Google Glass: A New Gateway Drug?

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Scientists are saying a man who had been using Google Glass for up to 18-hours per day is now believed to be the first patient with a diagnosable form of internet addiction specifically brought on by the device.

How Much is too Much?

The patient, only identified as a 31-year-old US navy serviceman, entered inpatient treatment for alcoholism at the US Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Program (SARP). But when he checked in, it was clear to the staff that he was also suffering from involuntary movements, memory problems and lucid dreams as though he were still wearing the glasses.

People used to believe alcoholism wasn’t a problem – they blamed the person or the people around them. It’s going to take a while for us to realize that this is real.-Dr. Andrew DoanThe man also reported that, in the two months he had been using Google Glass to improve his performance at work, he only took the device off during two instances: when he was sleeping or in the shower. He also reported feeling irritable and combative without it.

“People used to believe alcoholism wasn’t a problem – they blamed the person or the people around them. It’s going to take a while for us to realize that this is real,” said Dr. Andrew Doan, head of addictions and resilience research at SARP.

“There is very little time between these [neurological] rushes. So for an individual who’s looking to escape, for an individual who has underlying mental disregulation, for people with a predisposition for addiction, technology provides a very convenient way to access these rushes.”

Making Sense of Digital Addiction

While it’s possible that using any piece of technology for 18 hours at a time would result in some major side effects, the new report has once again sparked debate on the legitimacy of internet addiction. It wasn’t included in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Other researchers believe that Internet overuse is a symptom of other psychological problems and not an issue specifically related to the Internet.

A research paper on the Google Glass patient notes that he “has a history of a mood disorder most consistent with a substance induced hypomania overlaying a depressive disorder, anxiety disorder with characteristics of social phobia and obsessive compulsive disorder, and severe alcohol and tobacco use disorders.”

The issue of Internet overuse has long been a problem among teenagers and young adults who are constantly surrounded by technological devices – particularly those of the portable kind. A new study even found that half of all kids aged 14-15 admitted being addicted to the Internet, with one-quarter of the kids carrying an Internet-connected device to bed with them. Girls used the internet more for socialization, while boys were more apt to use it for gaming.

Learn more about the available treatment options for Internet addiction.

Does your insurance cover addiction treatment?

Use our free and confidential online insurance checker to see if your insurance covers treatment at an American Addiction Center facility.

See if you’re covered