As of 2007, 84 percent of the U.S. population subscribed to cell phone service of some sort. This is a massive amount, especially considering that just 13 percent of the population had cell phone service in 2005. And this trend is showing no signs of slowing.

Experts are expecting cell phone usage to continue to grow as technology advances, and our reliance on them to grow along with it.

Already, a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey found that 51% of those polled said it would be very hard to give up their cell phones.

Though cell phone “addiction” has yet to be classified as a real disorder, the signs of an emerging problem are already there. Cell phones ring commonly at the most inappropriate of times -- in movie theaters, during speeches, weddings, funerals -- and sometimes are even answered. People, it seems, are actually afraid of NOT being connected, even for a short period of time.

Case in point, information-science professor Sergio Chaparro asked 220 Rutgers University students to turn off their cell phones for 72 hours. How many were able to complete this seemingly simple assignment? Only three.

“They were afraid. They were truly afraid,” Chaparro told FOX News. “What I found was basically a high level of dependence on cell phones. Most students were particularly, I would say, scared of the experience … They had high levels of anxiety, high levels of stress, high levels of insecurity.”

Chaparro’s experiment was conducted in 2003, and one could assume that the response would only be more severe today, five years later.

While older generations tend to feel annoyed by the constant influx of calls to cell phones, younger generations are thoroughly hooked and actually can feel withdrawal if their cell phone is taken away. There are even reports of 12- and 13-year-old children being treated for “cell phone addiction” at a clinic in Spain, after they talked or texted an average of six hours a day, and had trouble doing school work or everyday tasks because of the phones.

Why Cell Phones Have Such a Strong Hold On Us

It’s easy to understand why people love cell phones. They’re incredibly convenient, they keep us connected and they’re great for emergencies. But the reliance we’ve come to have on them -- keeping them turned on at all times, accepting calls at inappropriate times, texting non-stop, and basically feeling completely lost without them -- goes much deeper.

“Many of us live on our cell phone. We do this in order to avoid the sense of loneliness and isolation that most of us feel even if we are in a great relationship or surrounded by loving people,” says Hale Dwoskin, CEO and director of training of Sedona Training Associates. “This sense of isolation is based on our identifying with our sense of being an individual separate from others. When this is examined it can be discovered that this separate individual is not real.”

So how can you tell if you're 'addicted'?

Consumer behavior expert Diana James says that running up high bills and having irrational reactions if you have to be without your cell phone are the top signs.

“The paradox of the phone is that it gives independence but it also creates dependence,” she told Psych Central News.

In fact, almost all addictions manifest the same types of symptoms, including:
  • You do it more and more as time goes by
  • You always make sure you have it on hand
  • When you give in to the addiction, you feel happy or secure
  • You feel you need the addiction to get through the day
  • You have tried to stop the addiction in the past, but weren’t able to
  • You find it difficult to stay away from the behavior for several days

Addictions also have something else in common, according to Dwoskin.

“All addictions are coping mechanisms for unresolved emotions,” he says.

This is why, if you experience feelings of isolation and loneliness when you're without your cell phone, letting those feelings go using The Sedona Methodis essential.

“When you release these negative feelings you will discover that you do not need to be talking on the phone in order to be fulfilled or to make yourself feel needed, safe or complete,” Dwoskin says. “Part of the reason to release the need to be always on the phone is that it can be a great distraction from life and may even cause health risks from the phone itself or the inattentiveness that comes from talking on the phone while doing something else, especially driving.”

As you let go of your need to have a cell phone with you at all times, be sure to release on all of the possible emotions it brings up in you: a fear of being alone, liking yourself better when you're on the phone, a need for constant attention from others, or insecurity if you're without y our phone.

Meanwhile, you can support your effort to break a cell phone addiction by setting limits on how long you use your phone each day, by turning it off at certain times, such as between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m., or even by purchasing prepaid minutes so you're not tempted to go overboard.