Are You Addicted to Your Cell Phone?

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
girl looking at a cell phone

A phobia is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Phobias can cause a lot of anxiety, panic, and even fainting. You may have heard of some phobias, such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders) or claustrophia (fear of confined spaces).

But have you ever heard of nomophobia—the fear of being without your cell phone? We’ve all had that anxious feeling when you’ve lost your phone or accidentally left it at home. But does your anxiety increase to the point of being a phobia?


Nomophobia—an abbreviation of “no-mobile-phone-phobia”—is also called “cell phone addiction.” Symptoms include:

  • Experiencing anxiety or panic over losing your phone
  • Obsessively checking for missed calls, emails, and texts
  • Using your phone in inappropriate places like the bathroom or church
  • Missing out on opportunities for face-to-face interactions

A recent survey found that two-thirds of people in the United Kingdom experience nomophobia. That number increases to 77% for young people age 18‒24. Cell phone use is definitely increasing everywhere, especially among teens…overall in the U.S., 75% of all teens text, sending an average of 60‒100 texts per day.

Is Nomophobia Real?

Researchers debate whether nomophobia is a real addiction. Addiction to drugs stems from their causing dopamine to flood the brain—which can trigger euphoria and a strong desire to repeat the experience. Researchers question whether the anticipation or rush of receiving an email, text, or Facebook status update may also trigger release of dopamine. But no studies have examined the issue.

So, what do you think? Do you believe nomophobia is real? Do you know people who are addicted to their cell phones? Are you?

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

Related Articles

Say What? “Relapse”
July 2018

A person who's trying to stop using drugs can sometimes start using them again. Fortunately, treatment can help to lower...