Internet Addicts May Be More Prone to Try Drugs

Posted on February 26th, 2012
Posted in Articles

While addiction traditionally has referred to a problem with a substance, such as illegal drugs or alcohol, there are new types of addictions being evaluated. Addictions to activities such as gambling and Internet use are being explored through research.

Some experts believe that just as one type of substance addiction can make a person susceptible to becoming addicted to another substance, there may also be a connection between different types of addiction, including behaviors related to the Internet.

Many factors contribute to the development of an addiction, but the presence of one type of addiction may make it more likely that a person will develop another type of addiction.

Researchers from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki examined whether those who are addicted to the Internet may be more likely to use illegal drugs. Their findings are causing some to propose that drug warnings appear on gaming Internet sites to help educate users about the dangers of using drugs.

The team of researchers from Aristotle University conducted a survey of all adolescents on the Greek island of Kos. The survey contained measures of substance use, Internet use and various personality factors.

A total of 1,221 teens completed the survey. Of those participants, about 15 percent identified themselves as extreme Internet users. Approximately five percent reported signs of an Internet addiction.

The survey revealed that about 13 percent had a history of substance abuse. Approximately seven percent of the teens admitted to substance abuse occurring in the past 30 days. In addition, as Internet use became greater, the probability of using an illegal substance also increased. The connection was especially strong between substance use and the viewing of online pornography.

In general, boys had rates of substance abuse that were higher than girls.

The researchers certain personality profiles were associated with a higher level of substance use and an increased level of Internet use. Personality characteristics like aggressiveness, nonconformity and impulsiveness were connected with psychoticism.

This adds support to previous studies that have discovered a connection between addictive disorders and high psychoticism scores.

The research team notes that the findings may be helpful for those who plan drug education programs. Helping individuals be aware of the connection between Internet use and substance abuse may help people be more aware of potential problems.

The findings may also help create screenings for those who struggle with Internet addiction. Parents should also be aware of the connection between Internet addiction and substance abuse so that they can keep an open dialogue with their children about Internet use and decisions about substance use.

The researchers believe that the findings support the use of warnings on Internet gaming sites, hacking communities, and social networking sites that might serve as a screening for those more likely to try an illicit drug.

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