Video Game Disorder and Treatment

process disorder treatment, woman smiling

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 disorder?

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 disorder, you often find online debates about whether it is indeed a real thing, and people who will scoff at the idea that a gaming disorder 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, where you keep coming back hoping to make more money and beat the house. Many games have pay-to-win structures that foster the need to do better next time in order to avoid further financial loss.

What can also give more credence to video game disorders 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 abuse disorders.

The 12-steps can be utilized to treat gaming disorders, and there’s also medication that can help as well.

Here at Ascend Healthcare’s teen treatment center, video game disorder is treated similarly to other 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 disorder are:

  1. We identify issues in the adolescent’s life causing discomfort and pain.
  2. We explore what are teens avoiding by participating in gaming and avoiding school and/or real-life responsibilities.
  3. We explore any underlying and fueling anxiety or depression.
  4. We examine what is soothing about the process of gaming.
  5. We take gaming away and look at what is left.
  6. We observe social interactions in the absence of gaming.
  7. We teach and encourage social skills development.
  8. 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.
  9. We work on family issues and how to create safe boundaries with any device used within a home.
  10. We set reasonable time limits and grant access when it is earned.
  11. We teach these healthy boundaries to the entire family and ingrain them into the family structure.

If you or a loved one you know struggles with a video game disorder, 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.