Chronic phone use can also cause other physical dysfunctions, like GABA (a neurotransmitter in the brain) dysfunction and a loss of grey matter in the brain, which are highly correlated to substance use disorders.
Chronic phone overuse is proven to change reward circuits in the brain chemically. One of the primary affected neurotransmitters is gabapentin (GABA). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that produces a calming or euphoric effect. It can even control fear and anxiety. The inhibitor plays a significant role in addiction by rewarding substance use and reinforcing addictive behaviors.
Research shows that chronic phone use can increase or decrease GABA production. Disturbances to the GABA system are proven to be a warning sign of addiction. In a study by the Radiological Society of North America, heavy phone use was linked to an upsetting ratio of GABA to other neurotransmitters. When the teen test subjects received cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the disorder, their brain chemistry reverted to a non-addicted ratio.
Grey matter in the brain is connected to the part of the central nervous system responsible for enabling individuals to control movement, memory, and emotions. A recent study scanned participants’ brains with a phone addiction and discovered a change in their brain’s grey matter. According to the researchers, the physical shape and size of their brains resembled that of drug users. Grey matter volume among people addicted to their phones diminished in critical areas, a condition similarly observed in people with a substance use disorder.