Treatment outcomes using CBT-IA with Internet-addicted patients

J Behav Addict. 2013 Dec;2(4):209-15. doi: 10.1556/JBA.2.2013.4.3. Epub 2013 Dec 13.

Abstract

Background and aims: Internet Gaming Disorder, a subtype of Internet Addiction, is now classified in Section 3 of the DSM-5. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been suggested in treating Internet addiction as this modality has been shown to be an effective treatment for similar impulse control disorders. Given the daily and necessary use of the Internet and technology in general compared to other compulsive syndromes, a specialized form of CBT has been developed called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Internet Addiction (CBT-IA). CBT-IA is a comprehensive three phase approach that includes behavior modification to control compulsive Internet use, cognitive restructuring to identify, challenge, and modify cognitive distortions that lead to addictive use, and harm reduction techniques to address and treat co-morbid issues associated with the disorder.

Methods: As the first model of its kind, this study examines 128 clients to measure treatment outcomes using CBT-IA. Clients were evaluated using the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) to classify subjects and were administered twelve weekly sessions of CBT-IA. Treatment outcomes were measured at the end of the twelve weeks, one-month, three months and at six month post-treatment.

Results: RESULTS showed that over 95% of clients were able to manage symptoms at the end of the twelve weeks and 78% sustained recovery six months following treatment.

Discussion and conclusions: RESULTS found that CBT-IA was effective at ameliorating symptoms associated with Internet addiction after twelve weekly sessions and consistently over one-month, three months, and six months after therapy. Further research implications such as investigating long-term outcome effects of the model with larger client populations and treatment differences among the subtypes of Internet addiction or with other cultural populations using CBT-IA are discussed.

Keywords: Internet addiction; Internet use disorder; cognitive-behavior therapy; treatment outcomes.

Grant support

Funding sources: The author report no financial or other relationship relevant to the subject of this article.