Researchers are calling for drugs warnings on gaming sites, following the discovery that ‘internet addicts’ appear to be more likely to take illegal drugs.
A team from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki surveyed the entire adolescent population of the Greek island of Kos on their nternet use, substance use and personality factors.
Of the 1,221 teens who responded to the survey, about fifteen percent were heavy internet users, while five percent had signs of internet addiction, says the team.
Thirteen percent reported past substance abuse, including a seven percent rate of substance abuse within the past month.
And as the excessive internet use increased, so did the likelihood of substance abuse – with drug use correlating with the use of online porn in particular. Boys had higher rates of substance abuse than girls.
The team also found that both substance use and heavy internet use were associated with distinct personality profiles – and in particular characteristics such as nonconformity, aggressiveness and impulsiveness, all associated with psychoticism.
Previous studies have linked other addictive disorders to high psychoticism scores.
The researchers say the findings could be used as part of drug education programs.
“Those adolescents eager to try any illicit substance are a prime target for early intervention programs,” they say. They suggest promoting abuse prevention and early detection programs in, for example, online gaming sites, social networking sites and hacking communities.