Facebook and alcohol addictions are similar

A number of similarities have been found between addiction to Facebook and alcohol dependence. According to new research published in the journal Psychological Reports, there are resemblances between excessive use of social networking sites and drinking, drug and substance abuse.

Cecilie Schou Andreassen, Doctor of Psychology at the University of Bergen, headed the project and has come up with a Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale.

This marker showed those addicted to Facebook display similar behaviours to alcohol and drug overuse, including spending time thinking about the portal, feeling urges to use it more and more, turning to the site to forget personal problems, unsuccessful attempts to reduce use and becoming restless if prevented from logging in. 

In addition, the investigation - which was developed in collaboration with the Bergen Clinics Foundation in Norway - found individuals may use Facebook to such an extent that it has a negative impact on their work or studies.

Dr Michael Reddy, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "The only surprise at the similarities to be found between addiction to Facebook and alcohol dependence would be if anybody should find it surprising.

"All addictions carry the same profile of an individual who spends excessive amounts of time involved in the addictive behaviour (for example, work), or ingests excessive amounts of nicotine, food, alcohol, drugs, chocolate, etc.

"Equally, the fact that addiction to Facebook has a negative impact on the individual's work or studies, or leads to neglect of other areas of life - family, recreation, exercise and so on - is not much more than a statement of the obvious. There are only 24 hours in the day and any individual's mental and physical energies have their natural limits.

"It is characteristic of any addiction that breaking it is usually difficult. The alcoholic who abstains will initially be restless, will be as obsessed with related thinking as much as drinking and as is the case with any addict he or she will probably be displaying typical withdrawal symptoms while trying to fill the aching gap of what has been left behind."