Despite all ado about it, Punjab continues to be in the grip of addiction, though the state government and residents are still in a denial mode.
However, there is more to this addiction, which had its roots in the time of terrorism in the state than just drugs and alcohol. While a relationship between the phase of terrorism that Punjab had passed through in the 1980-90s and the Internet addiction of the present time appears unlikely, experts in the city say there is a definite connection between the two.
The fact that Internet addiction, also known as e-heroin in psychiatry, has taken Punjab with vehemence — even greater than alcohol or drug addiction — came to the fore during a talk delivered by Dr JPS Bhatia of Bhatia Neuro Psychiatric Hospital at Spring Dale Senior School.
According to Dr Bhatia, so serious are the problems of e-heroin and nomophobia (fear of losing mobile phone or being out of mobile phone contact) that these have been labelled as ‘diseases’ in psychiatry.
Addressing the students, Dr Bhatia said the phase of terrorism in Punjab translated into drug addiction, which was initially all about opium and alcohol. “Dependence on synthetic drugs increased when these began to be pumped into the Indian territory from across the border, causing behavioural problems resulting in mobile and Internet addictions,” he said.
Stating that Internet addiction owes its existence to the belief that Internet has answers to all of mankind’s problems, Dr Bhatia said the symptoms of addiction to e-heroin were similar to those of heroin fixation.
He maintained that Internet addiction could have a negative impact on the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual well-being of a human being.
“The MRIs of net addicts and heroin addicts have revealed similar changes in the brain,” he said.
Dr Bhatia said the decisions and actions of a human being are controlled by the brain, the prefrontal cortex of which does not develop till the age of 17 years. “It is this part of the brain that weighs outcomes, forms judgments and controls our impulses. Addiction of any sort at a young age can hamper its growth,” he said.
He added that on the other hand, the ‘Go system’ of the brain, which is basic to all human beings, persuades human beings for more.
“In addicts, the go-stop circuit breaks down, leaving the go system to run on its own,” said Dr Bhatia, urging the students to spend less time on their mobile phones and computers and spend more time with their parents, relatives and friends.