We are glad you have found our website and are hearing the news that there is hope for addicted internet and technology users. If you are close to an internet and technology addict, you are likely already aware of the difficulty and pain that this condition can cause, not only for the addict themselves, but for those around them as well. Addiction is a serious problem that is harmful to everyone it touches. This page includes important information and resources if you are close to an addict.
Meetings for Family and Friends
IT-Anon is a fellowship of people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s internet and technology addiction. They support each other in bringing positive changes to their individual situations, whether or not the addict admits the existence of a problem or seeks help. If someone you love is suffering from internet and technology addiction and you would like to attend an IT-Anon meeting, they meet twice a week:
6pm US Pacific Time // 8pm US Central Time // 9pm US Eastern Time // 1am GMT // 3am CET
Meeting ID: 231 920 3260
5am US Pacific Time // 7am US Central Time // 8am US Eastern Time // 12pm GMT // 2pm CET
Meeting ID: 231 920 3260
*Note: During the few weeks out of the year when the change to Daylight Savings Time is out of sync, the meetings follow US Eastern Time.
You are also welcome to attend one of the purple meetings on our online meeting calendar. Purple meetings welcome friends and family to attend as observers. This can be a great way to hear the stories of other internet and technology addicts in recovery and understand what your loved one is going through.
What can I do about my loved one’s addiction?
First, no one is responsible for someone else’s compulsive internet and technology use. As the Al-Anon slogan goes, “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.”
You didn’t cause it. Some people partly blame themselves for the dysfunctional behavior of their family members, particularly with addicts who are very quick to shift responsibility off themselves and blame others. Perhaps you shared online past times with your loved one, purchased them a computer or smart phone, or encouraged their online activities, thinking it was a harmless leisure activity. Maybe you’ve been involved in some conflict and wonder if that has driven them to hide away in the internet. But no one is responsible for another person’s behavior or mental disorders.
You can’t control it. You may have already tried to talk to your friend or family member. Perhaps you have bargained with them, or given ultimatums. You have tried to help them see what damage they are doing to themselves and others. And none of it has worked. This is baffling to you. Why don’t they seem to understand or care? Why can’t they see what is obvious to you? This is actually a symptom of the disease of addiction, one that destines efforts for control to failure.
You can’t cure it. We all would like to believe that we have the ability to help those we love. We often think that if we can just get the right information, figure out the right thing to say or do, perhaps change something about ourselves, we can fix the problem. People should be able to solve their problems. Why can’t we do that with this one? There is a simple reason. There is no cure for addiction. It requires treatment. The recovery process is long and difficult. And there is only one person who can start that process: the one who is using the internet and technology compulsively.
There are things you can do. Here are some suggestions that you may want to consider, that other family members and friends have found helpful:
- Get information and support. Find out as much as you can about the disease of internet and technology addiction to familiarize yourself with the illness your loved one is facing. Additionally, the literature and meetings of other recovery fellowships for family and friends of addicts have helpful guidance, some of which is available online as well. There are people who have been in situations very similar to yours, who have learned much from them, and who are willing to share the lessons they’ve learned.
- Share with your loved one. You can share our website with your loved one or suggest they look at our ITAA Welcome Pamphlet (A4) (printing instructions), or our questionnaire on internet and technology addiction to see whether they identify. If they agree that there are unhealthy aspects of their technology use, we encourage them to try attending one of our online meetings. We recommend that newcomers attend six meetings in a short time frame before deciding whether our program may be helpful for them. However, if after mentioning our fellowship to your loved one they do not believe they have a problem or are not interested in getting help, then you can accept their decision without pressuring, manipulating, or shaming them. By providing your loved one with a safe emotional space to discuss their experiences, they may be more willing to open up about it in the future.
- Detach with love. Putting energy into arguing with someone who is using internet and technology compulsively will not help either of you. Your loved one has a serious problem that you are powerless to control or cure, and that they will not get help for until they want it. As much as you love someone, you cannot force this process on another person. Detaching with love means that we fully accept our powerlessness over the neurological condition that drives our loved one’s addictive thinking and acting, while at the same time maintaining genuine love for them and compassion for their struggles.
- Stop enabling. Paradoxically, at the same time people are arguing with, bargaining with or shaming a compulsive internet and technology user, they are often (perhaps without realizing it) supporting the addiction in many ways. Anything that shields an addict from the consequences of their behavior is enabling, and can include such basic things as providing food, shelter, money, companionship, housekeeping, and covering for education, employment and legal difficulties. Helping a compulsive internet and technology user keep up an appearance of normalcy is helping them continue in the destructive behavior. While you cannot change them, you can make changes for yourself. You can shift your energy away from enabling behaviors and toward meeting your own needs.
- Take care of yourself. Whether or not your loved one ever stops using the internet and technology addictively, you deserve to have a healthy and happy life. We have discovered that no situation is really hopeless and that it is possible for us to find contentment, and even happiness, whether the addict is still using or not. Once you have accepted that you are powerless over their internet and technology behavior, you can begin to focus on what you can do to take care of yourself. With the help of others who have been where you are, you can learn to set healthy boundaries and stick to them.
Family disease concept and codependency
Addiction has many times been described as a “family disease,” meaning that the addict is not the only one who suffers the problems of addiction and adopts dysfunctional behavior patterns. The people closest to the active addict suffer many of these effects, although in different ways.
Codependency is an obsession with the needs of others to an unhealthy degree, and often develops in a relationship with someone who has an addiction disorder. Codependent people often cover up problems and shield their loved ones from the consequences of their behavior, becoming extremely attached to controlling and fixing the person and winning their love and approval.
To heal from the destructive effects of a loved one’s internet and technology addiction, we must place a priority on our own basic needs. We encourage the use of literature, fellowships and counseling that guide those affected along a path of growth and healing.
In addition to the IT-Anon meetings, there are other fellowships that may be helpful for family and friends of internet and technology addicts. They can provide clear guidance on dealing with addiction in general, on healing from its effects, and on how to go about building a recovery fellowship.
- Al-Anon. The Al-Anon fellowship has existed since 1939 for the family and friends of alcoholics. As the oldest and most well attended of the fellowships for family and friends of addicts, its members have a wide breadth and depth of experience to share on living with addicts and healing from dysfunctional patterns.
- Nar-Anon. The Nar-Anon fellowship has existed since 1968 for the family and friends of those suffering from addiction.
- CoDA. Co-Dependents Anonymous has existed since 1986 and is a fellowship of men and women whose common purpose is to develop healthy relationships.
- S-Anon. The S-Anon International Family Groups are a worldwide fellowship of the relatives and friends of sexually addicted people.
- COSA. COSA is a Twelve Step recovery program for those whose lives have been affected by compulsive sexual behavior.
Page last updated on December 3, 2023