Smartphone Addiction: It’s Like Electronic Heroin

By Dr. John Reizer

Most people are well aware of the dangers associated with taking certain street and prescription drugs. We’ve all heard the horror stories about a particular person getting hopelessly addicted to cocaine or heroin. These chemicals as well as many others are, undoubtedly, very dangerous substances.

Although most users begin taking said drugs voluntarily, it doesn’t take long before they have become full blown addicts. Chemical drug dependency is a serious problem that takes many months, and in some cases many years to successfully conquer. Most people are unable to kick a chemical drug habit without the help of a fully trained medical staff.

The human nervous system is wired in such a way that when we take part in pleasurable activities, certain chemicals are released inside the brain that cause us to want to continue the pleasurable experiences. One of those chemicals is called Dopamine.

The neurotransmitter Dopamine allows us to feel very happy and the more the chemical is released inside the brain, the happier we will feel. Pleasurable experiences like eating and having sex cause Dopamine to be released inside the brain. The taking of certain drugs like heroin also causes a lot of Dopamine to be released inside the brain and this in turn causes a very euphoric state that drug users often report experiencing.

With continued drug use, the brain eventually reduces the amount of Dopamine that is released and it becomes more difficult to feel the same level of pleasure that was initially experienced by the user. In order to reach the same level of pleasure, more of the drug is required each time and the cycle goes on and on.

It is easy for most people in today’s world to understand that a chemical modality, like heroin, could cause a person to become hopelessly addicted. But it’s not so easy for members of society to understand that the same mechanisms that are causing people to become drug addicts are also capable of causing people to become addicted to computers and Smartphones.

Electronic addiction is very real and millions of people are becoming electronic addicts even as I write these words. And if you believe that this is all taking place because of some unfortunate accident – think again! The telecommunication corporations are well aware of the fact that their products are habit forming. They know that when you first start off, your data package will be small. But just like a nicotine junkie increases the number of cigarette packs they smoke a day each year, the Smartphone user will also increase the amount of data they require over time.

Smartphone users repeatedly stimulate pathways inside the human brain that cause the release of Dopamine which rewards the user with a pleasurable experience. This scenario recurs over and over again and eventually more electronic stimulation is required to reach the same level of pleasure that was present initially.

In this situation the modality used to trigger the Dopamine release is electronic in nature and not a chemical product. Chemical modality or electronic modality, it doesn’t matter; the same addictive result is accomplished. Smartphone users can become so addicted that they cannot go more than ten minutes at a time without checking text messages, emails, Facebook, Instagram and other social media applications. When a Smartphone user picks up his or her device, it’s similar to a nicotine addict picking up a cigarette and taking a puff.

Are you a Smartphone addict? How many hours do you spend on one of these gadgets? Do you get stressed when you put your phone down? Are you afraid you’re missing something important online? Do you get stressed when your phone battery is getting low?

What do you think about this subject?

One thought on “Smartphone Addiction: It’s Like Electronic Heroin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s