Scientists have found that the chemical changes in the brain causing such a reliance on the Internet are similar to those of cigarette, cocaine, and heroine addicts. According to a recent control-case study published by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 132 of 843 participants who were interviewed about their Internet use expressed seemingly troublesome Internet-use habits. It was found that the DNA results of those 132 participants demonstrated the addictive mutation (or the T- variant (CC genotype) of the rs1044396 polymorphism, to be exact) on the CHRNA4 gene more frequently than on the other participants in the study. This is the same mutation found on the CHRNA4 gene found in heroine and cocaine addicts. So if these same mutations were not as frequently evident in the 711 participants whose Internet habits were not found to be problematic, this probably isn't just chance, right?
A smaller study published by CBS news also reports evidence of a correlation between the brain and Internet addiction. Brain scans were performed on 17 individuals found to be addicted to the Internet, and 16 "healthy" individuals. Abnormal white matter areas were found in the 17 individuals suffering from Internet addiction, and not in the 16 others studied. These changes in the white matter of the brain are similar to those of drug addicts and, "showed evidence of disrupting pathways related to emotions, decision-making, and self control.
From this research, we can reject the null hypothesis that there is no genetic make up or mutation causing an addiction to the Internet. The possibility of a treatable addiction to the Internet is on the front of scientific research. While the research is preliminary, it is certainly compelling and being furthered. And while it may be hard to believe that reliance on the Internet is both a biological and psychological addiction similar to that of cigarettes, alcohol, and hard drugs, science is working to prove it is.
Want to know if you may suffer from internet addiction? Look no further than right here.