The THRIVE Center™ For ADHD & Comprehensive Mental Health Care Of Central Maryland


Screen Addiction Program

A collaborative effort of Integrative Counseling and The Thrive Center


Connor is 18 and lonely. College was a bust: it's hard to do well sitting in your dorm room playing video games all day. Now he's living at his parents' house, up all night, hanging out with on-line friends – and driving his parents crazy. 

Geoff is 37, a successful lawyer – and in trouble at work from his screen addiction. He got caught spending several hours on-line every day. At home, it's the same story -- in his den with the door closed, racking up hour after hour of on-line play. But the addiction is taking its toll: his kids miss him, and his wife is tired of going to bed alone.

What Are Screen Addictions?

As our world becomes more technology driven, some people find themselves struggling with how much they use technology -- and use screens in an “addictive” way.

For some people with issues such as ADHD, ASD, depression or social anxiety, the screen addiction might be a form of self-medication – a distraction from or numbing of intolerable feelings.

Whether or not you have any of these underlying conditions, excessive screen use can still become addictive – and can lead to problems with school, work and relationships.  For kids, teens and young adults, addiction can cause delays in the development of critical emotional and life skills – delays that can only be made up once the addiction ends.

With a screen addiction, your brain is rewired to receive more pleasure from screen activities than “real life” activities. As a result, you might avoid your responsibilities, or spend excessive time with on-line gambling, pornography, sex, video or chat.

How do you recover from a screen addiction?

If you recognize the signs of screen addiction in yourself or a loved one, get help.  Some people are able to change these addictive patterns on their own.   But for those deep into their addiction, getting the brain and behaviors back on track requires professional assistance.  Most addicts heal more rapidly and in a more sustained way when in a supportive treatment setting.

How can we help?

The Thrive Center, in conjunction with Integrative Counseling, is pleased to offer The Screen Addictions Program for adults (18+ years) struggling with the unhealthy use of technology.

This program consists of an initial 1 Month Detox/ Abstinence Program that runs in conjunction with an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), exclusively created to address screen addictions.

The Intensive Outpatient Program

The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) -- provided at Integrative Counseling -- includes treatment and education groups, running 3 hours daily for 3 days a week. Groups focus on topics such as:

  • How your addiction developed
  • Recognizing and changing triggers
  • Finding healthy, substitute activities
  • Mindfulness and mindful use of the internet
  • Distress tolerance
  • Relapse prevention
  • The importance of connecting with yourself and with others

In addition, we offer a weekly family group, as well as access to family and couple’s therapy.

Screen Addictions are a form of process addiction. People with a process addiction have brains altered (or addicted) in the same way a person gets addicted to drugs or alcohol:  there is a physical change in the brain’s structure and functioning that makes it hard for people to stop their addictive behavior without help. 

When your brain is "hijacked" by the addiction, you cannot act upon your commitments -- despite sometimes harsh, real world consequences. While this is frustrating for spouses, parents and bosses, it is most frustrating for the addict.  Often, this frustration is "treated" by going back to the one thing that makes them feel good – the addiction itself. 

We understand that this process of recovering from the addiction can be long and difficult at times. Our program is committed to helping family members and important support people understand this journey, while helping the technology addicted person make changes to overcome their addiction.

The 1 Month Detox / Abstinence Program

The 1 Month Detox/ Abstinence Program is offered in conjunction with the IOP.

Weunderstand that in our current lives, the use of technology is often essential. In chemical addictions, like alcohol or heroin, we encourage abstinence from all drugs for life – achieved one day at a time.

Although life-long abstinence from technology may not be possible, the brain – which has been seriously altered by the addiction -- needs an initial period of abstinence from technology to recover. This initial detox period is not unlike putting a broken leg in a cast and using crutches to let the leg heal.

The Detox Program is designed to provide a sufficiently long break from electronics that the brain can begin to reset itself – and once again experience rewards from normal, healthy activities.

For young adults 18-33 years old, the detox services are delivered at The Thrive Center.  For older adults, Integrative Counseling will design a program to fit their particular work schedule.  

The Thrive Center Detox for young adults -- Since it has been said that “The opposite of addictions is connection,” group activities for young adults are designed to encourage a reconnection with self and with others.  To that end, The Thrive Center offers multiple groups focusing on:

  • Life Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Emotional self-regulation – through mixed martial arts, meditation and yoga
  • Exercise
  • Art Therapy
  • Writing Workshop
  • Volunteer Group and Job Skills

For working adults, the abstinence program will be adjusted as best as possible to take into account work and school needs while providing a maximum amount of screen-free time.

Our experience can produce results

Both the Thrive Center and Integrative Counseling have many years’ experience treating addictions and mental health issues.  Our success in helping patients in our other programs makes us confident that we can help your family member make significant steps towards overcoming their addiction to technology.

And for those struggling with other mental health or substance use concerns, we can go a step further:  treating the underlying conditions that drive the screen addiction.  Managing these other issues makes it more likely that the person will be successful in maintaining their recovery -- so there is less reason to return to unhealthy behaviors.  

As part of our initial evaluation, we will discuss with you the possible value of medication management or psychotherapy and offer treatment recommendations that support the work in the screen addictions program.

How to get started

Call Integrative Counseling at 410-740-8067 and schedule an appointment with Rod Wright, LGPC or Mark Donovan, LCPC, LCADC.  At this appointment, we can determine if this program is right for you and discuss in more depth how the program works. 

Integrative Counseling will schedule you or your family member for both the Intensive Outpatient Program and the 1 Month Detox.

Both the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) (at Integrative Counseling for all adults) and the 1 Month Detox (at Thrive for young adults; at Integrative for older adults) are located in Columbia, MD.

Insurance Coverage

Unfortunately, this program is not covered by insurance. Despite the very serious problems screen addictions can cause, this addiction is not yet recognized as a medical condition. Since it is not yet a “diagnosable condition”, insurance companies will not cover any services delivered as part of The Screen Addictions Program – neither in network nor out of network.