Internet Addiction, Like Nicotine Addiction, May Be Due To Genetic Mutation

CTRLButtonA group of German researchers at the University of Bonn recently surveyed 843 people and, after conducting DNA tests of those who said "all their thoughts revolve around the Internet", found that addiction to the internet is possibly linked to a genetic mutation.

From The Local:

Their findings, published in the September issue of Journal of Addiction Medicine, showed problematic users more often carried a variation of the CHRNA4 gene, which is typically linked to nicotine addiction.

"What we already know about the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the brain is that a mutation on the related gene promotes addictive behaviour," said the study's lead author, Christian Montag from the Department for Differential and Biological Psychology at the University of Bonn.

Nicotine from tobacco fits – just like acetylcholine, which is produced by the body – like a key into this receptor. Both these neurotransmitters play a significant role in activating the brain's reward system.

The study shows that internet addiction is more prevalent among women, but previous examinations suggested the opposite, so the team plan on doing some more research.


  1. jamal49 says

    Nicotine is a habit, not an addiction.

    You wanna quit? Don’t fire up that cig.

    It’s as simple as that.

  2. Homo Genius says

    No jamal. Its an addiction. I can tell you as a smoker. But related to your statement is why I believe 99% of drug treatment is a sham. People quit smoking everyday without some 12 step program or checking into Promises.

    Anuway on topic. I am glad thi study mentioned women. Because I have noticed that the past few years. My straight guys friends dont really use the internet like you think they would. But the woman virtually live online. I mean every second of their day is cataloged and “liked”.

    I think the change probably occured when social media went mainstream. Escpecially after they have had babies women have a lot of free time to kill and they get sucked into it. There are sites I had been visiting for years that I have abandoned because the “community” changed from urban gays and hipsters to soccer moms.

  3. Mike says

    Here we go again with the head shrinkers making up a new addiction to sell more pills for the billion dollar pill makers who kick back money to the head shrinkers who push their pills.

  4. ratbastard says

    I agree with Jamal. But there are a few people, small percentage wise, who can’t seem to control their appetites for alcohol, tobacco, food, sugar, gaming, gambling, sex, the list is ENDLESS. Those people IMO appear to suffer from a lack of impulse control. Is it genetic-based? Maybe to some degree, more likely the reasons for a lack of impulse control occurs for a variety of reasons, genetics being one of them.

    There are no easy answers, and popping an expensive approved pharmaceutical pill is probably not going to solve anything but make some very wealthy.

  5. gregory brown says

    Does this mutation explain other things, such as addiction to religious fundamentalism and Theocratic political and social movements? There’s a topic begging for research.

  6. andrew says

    @Jamal49: Were you ever a smoker? I started smoking at 17 when I joined the USN. It was the manly thing to do. I got addicted to nicotine. I smoked for many years and tried to quit many many times. After a long struggle I was finally able to quit. I have no doubt that if I went out today and bought a pack of smokes I would be right back where I started. A prisoner of my addiction.