What is Cell Phone Addiction?

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Before we begin, let's clear the air. By accepted definition, addiction is a complex, chronic, and neurobiological disease influenced by genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors.

Addiction manifests as an inability to control one's substance use, compulsiveness with regard to substance use, continued use despite evident personal harm, substance-seeking behaviors, and physiological as well as psychological withdrawal symptoms.

A recent poll showed that 40 percent of people who use their smartphones religiously said they think they would experience withdrawal symptoms if they couldn't use their phones. 'Thinking' you would experience withdrawal and actually experiencing it are vastly different things.

In short, cell phone addiction uses the term "addiction" loosely and colloquially, not accurately. At best this is a compulsive disorder, not a clinical addiction.

Cell Phone Addiction

Another problem with calling this an addiction lies in the fact that the behaviors associated with it are poorly defined. Simply because you can't start your day without checking Facebook or other social media sites doesn't mean that you have a clinical addiction and should consider a 30-day inpatient program.

Nor can it be reasonably quantified. If one in four smartphone users checks his phone so often that he loses count, or one in five claims to check her phone every 10 minutes, this still doesn't provide a useful basis for understanding the allure of cell phones or the physiological reward pathways at work. Until this compulsion gains some reasonable parameters that are agreed upon by the wider addiction and psychological community, it will remain a colloquial label.

Getting Rehab for Cell Phone Addiction

At least one reputable rehab facility now includes mobile technology (what they refer to as nomophobia) among the addiction-related problems they treat. It should be noted that not even that rehab center includes it under their addiction treatments.

Rather, they include it as a "mental illness treatment", which speaks to its nature as a compulsive disorder, not a clinical addiction.

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