Internet Addicts Like Other Addicts

Genetic factors may figure into problematic Internet habits

(RxWiki News) Does being away from the Internet feel wrong? Are thoughts of being on the Internet constant? Internet addiction is the real deal.

A recent study looked at Internet usage habits and a nicotine addiction gene in a group of people. Results found that people with problematic Internet habits also had the nicotine addiction gene.

"Talk to a therapist if you feel addicted."

Christian Montag, PhD, from the Department of Differential and Biological Psychology at the University of Bonn in Germany, led investigations into Internet addictions.

For the study, 843 people were tested for possible Internet addiction.

Blood samples for genetic comparisons were also taken. The participants all took the Internet Addiction Test.

A total of 132 scored greater than 39 points and were considered to have signs of Internet addiction. Only two people in the study had scores greater than 69 points.

Blood samples were tested for the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit alpha 4(CHRNA4) gene, which has been linked to anxiety and addiction in other studies.

It’s not the Internet itself people are addicted to, but rather specific sites or activities like social media, gaming and pornography.

A problematic relationship with the Internet resulted in a person’s thoughts revolving around using the Internet all day and feeling mental or emotional withdrawal symptoms when separated from the Internet.

This could also result in a lower quality of life and inability to find satisfaction in normal activities, relationships and interactions.

Dr. Montag suggested that in order to properly treat people with an Internet addiction, it’s important to fully understand it from a ‘neuro-scientific angle’.

This study sets the groundwork for further studies into the physiological components of Internet addiction and how to approach treating it.

This study will be published in September in the Journal of Addictive Medicine. No financial information was given. No conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
September 10, 2012