Look, we all have our vices. Going through life straight all the time would drive the strongest human insane. Sometimes you need a beer or chocolate chip cookie at the end of long, hard day. Or maybe you need to binge some mindless Netflix show to avoid reality for a few hours.
But one man in India is being treated in the Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) clinic in Bangalore as the first “Netflix addict” because he couldn’t control his vices. According to The Hindu, the 26-year-old man was binge-watching more than seven hours of Netflix movies and TV a day to escape the pressures and stress he felt being unemployed. The first thing he did upon waking in the morning was turn on the TV, and, well, things went downhill from there.
“Whenever his family pressurised him to earn a living, or when he saw his friends doing well, he would watch the shows on offer continuously. It was a method of escapism. He could forget about his problems, and he derived immense pleasure from it,” said Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma, who heads the SHUT clinic.
The man previously escaped through gaming before turning to Netflix. His binge habits led to “eye strain, fatigue, and disturbed sleeping patterns,” writes The Hindu. To treat his addictions, doctors are giving him “therapy, prescribing relaxation exercises, and guiding him in his career.” According to The Print, the young man is also conducting five-minute deep-breathing exercises every hour to help lower his stress levels.
He’s also being given career counseling and traditional psychological counseling at the clinic to help keep his stress levels low as he moves back toward a normal life. Dr. Sharma said that the best way to avoid ending up in a situation like the young man’s is to be aware of when you’re using technology in an unhealthy manner.
While the World Health Organization declared gaming addiction a mental health disorder earlier this year, no such pronouncement has been made regarding streaming shows. However, scientists believe they share many similar characteristic in recognizing the addictive behavior and how to combat it.
“The best advice is to avoid the use of technology if it becomes a coping mechanism,” Dr. Sharma said.
On an earnings calls last year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings commented on the addicting behavior induced by the streaming platform. He didn’t exactly condemn it, though.
“You know, think about it, when you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night,” Hastings said. “You really—we’re competing with sleep, on the margin.”