Yes, smartphone addiction and smartphone addiction treatment are a thing. Smartphone addiction is just like addiction to heroin or alcohol. When you use a smartphone, the pleasure centers in the brain stimulate themselves, and the addiction cycle begins reinforcing itself. Smartphone addiction can negatively affect people’s lives and relationships, but it is also treatable. Digital detox programs and smartphone addiction treatment programs offer a structured environment and therapy that works to rewire the brain and break the cycle of addiction.
What is Smartphone Addiction?
On an elementary level, smartphone addiction is developed in the following way:
- You receive a notification
- You determine if it is positive or negative
- If it is a positive message your brain releases dopamine, if it is negative, it does not
- Steps 1-4 cycle for a time
- Your brain becomes trained to release the dopamine before deciphering the type of message, enhancing your positive or negative reaction
On the surface, this may not look like a problem. But it is very similar to gambling or using substances to fix an underlying problem. Smartphone addictions fit into what are called process addictions, which also include internet, social media, and gaming addictions. During process addictions, the brain’s reward circuit rewires itself into a negative feedback loop which causes people to enter bouts of severe depression and even suicidal ideation. All of this stems from not getting the messages they want from their smartphone.
Signs of a Smartphone Problem
The stage of addiction starts when smartphone use begins to have adverse effects on the life of the smartphone user. Signs of smartphone addiction are:
- Smartphone use keeps you awake and cuts into your sleeping time
- Device use interferes with work or homework
- Cutting people off in real life conversations to check your phone
- Smartphone use eats into family and friend time
- Use affects your thoughts, as in you no longer have the capacity of critical thinking or creativity
Many psychiatrists consider this to be a spectrum disorder. Some people suffer from the ramifications of smartphone addiction more than others. Tossing phones all together is not necessary. Heavy smartphone use and addiction in children and young adults have been shown to lead to depression because of their reliance on creating and developing social ties at this age.
Young adults are essentially “fining” themselves through their interaction with others. When these interactions are primarily online and do not reflect reality, young adults are led to have a false sense of what they should be striving to be. This is the downward spiral that can lead to depression and even suicide.
Smartphone Addiction Treatment Programs
There is help out there; there are electronic addiction treatment programs for people of all ages. Often, this begins with a digital detox and then progresses into longer-term care. You can even try to start with a family digital detox day, where everyone turns in their devices for the day and enjoys each other.
A digital detox facility is really no different than any other detox situation. Most detoxes will not allow you to bring in your own devices or spend copious amounts of time on the phone, no matter what you are detoxing from. Going through a digital detox, alone will not help with any other problems that have been caused by overuse of a smartphone. In addition to a digital detox, you should expect to participate in treatment for any related issues, which can include:
Treatment for a smartphone addiction revolves around behavioral change therapy, mindfulness, positive self-esteem therapy, group therapy, emotional support, complementary therapies, and eventually the creation of a discharge plan. A well-rounded treatment plan will ensure that a young smartphone addict comes home with tools and plan to not fall prey to what people are saying on the internet.
Where to Find Electronic Addiction Help
Smartphone addiction treatment is beginning to become more common. You should ask your care providers and look for accredited rehabilitation services. You want to make sure that you get your young adult the best treatment they need and treatment that they will respond to.
Venture Academy offers a smartphone addiction treatment program with certified staff. Call 855.281.5813 to find out more about how you can change your behavior around your smartphone today!