A group of researchers from the University of San Francisco (USA) says that being hooked to electronic devices, such as smartphone addiction, is comparable to being on opioids and that such a habit isolates people. The study has been published in the journal Neuro Regulation.
This continuous dependence generates in the brain the same neuronal connections that are generated when certain types of opiates are consumed, the study adds.
“Addiction to smartphones forms neuronal connections in the brain in a similar way to opioid addiction, in people who take oxycodone to relieve pain, for example,” explained Dr. Peper, the leading author of the study.
Oxycodone is a very potent and potentially addictive opioid analgesic
The research, which has been led by professors Erik Peper and Richard Harvey, also reveals that the same addiction impairs communication skills among those who use this type of devices intensively.
The results are based on a survey in which 135 students from the State University of San Francisco participated. Those who used their smartphones intensively had higher levels of social isolation, loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
Also, researchers believe that loneliness is, in part, the consequence of replacing direct interaction between two people.
Researchers say that there are ways to change our habits and behaviors
It is possible to educate ourselves and follow guidelines when interacting with electronic devices, similarly to the same way we strive to reduce sugar consumption, for example.
The first step is to recognize the problem, which, according to the scientists, is hard to conquer since mobile companies manipulate us to generate this smartphone addiction, as well as addictions to social media or games, subsequently. Also, other electronic devices produce addiction, as well. Peper recommends starting by disabling automatic notifications and responding to emails or messages on social networks at certain times of the day.