How do we recognize a technology dependency?
Our brain is constantly looking for experiences that can give us dopamine. Dopamine is the wanting and the thrill of seeking, it’s not about liking. The more we use, the more we want, and the “liking” decreases when the tolerance increases – resulting in more wanting, and then the natural opiates produced decrease pain and increase dopamine again – so we are left with this hyperactive seeking system which can be triggered by external or internal cues to use.
Dr Jon E. Grant is a Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the Addictive, Compulsive, and Impulsive Disorders Lab at the University of Chicago. He compares the addicted brain to a car with too little brakes and too much gas – when we think about using, reaching for Snapchat, dopamine starts rushing, which activates the pleasure opiates and we have less access to our thinking brain and less GABA (the brakes to our dopamine engine).
Speaker Gabor Maté, the renowned addiction expert, has also remarked about how our brains work: When we repeat something it changes our brains; that’s how we learn to play an instrument, to drive a car. But the longer we depend on something, especially in an underdeveloped brain (could be due to trauma, could be age-related), the less development can happen in the brain. Asking for change is impossible as we are asking to change an organ which can’t change – all due to dependencies.