Controversy arises when the word “addiction” is coupled by something non-fatal, like social media. Social media addiction cannot kill you. However, a severe and legitimate psychological dependency on social media can cause mental illness to become debilitating, which in turn influences physical health. By secondary or even tertiary causes, social media addiction could inspire an individual’s loss of life. Even though social media cannot cause death directly, life is lost in other ways for people who are addicted to social media. A psychological addiction leads to obsession, cravings, needing more, losing sight of priorities, losing sight of needs, and even becoming sick. People who become addicted to non-chemical “substances, or processes, can experience symptoms of withdrawal through sweating, shaking, heart palpitations, headaches, stomach aches, and more.
Social media addiction can come between friendships, romantic relationships, family responsibilities, work responsibilities and much more. Similar to chemical substances, like drugs and alcohol, social media creates a release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical which creates and communicates feelings of pleasure. Every part of the social media process stimulates this dopamine production. Thinking about social media, anticipating using social media, actually using social media, the many pleasurable stimuli which occur during social media use, and the satisfaction of having used social media, are all part of the process. Numerous research studies have been conducted which find that small alerts and notifications on social media apps create this surge of pleasure. Additionally, scrolling through the “news feeds” of these social media apps stimulates the brain in a way comparable to cocaine. The more social media is used, the more someone addicted to social media craves using it. Thus the cycle of social media addiction perpetuates.
The Washington Post highlights six important questions to ask yourself if you feel you are stuck in a cycle of social media addiction from which you cannot escape:
- Do you spend a lot of time, when you’re not online, thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
- Do you feel urges to use social media more and more over time?
- Do you use social media to forget about personal problems?
- Do you often try to reduce your use of social media, without success?
- Do you become restless or troubled if you are unable to use social media?
- Do you use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job, relationship or studies?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, your social media habits have spun out of control. Frequently, social media addiction can be coupled with substance abuse issues and/or mental illness issues.
Curating a custom treatment plan for social media addiction and any comorbid issues takes the planning and knowledge of experienced professionals. O’Connor Professional Group offers concierge style treatment planning and recovery services, designed to help you meet your personal and professional needs. Call us today for information: 617.910.3940