Researchers Examine The Connection Between Internet Addiction and Drug Abuse Among Teens
Internet addiction and drug abuse are two behaviors that can be both isolating and destructive to personal health and relationships. In a new study published in the journal Psychology Research and Behavior Management, researchers sought to find if there were overlapping patterns between the two habits, and if this knowledge could be used to improve health education and substance abuse treatment programs in the future:
“…focusing on adolescents’ health and institutionalizing appropriate training programs for adolescents and their families are vital.”
For the study, researchers asked Iranian high schoolers about drug abuse and internet usage. Researchers stated that increased drug accessibility and Internet-capable devices have led to the high cost of health care and addiction treatment in Iran and worldwide.
Also, many Internet users are teenagers who are vulnerable to compulsive internet use and drug abuse – that is, teens who socially retreat into virtual worlds could be more susceptible to using drugs
The study enlisted 385 students – 194 boys and 191 girls who had Internet access to participate in two surveys. Socio-demographic data was also collected along with the surveys to provide information on other variables that could increase the likelihood of drug abuse.
Of those analyzed, more than 28% reported having a moderate-to-severe dependency on the Internet, and 3.6% were severely dependent. Researchers found that adolescents studying applied sciences reported higher levels of Internet addiction, thought due to the prevalence of internet access and related devices for students involved in the field.
Strangely, they also found that there was a significant association between Internet addiction and the literacy of student’s mothers – that is, students with highly-educated and literate moms also had the greatest likelihood of development Internet addiction.
More than 8% of students were deemed likely to engage in drug use. About one-third reported using prescription medications, such as sleeping pills, for non-medical use. Although researchers found no significant relationship between socio-demographic data and drug use, they discovered that students who lived in rural areas, were enrolled in public schools, and studied in the field of arts or humanities had the greatest likelihood of drug addiction.
Still, around 79% of students said they preferred to deal with their problems via peer communication rather than drug use. But this means that those without a social support system may be tempted to turn back inward to the Internet for help, a move that could also be isolating and contribute to one addiction or another.
“Given the serious consequences of internet addiction and drug abuse among adolescents…we hope the results of this study would be useful for developing health-oriented programs in the future.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology
Zeinab N., and Hossein M. Assessing behavioral patterns of Internet addiction and drug abuse among high school students. Psychology Research and Behavior Management. Jan 25, 2017. Retrieved from