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WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 01, 2010, 03:05 PM

Former ND Trooper found innocent of domestic abuse; plans to get counseling for internet addiction

This whole issue of internet addiction and the need to go on-line and play games is becoming a big concern among those who treat addictions. In the old days, it was only alcohol, then it was drugs, gambling; now the internet. How is it that games like "Mafia Wars” on Facebook can lure and lock someone's time away from family and work?

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Moorhead, Minn. (WDAY TV) - A former North Dakota State Patrol Trooper has been found innocent of domestic abuse after an emotional trial in Clay County. Michael Polomny of Moorhead walked out of the courthouse this afternoon along with his wife and daughter. They cried and hugged each other after the verdict.

The father of six was accused of punching and kicking his wife while she held their baby after an argument broke out about his excessive time spent playing computer games. A jury this afternoon found Polomny innocent of all three abuse charges.

His wife testified her husband was playing the Facebook game "Mafia Wars" eight to ten hours a day, using three computers to do so. On the stand she said her husband pushed and swore at her, but she could not recall being punched. Polomny refused comment after the verdict, but his attorney says his client is getting help.

“The evidence is at the trial testimony. They have been in counseling and they are going to work together on this the family was together and helping the Polomnys into married life.”

The Judge told Polomny to get help for the addiction. Polomny plans to appeal his firing from the North Dakota State Patrol.

This whole issue of internet addiction and the need to go on-line and play games is becoming a big concern among those who treat addictions. In the old days, it was only alcohol, then it was drugs, gambling; now the internet. How is it that games like "Mafia Wars” on Facebook can lure and lock someone's time away from family and work? How is it that our little brain that sits on top of our shoulders can have such a powerful pull on how we make life changing decisions?

Jeremy Ness can maneuver his way around Facebook's Mafia Was, an on-line game that sounds more like a nasty night on the wrong side of the tracks. Jeremy knows how time can tick by while playing games like Mafia Wars and an on-line application called "4-squares," a cell phone/GPS based program where you know where your friends are at all times.

“Four squares, I check it all day long. Can see who is eating here.”

And so what happens in our brain that we can become so addicted to something like Facebook's Mafia Wars. Well experts will tell us we develop pleasure in our brain from taking part in activity and we demand more.

“It is a matter of firing off on that reward pathway and going back to that behavior is getting endorphins and feel good chemicals to you go back to that behavior that reinforces that.”

That reward and pleasure are so great that it is hard for those with an addiction to the internet, whether it's an online game or porn, that the brain demands to not only see more, but to take more risks to find and reach that pleasure.

Lost and Found Ministry in Moorhead has seen a dramatic increase in the number of clients coming in with on-addictions from pornography to gambling.

The 20-year old Trinity Lutheran Church program specializes in interventions, and providing a state of the art resource and library for those people and their families who are battling addiction. From the young college student to grandparents, Lost and Found is witnessing more people coming in for help.

“Internet addiction is big. It doesn't compare to alcohol, but in combination to gambling too.”

Counselors at Prairie St. John's say this kind of addiction comes after the "pleasure center" of our brain reacts to a certain behavior and demands more to get that satisfaction.

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