Melbourne, May 11 : Much like drugs and alcohol, the BlackBerry smartphone has become an addiction that is not only controlling lives and increasing stress loads, but is even threatening relationships with loved ones.
This high-tech gadget nicknamed 'CrackBerry' is causing irrational and damaging behaviour among owners who can't say no.
Academics and researchers said that they are increasingly seeing people who show addictive traits when away from the gadget.
Users have become so addicted that obsessively check their emails, like hiding in the toilet to read them, and putting them under their pillow in bed so they can answer them during the night.
The growing concern is that users are suffering withdrawal symptoms more linked to drugs and alcohol when forced to disconnect from the gadget.
Dr Anthony Grant, director of the Coaching Psychology Unit at Sydney University, said that he was aware of clients who are hooked on to BlackBerry-checking.
"It's a growing practice in many financial institutions where BlackBerries are confiscated in meetings and put into a box, and people get very anxious about this. It's quite painful when it's taken away," News.com.au quoted him, as saying.
"This incessant exchange of information - a bombardment of information - has become a major factor increasing stress in the contemporary workplace," he added.
Dr Kristine Dery, Sydney University researcher, examined BlackBerry use and has found that some workers quickly become addicted to using them, while others go to extremes to avoid the gadget.
The research found that some employees given the device when they went on holidays were very reluctant to hand them back at the end.
However, other employees found them insufferable, with one person even taking a holiday in a remote part of China so they could not be contacted from work.
Dr Julie Cogin, from the Australian School of Business at the University of NSW, said she had encountered many 'CrackBerrys' during the corporate training courses she teaches.
"I've heard stories about partners of BlackBerry users asking for a table for three at restaurants. One is for them, one's for their partner and one's for the partner's BlackBerry," she said.
"People are becoming increasingly agitated about the distraction it causes to home lives.
"The people around you feel alienated when you answer your emails during lunch," she added.
She believes that addiction for BlackBerry particularly affect those working for multinational corporations with colleagues operating on different time zones across the world, and it takes an awful lot of discipline to effectively manage the device.
"I think it provides employees with a lot of flexibility to stay in touch. However, you need the discipline to turn them off," she said.
"I'm concerned with what this is doing to the promotion of leadership around the world because leaders are not doing the job of coaching staff.
"If you can always be contacted, you're not encouraging your staff to make decisions in your absence.
"And if you immediately answer your emails and phone calls any time of the day, you're encouraging that kind of behaviour. You're setting yourself up," she added.