“It’s not a choice, it’s an actual disorder and a disease,” Danny said. REUTERS/Maddie McGarvey
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When Danny Reagan was 13, he began exhibiting signs of what doctors usually associate with drug addiction.Psychiatrists say internet addiction, characterized by a loss of control over internet use and disregard for the consequences of it, affects up to 8 percent of Americans and is becoming more common around the world.Danny was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at age 5 and anxiety disorder at 6, and doctors said he developed an internet addiction to cope with those disorders.Chris Tuell, clinical director of addiction services, started the program in December after seeing several cases, including Danny's, where young people were using the internet to "self-medicate" instead of drugs and alcohol.IS IT A REAL DISORDER?Medical experts have been taking internet addiction more seriously.Neither the World Health Organization nor the American Psychiatric Association recognize internet addiction as a disorder.Research on internet addiction may soon produce empirical results to meet medical classification standards, Tuell said, as psychologists have found evidence of a brain adaptation in teens who compulsively play games and use the internet.
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