be dealing with a technology addiction if you find yourself constantly thinking about your devices or the internet.
You might also feel the urge to be online even when it’s not necessary or if you have difficulty controlling your own usage. If your use of technology is interfering with other important activities, such as work or relationships, it’s time to get help.  

Diagnostic Tools

Diagnostic tools are used to determine whether someone needs technology addiction treatment. These tools can include questionnaires and surveys. They ask about your feelings and behaviors related to technology use.9

These are not tests that you pass or fail. Instead, they help healthcare providers understand if technology is causing problems in your life. 

If your answers suggest that your technology use is creating problems, it might be a signal that technology addiction treatment could be beneficial for you.

Self-Reporting and Clinical Observation

Another method of assessing technology addiction involves self-reporting and clinical observation. In self-reporting, you share your habits and behaviors associated with technology use.
You might talk about:  
  • How often you use technology
  • Which devices or platforms you use most
  • How you feel when you’re not able to use technology
 
This can give your healthcare provider a clear picture of your situation.  

Clinical Observation

Clinical observation can provide a more objective assessment. Here, healthcare providers might monitor how you interact with technology during your sessions or ask you to log your technology use at home.  

Differential Diagnosis

The final step in the assessment and diagnosis phase of technology addiction treatment involves differential diagnosis. This is where healthcare providers ensure that your symptoms aren’t being caused by another underlying condition.

For example, frequent technology use might also be a symptom of conditions like depression, social anxiety, or ADHD. By considering these possibilities, healthcare providers can make sure you get the most appropriate treatment for your needs.

Technology Addiction Treatment: Benefits of Digital Detox

Below are the benefits of digital detox and technology addiction treatment. 

Improved Sleep

Studies have shown that excessive screen time, particularly before bedtime, can interfere with sleep. This is because the blue light emitted from screens can disrupt your body’s natural sleep rhythms.10

By reducing screen time, especially in the evening, you might find that you fall asleep quicker and have a more restful sleep.

Better Cognitive Function

Our brains are not designed to be in a constant state of alert, bombarded with information from various digital sources. This continuous stream of data can lead to cognitive fatigue. 

This can affect our ability to:

  • Concentrate
  • Make decisions
  • Think creatively
A digital detox allows the brain to rest, recharge, and refocus. Studies have shown that taking regular breaks from technology can help enhance memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills.11

Strengthened Real-world Relationships

When we’re consumed by digital devices, our interactions with those around us can become shallow and distracted. By stepping away from screens, we can engage more fully with others. This leads to more meaningful and satisfying relationships.
An important aspect of a digital detox is taking some time to connect with ourselves and others without the use of technology.   
This could include:  
  • Spending quality time with friends or family
  • Engaging in hobbies such as reading or painting
  • Being present in the moment

 

Increased Productivity

Increased productivity is a common outcome of technology addiction treatment. Without the distraction of social media, games, or endless scrolling, you can focus more on the tasks at hand.
This could mean getting more work done at your job, finishing tasks at home, or even finding time for hobbies you enjoy. Research shows you could gain up to two hours of productivity every day just by taking a break from your devices.12

Strategies for Successful Technology Addiction Treatment

Below are some strategies for making technology addiction treatment successful.

Creating a Digital Detox Plan

Your journey toward technology addiction treatment begins with creating a digital detox plan. This plan should outline when, where, and how you’ll reduce your technology use. 

For example, you could start by setting aside a couple of hours each day without devices.

Setting Realistic Goals

When it comes to technology addiction treatment, setting realistic goals is key. You don’t have to eliminate all screen time right away. You could aim to reduce your daily screen time by an hour or two to start.

Establishing Support Systems

Having friends, family, or professional support can make technology addiction treatment more effective. These support systems can provide encouragement and help hold you accountable during your digital detox.

Identifying Triggers and Avoiding Them

You can make progress in technology addiction treatment by identifying your triggers for excessive technology use and avoiding them. A trigger could be:

  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Certain times of the day

Practicing Mindfulness and Self-Reflection

Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your current thoughts and feelings. It can help to identify when you’re reaching for technology out of habit or compulsion. 

 

Practicing mindfulness and self-reflection can also help build healthier psychological habits that don’t involve technology use.

Engaging in Physical Exercise and Outdoor Activities

Physical exercise and outdoor activities are effective replacements for screen time. These activities can distract you from the urge to use technology and provide health benefits.

Seeking Alternative Hobbies

Seeking alternative hobbies and interests can help to keep your mind occupied in a more productive and enjoyable way. 

Examples include:

  • Playing an instrument
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Doing volunteer work

Setting Technology-Free Zones and Times

Designating technology-free zones and times at home can make your technology addiction treatment more structured. 

 

For instance, you could declare your bedroom a device-free zone or establish dinner time as a screen-free period.

Utilizing Digital Detox Apps and Tools

There are several apps and tools that can assist in your digital detox. These tools can:

  • Block distracting websites or apps
  • Track your screen time
  • Provide reminders to take breaks from screens

Determining Healthy Digital Leisure Time

Healthy digital leisure time is part of an effective technology addiction treatment. 

 

While no universal guidelines fit everyone, a reasonable starting point is to aim for less than two hours of recreational screen time per day. This excludes time spent on work or education.

Balancing Screen Time and Other Activities

Striking a balance between screen time and other activities can make your technology addiction treatment more successful. 

Alternate periods of using technology with activities that don’t involve screens. This way, you’re not removing digital devices entirely but learning to manage their use in a healthy way.

A Healthier Digital Lifestyle

Setting boundaries and time limits for screen time can lead to a healthier digital lifestyle. You could decide on a specific number of hours for screen time each day or set certain times when technology use is allowed. 

 

These boundaries can help ensure digital devices don’t consume all of your leisure time.

Maximizing Technology Addiction Treatment Benefits

For technology addiction treatment to work best, you need to actively engage in the process. Think of it as teaming up with your healthcare professionals.
You are not just a patient, but an integral part of the treatment team. This is not a passive process where you simply receive care; instead, you take part in decisions, engage in therapy sessions, and take steps toward recovery.

What It Means to be an Active Participant

Being an active participant means openly discussing:

  • Your experiences with technology use
  • Any struggles you face
  • The goals you want to achieve

This information helps your team tailor the treatment to meet your specific needs.

Building a Therapeutic Relationship

In technology addiction treatment, just like in other forms of therapy, your relationship with your healthcare provider plays a significant role. This relationship, often referred to as the therapeutic alliance, can enhance the effectiveness of the treatment process.

The therapeutic relationship is built on trust, respect, and understanding. It’s like a safe harbor where you can express your thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. It’s a space where you are heard and where your experiences are validated.

This kind of relationship encourages open communication, which is key in addressing the challenges you face in your journey toward overcoming technology addiction.

Benefits of a Healthy Therapeutic Relationship

A solid therapeutic relationship also fosters motivation and adherence to treatment. When you feel understood and supported by your healthcare provider, you’re more likely to stay engaged in the treatment process and follow through on therapeutic tasks and recommendations.

Utilizing Additional Supportive Resources

Technology addiction treatment doesn’t stop at individual therapy or counseling sessions. There are many other resources you can tap into to help enhance your recovery.

These can range from self-help books and educational materials about technology addiction, to support groups where you can connect with others who are facing similar challenges.

 

Support Groups

Support groups, in particular, can be a valuable resource. They provide a platform where you can share your experiences, learn from others, and receive encouragement and support. 

It’s like being part of a team where everyone is working towards the same goal – overcoming technology addiction.

Educational Materials

Educational materials and self-help books can equip you with knowledge and strategies to manage your technology use. They can serve as a guide, providing practical tips and insights to help you navigate your recovery journey.

Technology Addiction Treatment at J. Flowers Health

J. Flowers Health Institute, led by Dr. James S. Flowers, stands as a beacon for those seeking technology addiction treatment. The institute is nestled within the heart of the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. We have expanded to help European clients in London as well.

At J. Flowers Health Institute, a wide range of services is available for those struggling with technology addiction. These services include comprehensive diagnostic evaluations and wellness programs that target not just addiction, but also mental health, substance use, lifestyle, and chronic pain.

 

Focusing on Individualized Treatment

The J. Flowers Health Institute curates programs to fit the unique circumstances of each client. This includes:

  • Patients seeking a clear diagnosis
  • Those facing complex mental health or addiction disorders
  • Individuals preferring a one-on-one approach to treatment

The J. Flowers Approach to Technology Addiction Treatment

The J. Flowers Health Institute takes a unique approach when it comes to technology addiction treatment. 

We start by conducting a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation to fully understand the extent and nature of the addiction. This includes an in-depth analysis of the client’s lifestyle, mental and physical health, and any other factors that may contribute to the addiction.

Once a clear diagnosis is made, a personalized treatment plan is designed. This plan includes medical, psychiatric, and therapeutic strategies catered to the person’s needs. The goal is to help the client regain control over their technology use and return to a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

 

Long-Term Care and Support

One of the standout features of J. Flowers Health Institute is our commitment to long-term care and support. Our Bespoke Continuing Care Program is designed to provide ongoing support to clients after they’ve completed their initial technology addiction treatment.

 

 

This program offers virtual one-on-one visits and continued coordinated care with local providers. This way, clients are able to transition smoothly to independent living while still receiving the necessary support from the J. Flowers team.

This level of ongoing care ensures that the gains made during the treatment process are maintained in the long run, helping clients to successfully navigate their journey towards recovery and wellness. Reach out to learn more today.