Internet Addiction akin to Drugs/Alcohol ?

It has been reported by the Telegraph that internet addiction is slowly being recognized as being similar to drug/alcohol addiction.

Researchers carried out brain scans of youngsters whom they thought had an 'internet addiction disorder' and they found some pretty disturbing stuff. The brains of internet addicts show damage to the area that carries out the functions of emotional processing, decision making and attention span. The disturbing fact is that similar patterns of damage are found in cocaine and alcohol addicts' brains.

Image courtesy: flickr

It started with the researchers at the University of Worcester who found out that mobile phone users keep hearing 'phantom vibrations' from their cell phones. It is believed that phantom vibrations are heard by the human brain which is desperate to receive more text messages.

Scientists based in China concluded that this study may prove to be instrumental in carving out a treatment plan for this 'disorder' but they also admitted that it isn't clear whether the damage to the brain is the result of internet addiction or the cause of internet addiction. The answer to that question may change the way scientists are looking at this problem.

The research team said in the Public Library of Science One journal, as reported in the Independent, "The findings suggest that white matter integrity may serve as a potential new treatment target in internet addiction disorder."

The consultant psychiatrist Henrietta Bowden Jones at Imperial College, London who also has a clinic (NHS) in Britain said, "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. 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."

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