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Digital Addiction; Do we all sort of have it? Part 1 - How to tell and what we can do.

This is part one of a three part series of articles discussing digital addiction. Tune in for parts 2 and 3 in the upcoming months.


“I can't stop looking at my phone” “I'm addicted to social media” “I- just -can’t -stop -scrolling”


As an addiction specialist, I understand well that Digital aka Internet or Screen addiction is on the rise and - how could it not be? So many of us are at home and attached to our screens more than ever in the midst of this pandemic.


The American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) describes addiction as “A primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.”


Digital addiction does this in a way that is very similar to gambling and video game addiction. We are a nation increasingly glued to the slot machines that are our cell phones and ipads. We wait for that next jolt of adrenaline to hit us as we get a notification, a friend request, or check in on breaking news. That jolt makes us feel high for a millisecond. And that’s the problem.


Studies show that higher levels of digital time is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and dysfunctional narcissism. Too much screen time has negative effects on our hormones including our cortisol levels and affects our natural sleep cycles. In addition, all of these factors contribute to more disconnection and less satisfaction in our intimate relationships.


It's also true that factors like anxiety, depression and dysfunctional narcissism may lead us into more screen time use in the first place and then take us even further into a toxic cycle of self soothing - just like with other addictions. Just as with other addictions there are things you can do to moderate the source of your problem. Next month, join me as I continue exploring the ways our screens manage us..



 

Lisa Coppola, LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist who brings many years of clinical and community experience to sessions through her work in the field of mental health and dual diagnosis. She strongly believes in the strength and change that comes from getting in deeper touch with our creativity, exploring the authenticity within ourselves, and investigating the narratives that culture may have imposed onto us collectively and as individuals.


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