There’s no denying that the continued advancement of technology in the digital era has transformed our lives in dramatic ways. But often, it affects us in avenues that are hard to identify. A big example of this is addiction, and while technology has paved the way for new addictive outlets and new addictions altogether, it has also introduced new avenues for help. It’s a good idea to have both on your radar.
The Advent of Internet Addiction
Before the Internet, there was no such thing as digital addiction. To be fair, experts still disagree over whether Internet use can be officially classified as an addiction since it’s not a substance that enters the body. However, using the Internet does have an effect on the pleasure-seeking parts of the brain, and spending excessive amounts of time using the Internet can interfere with one’s life in a negative way, with studies showing that so-called Internet addicts are more prone to depression than the general public. Accidents involving drivers or pedestrians who are distracted by smartphones and other devices are on the rise as well.
There has been scientific peculation over whether or not modern children are developing proper communication and social skills if they are given digital devices at a young age. This suggests that the long-term consequences of Internet usage and the validity of digital addiction are still to be seen.
While the Internet and social media have helped give us access to a near-infinite amount of information and entertainment, there is some evidence suggesting that it makes people more susceptible to addiction, particularly young people. According to a survey by the Center on Addiction, teens who spent time on social media sites every day were five times more likely to use tobacco, three times more likely to use alcohol, and twice as likely to use marijuana.
Obviously, there is a fine line between using these substances and becoming addicted to them, but use of a substance at a young age has been linked to an increased risk of addiction. If Internet and social media use indirectly encourage the use of illicit substances by teenagers, it could be, intuitively speaking, contributing to people developing addictions later in life.
Access to Addictive Substances
The digital age has also given people better access to addictive substances, both legal and illegal. The Internet has made it easier for people to get prescription drugs from online pharmacies, which are not as well-regulated as neighborhood pharmacies or large chains. Often times, these pharmacy websites are part of the black market and selling drugs that may not be exactly as advertised. The digital black market, known colloquially as the Dark Web, has become a viable marketplace for illicit drugs, creating easier access to addictive substances, for suppliers, dealers, and users alike.
New Help for People with Addictions
On the bright side, the digital age has also helped create more options for people to fight addiction. A large number of legitimate websites provide high-quality information on helping those battling addiction, as well as sites that can help people find a suitable rehab centre for addicts. There are also countless apps that provide support for recovering addicts, not to mention online support groups and chat services that help an addict receive the help they need without the fear of being embarrassed or judged by others, which could make some more likely to seek help.