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Signs And Symptoms Of A Cell Phone Addiction

Debra Wallace, MA.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Debra Wallace, MA.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

April 8, 2019

Many individuals now find themselves attached to their cell phones at all times. Whether answering work emails or texting friends, people are constantly on their phones. Cell phone addiction is on the rise and many people don’t even know that it exists.

So much of what we do in our daily lives involves technology, including our cell phones. As Fox News Health states, “we are living in a time when there is no distinction between ‘on’ and ‘off’ or public and private time.” Essentially, we rely on our cell phones for many important aspects of our lives, and some research suggests this could foster an unhealthy condition: addiction.

Fox News Health reports that, according to research, we check our phones as many as 190 times per day. This compulsive need to be connected, to the phone and to what it gives us, is similar to compulsion associated with substance abuse and addiction.

People who have fallen victim to addiction to drugs or alcohol find themselves seeking use of the substances at any cost. They will lose sleep, miss important activities, shirk responsibility, even engage in risky behavior, to fulfill their craving for the substance. More and more, people behave in similar ways ensure the continued use of cell phones.

Some signs you may be addicted to cell phone use, as reported by CNN, include:

  • As with many addictions, your phone is the first thing you reach for when you get up in the morning/the last thing you reach for at night before bed
  • You experience actual feelings of withdrawal (cravings, urges to seek use of the phone) when you’re away from it
  • Use the phone to cope: bored, angry, or upset, you pick up the phone to deal with these feelings or get away from them
  • You experience signs of intolerance: you use it more and more to get enough satisfaction from it
  • Inability to stop using the phone: can’t connect to the moment because you have to be using your phone to capture it, or post it

These are the hard signs, but you may be wondering how you can recognize these signs in your daily life. Here are some examples of things you may do when addicted to your cell phone:

  • You use your phone for things you could do without it—like checking the time
  • You find yourself making a conscious effort to put the phone down for certain activities
  • You find yourself unable to step away from other worlds while you’re at home or work, i.e. answering work emails at home or while out, etc.
  • You use your phone excessively while driving, even if you know you shouldn’t, because you can’t leave it alone

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Can Cell Phone Addiction Require Treatment?

We may not think that our connection to cell phones is that bad, but more studies are suggesting it could be. Could cell phone addiction need treatment? The answer to this depends on your view of addiction. If you recognize addiction as a disease which changes your brain chemistry, aligning thinking with seeking use of the substance, then you understand that it may require treatment.

Certain substances change the way your brain responds to reward, and this is what creates addiction. But addiction can also occur when you form bad habits over time, producing an effect in the brain similar to that of hard, illicit drugs.

Just like with substances of abuse, we may choose our first time to buy and use a cell phone—it is up to us how far out of control the addiction gets before we seek help.

How Could Cell Phone Addiction Affect Addiction To Drugs Or Alcohol?

While cell phone addiction isn’t a medically recognized disorder, it may affect addiction to substances, or vice versa. Any time you have one addiction or disorder, you run the risk of it affecting any subsequent ones.

If you have struggled with addiction in the past, you are more susceptible to addiction, so it’s easy to see how you could fall into cell phone addiction without realizing it. Also, many of the symptoms of cell phone addiction are similar to those of other addictions to substances. Symptoms of one disorder can intensify the symptoms of another. For example, experiencing withdrawal or tolerance to a certain substance may cause you to seek another substance to fill that void.

While cell phone addiction may not cause any immediate harm, it’s important to recognize that if you have struggled with addiction in the past or are struggling now, you don’t need any other addictive tendencies in your life. Instead, you need treatment to help put you back in control of your life.

Addiction To Drugs Or Alcohol—What Can Be Done About It?

If you are ready to get out of the endless cycle of addiction, there are things you can do to break free. Treatment is the number one way to overcome addiction to drugs or alcohol, and inpatient rehab is at the top of successful treatment methods.

The rehab centers we promote at offer private, inpatient care. When you are recovering, the last thing you need is to be alone. Rather, you need mental, emotional, and medical support. At rehab, you’ll be surrounded with individuals who have years of experience treating people with many different kinds of substance abuse issues and mental health conditions.

After treatment, to ensure you build and maintain a substance-free lifestyle, you can join support groups or 12-step programs to keep you on track. Our rehab centers will help you every step of the way, from finding the right rehab center to designing a viable treatment plan, to healing, to integrating back into your community.

What Treatments Are Available For Substance Abuse And Addiction?

Rehab centers vary on the types of modalities they offer to help people, but our facilities furnish a variety of methods. This multidisciplinary approach gives participants the best opportunity for comprehensive healing. Some of these methods include:

  • Treatment specific to men
  • Treatment specific to women
  • Professional intervention services
  • Medication-assisted therapy
  • Medically assisted detoxification
  • Counseling: individual, group, and family
  • Behavioral therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Holistic healing approaches to treat the mind, body, and spirit
  • Nutrition and exercise guidance
  • Aftercare support

How To Find Help And Get Your Life Back

If you have struggled with addiction in the past, and fear you may be falling into addiction again, even cell phone addiction, it may be best to seek help. Relapse is part of recovery, and we can help you get back on track.

If you struggled for years and are ready to reach out, we can help you take the first step to make a positive change in your life: entering an inpatient rehab center for treatment.

Contact us today at to learn more about addiction, treatment, and the best rehab centers available.

U.S. National Library Of Medicine: National Institutes Of Health - Cell-Phone Addiction: A Review

Fox News - Are you addicted to your cellphone? Tips for breaking the habit

CNN - 10 signs you might be addicted to your smartphone

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