We all know the cliché of someone who practically turns into a zombie playing video games, while playing for hours and hours on end. But just because someone loves to play video games, and can spend hours on end playing them, does that mean they need help with video game addiction?
For many, the idea of being addicted to video games isn’t an easy concept to get their heads around. In fact, when you Google the term gaming addiction, you often find online debates about whether it is indeed a real thing, and people who will scoff at the idea that gaming addiction could be a serious problem.
Games are designed to keep you playing for long periods of time, and keep you coming back for more in order to better your score. While there are certainly positive aspects to video games, such as improving your hand-eye coordination, some feel that the same element that keeps you playing video games is also a component in gambling addiction, where you keep coming back hoping to make more money and beat the house. Many games have a pay-to-win structures that fosters the need to do better next time in order to avoid further financial loss.
In some countries, gaming addiction is being treated as a serious problem. CNN reported that in South Korea, 8% of the country’s population from 9 to 39 have internet or gaming addiction, The article continues, saying “Some see South Korea as a window into the future; perhaps other nations, including the United States, will see a wave of gaming and internet addiction when our technological infrastructure catches up. Others say it’s too soon to know if gaming addiction is really its own disorder.”
Yet according to PyschGuides.com, gaming addiction is not yet considered or recognized as “a diagnosable disorder” in many corners. However, studies claim that 6 to 15% of gamers “exhibit signs that could be characterized as addiction.”
One treatment center in the Netherlands has a detox for gaming. There is also the Center for On-Line Addiction, where Kimberly Young, the clinical director, told Web MD, “I’ve had many parents call me over the last year or two, particularly about the role playing games online. I see it getting worse as the opportunity to game grows – for example, cell phone gaming.” Young argued that gaming can truly be classified as an addiction because “it’s a clinical impulse control disorder.”
What can also give more credence to video game addiction being a serious problem with some people is that similar to taking drugs, gaming can raise your dopamine levels, and many use it as an escape when life gets bad. Parents have also spoken about their children going through withdrawal when they cut their children off from gaming, and some children can become angry, depressed, even violent when they can’t play games, although thankfully it doesn’t have the physical withdrawal that comes with some addictions.
The 12-steps can be utilized to treat gaming addiction, and there’s also medication that can help as well. The site addictionblog.org reports that bupropion, an anti-depressant that has been used to help people quit smoking, can be utilized in cases of gaming addiction as well.
Here at Ascend Healthcare’s teen treatment center, video game addiction is treated similarly to other addictions and process disorders. The addictive substance or process is removed and clients explore what feelings lie beneath, which they are frequently numbing out. The goal is to understand what the teen is avoiding.
Some of our initial steps for treating avoidant personalities mired in video game addiction are:
- We identify issues in the adolescent’s life causing discomfort and pain.
- We explore what are teens avoiding by participating in gaming and avoiding school and/or real life responsibilities.
- We explore any underlying and fueling anxiety or depression.
- We examine what is soothing about the process of gaming.
- We take gaming away and look at what is left.
- We observe social interactions in the absence of gaming.
- We teach and encourage social skills development.
- We use mindfulness to help teenagers tune into their body/mind and what is going on inside. We help them deal with what is happening as opposed to avoiding it with constant distraction.
- We work on family issues and how to create safe boundaries with any device used within a home.
- We set reasonable time limits and grant access when it is earned.
- We teach these healthy boundaries to the entire family and ingrain them into the family structure.
If you or a loved on you know struggles with video game addiction, help is available. Call our admissions hotline to speak with someone that can assess your situation and get you or your loved one the help that they may need.