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UK Makes Social Media Addiction Official

"Likes" and "retweets" can provide an addictive dopamine rush, say researchers.

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More and more people get high on "likes".
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By Valerie Tejeda

02/14/13

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If you are dying for "likes," you may be suffering from an addiction to social media, which is now recognized as an official condition in the UK. Researchers at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in London began intensely studying social media addiction following the release of a 2012 study which claimed that sites like Facebook and Twitter can be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. While digging a little deeper, the researchers discovered that “likes” and “retweets” can provide users with a burst of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which in turn can become addictive. Richard Graham, consulting psychiatrist at the clinic in London, says that he has treated nearly 100 social media addicted patients a year. “They start to miss or avoid doing the necessary things in life, even at a fundamental level of self-care,” says Graham. “They delay eating or avoid eating or drinking, delay sleep, miss meetings or delay getting into work or college.” The clinic treats patients of all ages—ranging from children to 35-year-old adults, including at least one professional soccer player.

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