Can Internet Addiction Lead To Drug Use?

According to a new study conducted by the Journal of Addiction Medicine, internet addiction can be a warning sign of substance abuse in young people. The countless hours spent surfing, chatting, posting, uploading and tweeting can also lead to negative personality traits including recklessness, impulsiveness, and aggression. It is important for parents to keep an eye on the amount of time that their kids spend online. However, it can be difficult to determine if a young person is simply fixated on technology, or is exhibiting pathological behavior.

Mental Disorder?

Internet addiction is not currently recognized as a mental disorder the way that gambling or drug addiction are. However, it could soon be. Currently, people are ascribing the same attributes to those addicted to the internet as they would to any other type of addiction. Some behaviors such as compulsiveness, disregard for negative consequences, and failed attempts to cut back are indicators that a person may be suffering from an addiction. Internet addiction is also similar to other addictions in that it is difficult to treat without proper help.

Online Culture

If a person has a problem with alcohol, we tell them not to drink. If a person has a gambling addiction, we advise they not go to make bets. However, what are we supposed to tell a person with an internet addiction? It would be nearly impossible, in today’s modern world, to cut the internet completely out of your life. Almost every occupation imaginable requires at least some part of the internet.

What Parents Can Do

Perhaps one of the best ways for parents to combat this problem is by making sure their kids have enough healthy activities to take part in that are not online. Also, kids should start being encouraged to make friends that are not on the computer and that they can actually play with in real life. It is becoming disturbingly normal to hear kids brag about their “thousands of friends”, when the reality of the situation is that they spend all of their time alone in front of the computer. When did fantasy baseball replace kids playing actual baseball?

Taking Action

Parents have got to take responsibility for how much time their children spend in front of a computer screen. No one is suggesting that kids not be allowed online, only that it does not start to dominate their social lives. Once a young person starts preferring Facebook friends over real friends, and World of Warcraft over going outside and playing capture the flag, they may be in trouble.

The internet is a wonderful tool. It can enrich people’s lives and businesses in many different ways. However, too much of anything is not healthy. This includes technology. Kids who are addicted to the internet may become more socially awkward than other kids who enjoy a healthy balance of activities. This can lead to problems down the road such as alcohol or drug abuse very easily. One of the best ways we can start to curtail this disturbing trend is by educating young people about the dangers of internet addiction.

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