Addicted to a New Drug…Electronics

Agitation, restlessness, anxiety, confusion, sleepless nights, lack of motivation, poor productivity, difficulty concentrating, depression, loss of work, failing grades, relationship problems…

“Excuse me!…i got a Text , a tweet, a fb status updates, 10 notifications, an instagram update, an IM’s, 5 new emails, oovoo notifications, gotta make a FaceTime call, watch a YouTube video, check my pinterest, and go on that site (I’d rather not tell you where!), oh! I just received an xbox invite…ah! What did you say? Wait, let me pause my Netflix movie…”

A generation of techies today are becoming increasingly dependent upon their electronic devices. Computers/laptops, iPhones/androids/blackberries, Xbox/play station, and what now has become old fashion, the TV. Modern technology and innovation has invaded our private spaces and has captured the minds of both the young and the old alike.

Brain scan studies show that excessive use of electronic devices can cause the same brain changes that are seen in alcoholics and drug addicts! One study describes 17 men and women who were diagnosed with Internet addiction disorder (IAD) and compared scans of their brains to scans of 16 healthy people who weren’t addicted to the web. Study participants were between the ages of 14 and 21 and lived in China. The researchers found more patterns of “abnormal white matter” on brain scans of Internet addicts, compared with scans of non-addicts. White matter areas in the brain contain nerve fibers that transmit signals to other parts of the brain. These changes showed evidence of disrupting pathways related to emotions, decision-making, and self control.

The researchers said earlier studies have found similar white matter changes in the brain scans of people addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, meth, and ketamine (also known as “Special K”)!

Dr. Henrietta Bowden Jones, consultant psychiatrist at Imperial College in London states: “The majority of people we see with serious Internet addiction are gamers – people who spend long hours in roles in various games that cause them to disregard their obligations,” Jones told The Independent. “I have seen people who stopped attending university lectures, failed their degrees or their marriages broke down because they were unable to emotionally connect with anything outside the game.”

Two psychiatrists in Taiwan have diagnosed a new mental disorder they call IAD – (iPhone Addiction Disorder) giving two case examples of extreme iPhone overuse by individuals.

In one case, a high school adolescent male patient was diagnosed with the condition because he was staring at his iPhone screen 24 hours a day, staying up at night surfing the internet, even causing him to miss school frequently. The adolescent required hospitalization on a psychiatric ward due to the inability to part with his iPhone.

In the other case, a 31 year old female saleswomen was diagnosed after she was unable to focus while driving due to constantly using her iPhone while at stoplights – impairing her ability to drive properly.

iPhone addiction, Internet addiction, gamer addiction is a growing phenomon seen in today’s counseling rooms including the Crossroads Counseling Center. It is affecting marriages, causing depression, causing people to loose their jobs, and students to flunk out of school. It is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

One of the study asked 200 students at Stanford University to describe their relationship to their iPhones.1 Seventy-five percent of the respondents admitted that they slept with their iPhone next to them. Forty-four percent confessed that they were quite addicted to their phones, and 90 percent admitted to some level of addiction. Forty-one percent said that if they lost their iPhone, it would be “a tragedy” (which means an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe). Only 10 percent said they weren’t addicted at all, while seven percent reported that their roommates felt neglected because of the iPhone coming between them. Nine percent said they had “patted” their iPhones, and eight percent believed their iPod was jealous of their iPhone.2 (Now I may be wrong here, but I’d be willing to bet the eight percent were yanking the researchers’ chains on this answer.)

Another study took MRI brain scans of subjects who listened as their iPhones rang. The scans showed activation in the brain region associated with love and compassion. In fact, the subjects reacted to the ringing phones in the same way they would be expected to react to their partners. Additionally, researchers used MRI brain scans of subjects looking at photos of Apple products compared with scans of subjects looking at images of the Pope and other religious icons. Guess what? He found the results “uncannily similar.”

At Crossroads our counselors recognize this issue and provide compassionate care. How does one become free from electronic addiction and gain control of their life? The first step to treatment is admitting that there is a problem. Recognize that addiction exists. Develop a plan of living a life free of dependency from your devices. You have many options:

You may Talk to a friend
You may Talk to a counselor
You may Join a 12 step group

If you would like to meet with a counselor at Crossroads you may contact the center by phone or email. You may meet with a counselor in person or have a therapy session over the phone. if you have a son/daughter, friend or significant other who may be addicted to their electronic devices please forward this blog post to them.






One thought on “Addicted to a New Drug…Electronics

  1. Addictions to Electronic Devices started long before the iPhone, iPad, or, Computers have come out. It started back when video games were first invented, starting with games like Pong and Electronic Table Tennis, which were suppose to be ways in which people could interact with a screen, each other, and have fun. But unfortunately this was the start of the “Electronic Age”, and with it, the loss of human to human interaction. The development of computers and other electronic devices were suppose to make our lives easier and were made to aide us in our daily lives, but have now so completely taken over our daily lives that there is very little need for real human to human contact. We can be connected to someone by way of Airwaves,Bites, and, cables, without ever really being there. It has taken the Human Factor right out of the equation, and that in my opinion, is what has really brought our society to its knees, the loss of real Human contact.

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