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Internet Addiction Linked To Substance Abuse

The more teens obsess over the internet, the likelier they are to take drugs, researchers find.

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One thing leads to another. Thinkstock

By Valerie Tejeda

03/12/12

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Spending excess hours on the web is linked to substance abuse in teens by a new study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. Teens with obsessive internet tendencies are more likely to use drugs, found researchers in Greece, and if their internet use increases, their chances of substance abuse increase too. Internet junkies are also found to have personality traits typically including nonconformity, aggressiveness, recklessness and impulsiveness. “Not only did we find that specific personality attributes were important in both substance abuse and Internet addiction, but that Internet addiction remained an important predictor of substance abuse,” says study co-author Georgios Floros, of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The study followed 1,271 students between the ages of 14 and 19. Internet addiction is hotly-debated, with some medical professionals pushing its inclusion in 2013 edition of the psychiatrists’ "bible,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It's about more than just the total hours spent online. “A lot has to do with that kid’s relationship to the Internet,” cautions Dr. Megan Moreno, a pediatric and adolescent medicine specialist at UW Health in Madison. “Do they feel the day is horrible if they can’t get online? If they’re offline, are they constantly thinking about going online? Are they substituting things that they can do offline and only doing them online?”

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