Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

A Catholic Approach to Internet Addiction

posted by Beyond Blue

breaking free of the web.jpgOkay, let’s say there really IS something out there called Internet addiction. What does one do about it? Recently an old pal, upon seeing that I went from 50 Facebook friends to 500 in only two months (yah!) sent me a book, “Breaking Free of the Web: Catholics and Internet Addiction” by Kimberly Young, Phy.D. and Patrice Klausing, O.S.F. I thought their advice was pretty good, for the most part, except for the confession stuff. Because, I’ve admitted this before, I’m just not real comfortable with that sacrament. I say we label it like Pluto, and bump it out of the solar system, I mean universe of Catholic sacraments. Here are their five steps for Catholics caught in  destructive habits that involve lots of time in front of a computer monitor: 

Step one: Be open.

At some point, the person needs to wake up to his behavior, and realize that time once spent on supervising homework with the kids is now squandered on surfing the net and reviewing the updates of Facebook “friends.” Like any addiction, nothing will get resolved if a person stays in denial. He must admit the problem before recovery takes place.

Step two: Seek professional help.

Writes Young and Klausing: “It isn’t easy to find a therapist familiar with the Internet, online addiction and the impact of online affairs. Over time this will change, but in the meantime, make sure that your therapist is someone willing to listen and learn about the Internet in order to best help you.”

Step three: Practice the twelve steps.

The twelve steps were written for persons recovering from alcoholism, but they work for any addiction. I like to summarize the first three in this simple language: I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let him. Young and Klausing encourage those addicted to the Internet to join a support group of folks who are battling the same behavior. According to them, “this is especially important for Internet addicts who typically suffer from interpersonal difficulties such as introversion, a limited social network and poor social skills.”

Step four: Celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation.

The authors explain how this sacrament can be a powerful and energizing force in changing behavior. By preparing and participating in this sacrament, a person begins the process of “establishing a right relationship with God.”

Step five: Have faith along the journey.

Young and Klausing rightly conclude that “the most challenging aspect of lasting recovery is fighting the temptation to return to the addiction,” which is why it’s so important to remember that God is with you–especially in those moments that fighting the beast of Internet addiction is hardest.

To read more Beyond Blue, go to, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.

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Barbara Bowman

posted January 29, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Funny, I just talked to my counselor about this today. I find myself wasting more and more time online. No self-destructive sites, but places and topics I could live without. It is an escape from less appealing tasks, but also is a distraction from things I used to love to do.
My first step: admitting it to my counselor. What is so insidious about the net, is that most of us have to work on it. I know that I do. In a way it is related to the difficulties of overeating: you have to eat, but you violate boundaries of good sense. Same thing with the net: I have to be on it, but I’m violating boundaries of good sense. So after writing this I’m setting a timer, and am going to stay off for an hour. Meanwhile, I have to find a way to limit my consumption of the empty calories it offers. Just like a diet of Twinkies or Ho-Hos, overdoing the internet is not good for my health.

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posted January 29, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Julian Taber, PH.D is now retired, but for years he treated people with gambling addictions, mostly through VA hospitals, as I recall. He wrote a book, “In the Shadow of Chance”, usually available for around $13 through the State of Nevada gaming people. He has always wanted the 12 steps to be under a universal program and here is his latest writing on that, if anyone is interested.

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posted January 30, 2009 at 10:07 am

Follow up thoughts.
Barbara, great post which I agree with.
Therese, I didn’t mean to veer off on my recommendation of Dr. Taber’s book or program. I would certainly read the Young and Klausing book, for sure. Thanks for the tip. Peg

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posted February 15, 2010 at 10:23 pm

I know a girl who was away from the sacraments and was suicidal. She found out about confession and went there. She came back like a new person crying with joy. She said that she felt a massive weight from her shoulders. She is no longer suicidal and isin fact filled with joy and a great love for the Mass. It is interesting that a lot of the great saints speak warmly of confession and of how it was essential to there journey Heaven-ward.
God bless

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