‘Digital drugs’ are affecting our physical and emotional health

Stanford’s Dr. Anna Lembke says many of us could benefit from a dopamine fast from our electronic devices.

a person scrolls on a smartphone

Whether or not we’re aware of it, technology is changing our relationships with others and with the world. The endless possibility of the next digital dopamine hit affects our thoughts, feelings and physical and emotional health.

Dr. Anna Lembke is professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine and chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic. She wrote the book, “Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence,” and she joined CultureShift to talk about why technology has become so addictive to our brains and how we could potentially benefit from a “dopamine fast” from our devices.

“I think what’s hard to parse apart is the subtle negative effects on mood and wellbeing that these devices have on us. That’s because of the way we process pleasure and pain. The way dopamine is released in response to our engagement with these digital drugs… can put us into a chronic dopamine deficient which can be very akin to clinical depression.” — Dr. Anna Lembke, Stanford University

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  • Amanda LeClaire
    Amanda LeClaire is an award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. She’s a founding producer of WDET’s flagship news talk show Detroit Today, and a former host/reporter for Arizona Public Media. Amanda is also an artist, certified intuitive and energy healer, and professional tarot reader.