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Treatment For Video Game Addiction

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Therapists scramble to determine best treatment for video game addiction

An addiction doesnt only affect the person with the condition. It affects those around them as well. Your mental, emotional, and physical health can suffer as you devote more time and attention to your loved one. And, when youre drained, you wont be able to care for them.

Take time out of your day to practice self-care. That means doing any healthy activity that refreshes your spirit and recharges your batteries, like:

  • Preparing and eating a healthy meal

  • Going for a walk

  • Watching a favorite movie or listening to music you love

  • Taking a long bath or shower

Consider seeking out therapy or a support group for yourself. Support groups can connect you to other people impacted by addiction. Some options include:

Why Is Video Game Addiction Controversial

Since there is at least one gamer in 75% of American households, most people probably know at least one person who plays video games regularly. Few people would deny that someone could play videos games too often, and its easy to say that someone is addicted when they really just need to take a break. So is video game addiction even possible?

Currently, there is no scientific consensus on when video game overuse becomes an addiction . For this reason, the American Psychiatric Association has classified Internet Gaming Disorder as an unverified potential diagnosis which requires further review. A 2017 study in the Associations official journal left open the possibility that the classification could one day change. However, it also stated that there is not enough research right now to confirm definitively that overusing video games is an addiction according to the APAs definition. The APA defines addiction as a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences. This definition effectively excludes the possibility of any behavioral addictions.

Another source of scientific skepticism is the fact that only a very small portion of gamers ever exhibit any signs of a disorder, especially the specific symptoms of withdrawal and tolerance. For this reason, some scientists and researchers believe that video game overuse is a just habit or a symptom of another disorder and not an addiction in and of itself.

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Some experts warn that excessive gaming can even be fatal. A tech-addiction expert in Seattle said she has known of people who have died from heart attacks and blood clots, both results of the unhealthy lifestyle many extreme gamers live.

The warning signs of video game addiction include:

  • Gaming to escape difficult life situations
  • Playing for longer periods as time goes on
  • Skipping showers and meals to play
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Lying to others to hide gaming activities
  • Exhibiting signs of irritation when forced to stop gaming

Although the American Psychological Association has not yet classified video game addiction as a mental illness, many experts contend that the signs and symptoms of the problem are similar to those of compulsive disorders such as gambling and sex addiction.

If you or someone you care about needs help dealing with a video game addiction, call us at today.

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What Happens During Video Gaming

Just as theres no indisputable source for many process addictions, or a single cause that can be identified that results in addiction, more remains to be understood about what causes addiction to computer games or video game addiction problems. What we do know, however, is that playing video games is such an immersive experience that it may trigger massive dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical and neurotransmitter responsible for mood elevation. Dopamine also produces an energy rush, not unlike the bursts of energy and euphoric state created during substance abuse involving drugs or alcohol.

Unrelenting exposure to such stimulation can result in structural brain changes. For example, you may find that you no longer feel pleasure doing everyday things, or that only gaming is exciting and every other activity is boring. Changes to the frontal cortex caused by excessive video gaming may erode your willpower.

Therapies For Video Game Addicts

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Research on treatment for video game addiction is ongoing, but few clinical trials have been conducted in relation to the problem. Experts agree that the same treatments used for sufferers of other addictions appear to work for video game addicts. As a result, they generally recommend counseling and psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-step programs and medication, either individually or in combination with other treatment methods.

One-on-one counseling and family counseling are both effective in treating a gaming addict. Psychotherapists attempt to help the addict understand how gaming is related to their school or job, emotions and moods, and sense of life goals and rewards.

Where 12-step programs are concerned, the primary resource available is Online Gamers Anonymous, a non-profit organization founded in 2002.

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Debates On The Classification

A meta-analytic review of pathological gaming studies concluded that about 3% of gamers may experience some symptoms of pathological gaming. The report noted problems in the field with defining and measuring pathological gaming and concluded that pathological gaming behaviors were more likely the product of underlying mental health problems rather than the inverse.

Barnett and Coulson expressed concern that much of the debate on the issue of addiction may be a knee jerk response stimulated by poor understanding of games and game players. Such issues may lead both society and scholars to exaggerate the prevalence and nature of problematic gaming, and over-focus on games specifically, while ignoring underlying mental health issues. However, Problem gamblers have a higher chance for getting mental illness as well.

Other scholars have cautioned that comparing the symptoms of problematic gaming with problematic gambling is flawed, and that such comparisons may introduce research artifacts and artificially inflate prevalence estimates. For instance, Richard Wood has observed that behaviors which are problematic in regards to gambling may not be as problematic when put into the context of other behaviors that are rewarding such as gaming. Similarly, Barnett and Coulson have cautioned that discussions of problematic gaming have moved forward prematurely without proper understanding of the symptoms, proper assessment and consequences.

Is There A Cure For Video Game Addiction

Treatment for video game addiction is similar to that for other addictions. Counseling and behavior modification are the primary means of treating addicted gamers. Together, individual and family counseling are powerful treatment tools. Some treatment facilities incorporate medication in their programs.

However, unlike drugs or alcohol, video games are tied to computers, which are a key part of life for most people. In that way, the addiction is similar to a food addiction. As a result, some treatment centers explore controlled use rather than abstinence.

No overall cure for video game addiction exists. As with alcoholism and drug addiction, the key is to enter treatment and to stay aware of triggers while continuing to participate in recovery groups, such as Online Gamers Anonymous.

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Types Of Video Game Addictions

Video games can be played in a variety of formats and on various devices. People who develop problematic gaming behaviors may become attached to one or multiple devices.

Types of video game use include:

  • handheld gaming devices

There are also various types of games: skill-based, puzzles, role-play, problem-solving, and educational games.

What can distinguish video game use from an addiction is the extent to which it interferes with a persons daily life, emotional health, and relationships with others.

Find the right treatment program today.

How Is Video Game Addiction Treated

Inside a treatment center for video game addiction

The main treatment option for video game addiction is talk therapy .

Psychotherapy is a term for a variety of treatment techniques that aim to help you identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Working with a mental health professional can provide support, education and guidance to you and your family.

Specific types of psychotherapy that may benefit someone with video game addiction include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy : This is a structured, goal-oriented type of therapy. A therapist or psychologist helps you take a close look at your thoughts and emotions. Youll come to understand how your thoughts affect your actions. Through CBT for video game addiction, you can unlearn negative and obsessive thoughts and behaviors and learn to adopt healthier thinking patterns and habits.
  • Group therapy: This is a type of psychotherapy in which a group of people meets to describe and discuss their problems together under the supervision of a therapist or psychologist. Group therapy is a valuable source of motivation and moral support for people who have video game addiction, especially if theyve lost contact with friends or peers as a result of their video game addiction.
  • Family or marriage counseling: This type of therapy can help educate loved ones about the disorder and create a more stable home environment.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment

Many experts recommend cognitive behavioral therapy as the ideal treatment for video game addiction. The therapy allows the addict to shift their thoughts, replacing those that lead to compulsive gaming with healthier thinking patterns. As its name implies, cognitive behavioral therapy allows a person to modify their thoughts, feelings and ultimately behavior for the better.

Therapists consider addiction a belief or way of thinking that leads to irrational, often unhealthy behaviors. They start treatment by identifying and focusing on the thoughts that start the chain of addiction and help the addict begin their transition from there.

Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques include setting goals and then learning to overcome the thinking that sparks compulsive gaming.

How Common Is Video Game Addiction

One large-scale study concluded that 1.4 percent of video gamers may have an addiction. Other studies, conducted in various parts of the world and with various age groups and assessment criteria, have revealed prevalences of addiction among gamers ranging from 0.6 percent to 6 percent. Across all of these studies, what is clear is that the vast majority of video gamers do not have an addiction.

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Why Growing Old Is One Of The Best Things That Can Happen To You

If you got between 2 and 3 correct answers: You are showing signs of being addicted to video games. You should start to cut back to get it in check.

If you got 4 correct answers: You show some signs of being addicted to video games, but you keep it in check.

If you got 5 correct answers: You arenât addicted to video games.

The Addiction Treatment Process

Video Game Addiction Treatment Levels Up in the United States â Rehab ...

Treatment for addiction typically starts with a detox period to eliminating the substance of abuse from the patients body. Some substances can lead to dependence when abused, so those patients must also go through withdrawal. Medications may be prescribed by the treatment clinicians to help make patients as comfortable as possible during this time. The bulk of addiction treatment is in therapy and practicing certain life skills.

Through therapy, addicts can identify their triggers to use drugs or alcohol and come up with plans to avoid those triggers or react in a new way when triggers are unavoidable. Rehab counselors can also help patients address any underlying mental health issues that may be uncovered during this process.

After patients successfully complete an inpatient rehabilitation program, they may be transferred to outpatient treatment and/or a sober living home as a step-down option. During outpatient care, patients can work with their counselors and medical staff to develop an aftercare program that will help them stay sober.

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What Can You Do

As your child grows, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work as well. Not all kids are the same when it comes to screens and technology. Some children can self-regulate and might even put the screens down to go outside without you prompting them. Other kids become noticeably more anxious and quicker to lose their tempers when they spend a lot of time on screens. You’ll need to decide how much media to let your child use each day and what’s appropriate.

Consider applying the same rules to your child’s real and virtual environments. In both, play with your child, teach kindness, be involved, and know who your child’s friends and what your child does with them. Also, keep in mind that the quality of the media your child is exposed to is more important than the type of technology or amount of time spent. Encourage active screen time over passive screen time.

Active screen time is when you are interacting with other people that you know or when you are cognitively or physically engaged. For example, play educational games, or games that require players to build something together. Other options are fitness-type games that require movement while playing. Passive screen time includes watching screens with minimal cognitive engagement, such as scrolling through social media, watching online videos or playing simple games.

Set reasonable limits for your child’s screen time and video game types, especially if your child’s use of screens hinders involvement in other activities.

Are Long Gaming Sessions An Indicator Of Addiction

Not necessarily. Video games are designed to challenge and stimulate players and tens of millions of Americans regularly enjoy the escape that they offer. Addiction involves sustained patterns of play that interfere with daily life and, therefore, occasional long gaming sessions donât act as definitive proof of a behavioral issue.

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What Is Classified As A Gaming Addiction

Most people play a video game or an online game as a pastime. Mild gaming is hardly a cause for alarm. It often doesnt prevent you from visiting friends, exercising, or having your other hobbies.

However, the bed is often not all rosy for everyone. Excessive gaming can be addictive and can become unhealthy and affect your routine in a very damaging manner.

People suffering from gaming addiction typically show symptoms similar to those of alcohol or drugs. Behaviors that classify as a gaming addiction include:

Constant and overwhelming urge to play the game

Feeling moody or irritable when not playing.

Overplayinggaming takes precedence over anything else in your life


Lose of interest in meeting friends or enjoying other hobbies

Inability or not willing to work or go to school so you can get time to play the game

Gaming to relieve stress

Signs And Symptoms Of Video Game Addiction

Treatment for video game addiction

Signs of a video game addiction are likened to those of other behavioral addictions, including internet addiction, cell phone addiction, and social media addiction.

Signs and symptoms of problematic gaming may include:

  • isolating from friends and family in order to game
  • spending the majority of time gaming, planning to game, or thinking about video games
  • neglecting personal hygiene in order to continue gaming
  • forgetting to eat or drink enough water due to excessive gaming
  • unsuccessfully trying to limit or reduce gaming activity
  • neglecting work or school to play video games
  • frequently using video games to escape from reality
  • becoming irritable, angry, or restless when unable to play video games
  • experiencing significant distress or impairment as a result of gaming

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Effective Video Game Addiction Treatments

There are some concrete steps you can take to control your gaming habit:

Learn about Competing Interests

The first thing to understand is that you canât overcome addiction without a competing interest.

For most people with video game addiction, gaming serves an essential purpose in their life. It helps them manage stress, decompress, and cope with their negative emotions.

A competing interest is something that you care about and want to do, that is not related to gaming. Even though wanting to get a job, move out of your parentâs house, and move forward in life are admirable goals, they are not competing interests.

While they are things that you want, they donât drive you to change your behavior â they are just desires. Desires and motivators are very different things.

A competing interest puts a cost on your gaming. Every minute you spend gaming is a minute not spent working on your competing interest. Itâs hard to stop gaming because you do not lose anything you care about by playing video games. A competing interest solves this problem and is probably the most effective video game addiction treatment.

The simplest way to find a competing interest is to perform the following activity:

  • Take a pen and a piece of paper and sit down.
  • Write 500 words about a time when you felt fulfilled.

Donât fall into the trap that most gamers fall into, thinking, âI donât need to do this exercise. I can just think it through in my head.â You canât do that.

Video Game Addiction Overview

Studies commenced as far back as 1983, although the methods used were less empirical than desirable for scientific inquiry. More recently, research into this compulsive disorder has yielded results. 20 odd years of research culminated in the addiction being officially recognized by the American Psychiatry Association as a condition that should be addressed by researchers and clinicians.

It has since been included in the updated version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders for the first time in the same category where other disorders like gambling addiction can also be found. Video game addiction is officially termed as Internet gaming disorder.

The definition of this addiction offered in the manual is:

“persistent and recurrent use of the Internet to engage in games, often with other players, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as indicated by five in 12 months.”

Gaming addiction has been officially pronounced as a disorder by the World Health Organization. The organization included Gaming Disorder in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases and officially recognized it as a diagnosis code.

Also, a study has been carried out where some criteria for the diagnosis of Internet Gaming Disorder were met, proving the fact that this condition is a real addiction that one can experience.

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