- Video Game Addiction Treatment Program Options
- What Causes Video Game Addictions?
- Is There a Cure for Video Game Addiction?
- Therapies for Video Game Addicts
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment
- Other Therapeutic Methods
- Residential Inpatient Gaming Addiction Treatment Centers
- The Benefits of Residential Video Game Addiction Treatments
- Luxury Video Game Addiction Facilities
- Executive Video Game Addiction Programs
- Outpatient Video Game Rehab and Treatment Programs
- Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
- How to Find the Best Video Game Addiction Treatment Facility
- Coping with Video Game Addiction
- Related Articles
- Video Game Addiction
- Video Game Addiction Symptoms and Treatment
- When Gaming Becomes an Addiction
- Popular Beliefs About Video Games
- Health Risks and Concerns
- Seeking Help and Treatment
- Finding Help
Video Game Addiction Treatment Program Options
As with gambling addiction, video game addiction is a clinical impulse control disorder.
According to psychiatrist Michael Brody, MD, the criteria for video game addiction is the same as that for addiction to a substance.
In both cases, the person requires more of the source as time goes on and becomes irritable and despondent when they cannot access it. In fact, video game addicts can even experience withdrawal symptoms.
Another clue that a person is addicted to video games, according to researchers at Kansas State University, is that they may play video games to alter their mood.
While the harm in addictions to substances is apparent in physical symptoms, it is often less clear with video game addiction. However, video game addiction can negatively affect a life in the same way a substance addiction can.
Those who play for hours each day become withdrawn and isolated, foregoing work, school and other responsibilities to play.
Younger addicts often miss out on critical education and important social development, while adults tend to experience deteriorating relationships and problems with their employers.
The physical effects of video game addiction include poor personal hygiene, hormonal disturbances from sleep deprivation, and what the American Physical Therapy Association refers to as video gamer’s thumb, a repetitive use injury characterized by tendonitis and swelling. Many addicted gamers gain weight as a result of their sedentary lifestyles and tendency to reach for high-calorie processed foods and beverages.
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.
What Causes Video Game Addictions?
Researchers are not certain what causes video game addiction; however, some experts believe that elevated dopamine levels contribute heavily to the problem. The neurotransmitter dopamine works in the brain’s reward center. It is released during activities most people find pleasurable, including eating and consuming certain drugs.
Therapists view all addictions as functioning essentially the same way. In the case of non-substance addictions, such as those to sex, gambling and gaming, the behavior takes the place of a substance. The action of playing generates a feeling of pleasure, which ensures the addict will repeat the action as often as possible.
In a report published by CBC News in April 2013, a gaming addiction expert said those with certain personality disorders or disabilities are at greater risk than others. She noted that people who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Asperger’s are particularly susceptible to gaming addiction.
Those who study video game addiction also believe that the problem has a psychological component. They contend that compulsive gamers retreat to a fantasy world to escape their real-life troubles and unpleasant emotions. According to a recent report, 41 percent of those who play online video games indicated they game to escape from reality.
Staff at treatment centers designed to help video game addicts understand the underlying causes of the problem and are equipped to help. Call us at to learn how we can help you or your loved one overcome this addiction.
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, un 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.
Therapies for Video Game Addicts
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.
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.
Other Therapeutic Methods
Wilderness therapy is an alternative treatment for video game addiction.
Proponents of the method contend that by removing the addict from the source of the addiction, the therapy offers the best chance of recovering.
They also believe that placing addicts in a natural environment, free of the trappings and distractions of modern life, allows them to learn to be comfortable with their own emotions.
Residential Inpatient Gaming Addiction Treatment Centers
Inpatient treatment for addicted gamers is best for those who need to leave their environment altogether for a time in order to heal. Such treatment centers offer group therapy, individual counseling and a game-free atmosphere.
Some inpatient facilities offer private rooms, while some offer dorm- accommodations. All these programs are designed to make the patient feel safe, comfortable and supported as they embark on a healing journey.
Once an addict has allowed their life opportunities to diminish by withdrawing entirely into the addiction, they have few options for overcoming the dependency on their own. This is where inpatient treatment facilities are a tremendous help. They help patients relearn healthy coping skills in a contained environment.
For help in selecting a treatment center, call . We are available 24/7 to help you find the facility you need.
The Benefits of Residential Video Game Addiction Treatments
Residential, or inpatient, video game treatment centers offer the patient ample time to recover from the addiction. Some people only require a 30-day stay, while others benefit from a minimum of 60 days at such a center.
In addition, residential treatment centers protect each patient’s privacy while helping them to become equipped for an addiction-free life. Many centers offer flexible payment plans, while most accept insurance.
Luxury Video Game Addiction Facilities
If you are interested in an inpatient treatment center with amenities, you can find what you want at a luxury video game addiction facility. Such centers offer everything from massage therapy to gourmet meals. Many find that the luxuries offered at these facilities make recovery more comfortable, ensuring the individual stays in treatment for longer.
Executive Video Game Addiction Programs
Those who have hesitated to seek treatment for their gaming addictions owing to responsibilities at work might be good candidates for executive video game addiction programs. These inpatient centers offer limited access to computers and mobile phones to permit business executives to stay in touch with the office while undergoing treatment.
Outpatient Video Game Rehab and Treatment Programs
Outpatient video game rehabilitation programs share many of the traits of inpatient programs, minus the overnight accommodations. Outpatient programs offer significantly more freedom for the patient, who, at the end of each session, is allowed to return home.
Such a structure permits patients to maintain commitments to work, school, friends and family.
Another benefit of an outpatient program is that the patient can enjoy a support network without needing to reveal to coworkers or fellow students that they are undergoing treatment for an addiction.
Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
Although clinical trials are in the early stages, there is some indication that certain medications help video game addicts by altering their brain chemistry to reduce the urge to play.
Buproprion, in particular, has appeared to offer help to some addicts by inhibiting norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake.
A six-week trial showed that those taking the drug experienced fewer cravings to play.
Many video game addicts appear to suffer from undiagnosed depression and anxiety disorders as well. Once they receive help, often in the form of medication, for one problem, they have a better chance of overcoming their gaming addictions as well.
How to Find the Best Video Game Addiction Treatment Facility
Recent developments within the psychiatric field may mean more treatment options for addicted gamers in the near future. In May 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the official guide for those in the mental health field, included a recommendation to continue studying Internet-use disorder, which encompasses video game addiction.
The recommendation adds legitimacy to claims that video game addiction is a bona fide disorder that requires treatment. That recommendation combined with an increasing number of available statistics, such as that nearly one in every 10 gamers ages 8 to 18 is addicted to playing, should result in more options for those finding help in treating video gaming addiction.
If you are looking for a video game addiction treatment facility, we can help. Call to discuss treatment options.
Coping with Video Game Addiction
While it has long been suspected that video games can cause problems in a person’s life if they play them for too long, too often, more recent research confirms that video games do have an impact. There are things, however, that a person can do to reduce the impact of video game playing and reduce the lihood of video game addiction seriously impacting a person’s life.
If you feel you can’t part from your favorite video game or have run up huge gaming WoW bills unexpectedly, don’t worry, there are some steps you can take to bring your relationship with video games back down to earth.
1. Track your video game use. Yes, it’s a pain to do, but the more you keep track of the time you spend playing video games, the better you’ll be able to control it.
Jot down in a notepad when you start and stop game play.
Keep the journal for a week’s time, then review the amounts of time you’re spending on each game, or if it’s just one game, the activities that keep you in-game for so long.
2. Start the weaning. Now that you know you’re spending 20 hours a week on game play, it’s time to start cutting back. Take it slow and start with the least important game or activity in a game.
Commit to reducing the time spent on that game or activity just 10% the first week. So if you’re spending 10 hours a week on planning for battles, aim for 9 hours the next week.
That means being more conscious each time you’re in-game doing that activity, and trying to cut things short sooner rather than later.
3. Commit to being in the moment. One of the reasons people enjoy playing video games as much as they do is because it is very rewarding and often, fun. Most modern video games also offer a level of social interactivity with other players in the game, which is also rewarding.
The key here is to prioritize what’s important in your life. If it’s more important for you to spend time with your online friends that your IRL friends or significant other, that’s your choice.
But don’t expect your significant other to still be there when you decide you have time for him or her.
It is a choice you make every time you pick up the control or sit at the keyboard, and it is one you have to become more conscious of in order to change that choice to one that can accommodate both in your life. Living life in the moment means, first of all, to live life outside of a screen.
4. You don’t need that kind of connection. So many people spend so much time online or in playing video games because they believe it is a necessary part of their connections with others, or with their ability to move forward in the game.
For what purpose? If you need such hyperactive connectivity, that suggests something isn’t entirely healthy with some of those relationships to begin with. Or that the game was designed to only reward spending massive amounts of time playing it. Great for the game developers or publishers, who are enjoying your money. Not so great for you.
While it’s fun for a time, it’s not going to lead to a higher-quality relationship or a better, more enjoyable life (especially if it’s creating anxiety and problems in your existing life).
5. Turn it off. Yes, that’s right. Turn it off. There’s no easier way to deal with video game addiction than to simply turn off the console or the computer and go out and do something different.
By turning it off, you’re taking back conscious control of your life and this little piece of technology. Instead of it calling to you, you’re telling it, “Hey, I’ve had enough for one day. Seeya in the morning.
” Set a deadline every evening for a time to retire game playing, and then don’t check or play it again until the next morning.
6. Technology works for us, not the other way around. If technology is taking control of your life — creating stress, anxiety, arguments with other people in your life, or financial hardships — then you have a backwards relationship with technology. Technology — including video games — works for us.
If it’s not working for you, you’re chosen to be on the losing side of the relationship, and it’s time to put a stake in the ground and take responsibility and control for your use of the technology. Set aside specific times of the day or evening you will play your favorite video game, for instance, rather than doing so every spare moment you get.
Instead of playing video games being the default thing you do, change the default to “living my life.”
Video game addiction doesn’t have to ruin your life, your work, or your relationships with others.
If these tips still don’t help, it might be a sign that your video game addiction is more of an issue in your life than you realized.
A psychotherapist who has experience in treating addictions can often help in such a case, and it is a treatment you should explore if you can’t reduce video game playing on your own.
Coping with Video Game Addiction
Video Game Addiction
- Signs to Watch For
- Getting Help
- Preventing a Gaming Problem
It’s great to do things you enjoy. But can you go too far with a hobby? And at what point does it become an addiction? That’s the question experts are trying to answer about playing video games.
Even though gaming has been around for almost 50 years, studies about its harms are still in the early stages. Different groups have come to different conclusions about whether problem playing should be called an addiction.
The World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to the 2018 version of its medical reference book, International Classification of Diseases. But the American Psychiatry Association’s manual, the DSM-5, didn’t. (So far, gambling is the only “activity” listed as a possible addiction.)
The DSM-5 does include a section to help people and doctors know the warning signs of problem video gaming. These problems can happen whether you play online or offline.
Here’s what to look for in yourself or someone close to you — your partner, a child, or a friend. You need to have five or more of these signs in 1 year to have a problem, according to criteria that were proposed in the DSM-5:
- Thinking about gaming all or a lot of the time
- Feeling bad when you can’t play
- Needing to spend more and more time playing to feel good
- Not being able to quit or even play less
- Not wanting to do other things that you used to
- Having problems at work, school, or home because of your gaming
- Playing despite these problems
- Lying to people close to you about how much time you spend playing
- Using gaming to ease bad moods and feelings
Of course, not everyone who plays a lot has a problem with gaming. Some experts say that it’s harmful to label people who might just be very enthusiastic about gaming.
One thing they do agree on is that the percentage of players who meet the proposed criteria for addiction to video games is small. It’s estimated to be somewhere between 1% and 9% of all gamers, adults and kids a.
(It’s more common in boys and men than girls and women.)
It may help to start by asking yourself a few questions: Does your video gaming get in the way of other important things in your life, your relationships, your job, or going to school? Do you feel you’ve crossed the line between loving to playing and having to play? Might you be using gaming to avoid a deeper problem, depression?
It can be hard to see a problem in yourself. The amount of time you spend gaming might seem fine to you. But if people close to you say it’s too much, it might be time to think about cutting back.
If you’re a parent who’s concerned about the amount of time your child spends gaming, look at how well he or she is doing at school and with friends. Having good grades and a good relationship with parents are signs that a child’s video gaming is unly to be a problem.
Get help from your doctor or therapist — or your child’s pediatrician, if the person you’re concerned about is your son or daughter — as soon as you think that gaming time is getting hand.
Studies about treating video game addiction are also in the early stages. One therapy that can help is called CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy. This is mental health counseling that teaches you how to replace thoughts about gaming to help change behavior.
If you’re the parent of a gamer, a therapist can show you how to place limits on your child’s playing time if you have a hard time saying no. One study found that making parents part of a child’s treatment makes it work better.
To keep the amount of time spent gaming under control, try these tips for adults and kids a:
- Set time limits for play and stick to them.
- Keep phones and other gadgets the bedroom so you won’t play into the night.
- Do other activities every day, including exercise. This will lower the health risks of sitting and playing for long stretches of time.
No one knows whether certain kinds of games are more ly to lead to problem gaming. For the time being, make sure that your child is only playing games rated for their age.
© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Video Game Addiction Symptoms and Treatment
Video games have captured the imagination of Americans since the 1970s, with the introduction of very simple games.
Although the graphic features of these basic programs were primitive compared to today’s complex, multifaceted games, many children, teens, and adults quickly became enthralled with this new pastime.
It soon became apparent that video games had the potential to consume a large amount of time as the players tried repeatedly to win. Today, video game addiction has been recognized as a process addiction similar to compulsive gambling, in which the rush of winning becomes one of the primary motivations for playing.
In the early days of video games, most games were available only on arcade machines, which were not accessible 24 hours a day. These days, games are one of the most popular features of social network sites, and they can be played almost continuously on handheld game devices, personal computers, or smart phones.
Video games have become much more elaborate, with rich alternate worlds, multiple characters, and complicated storylines.
Introverted children or teens may find that they can avoid interacting with “real”peers by engaging primarily with other online players, in the guise of characters with awe-inspiring gifts and powers.
When Gaming Becomes an Addiction
Not all researchers agree that video gaming is a harmful or addictive activity. Many people, including parents, believe that video games expand the imagination, give children the opportunity to work collaboratively, and sharpen cognitive skills.
Yet when young people spend most of their time playing video games at the expense of schoolwork, physical exercise, family events, or social activities, the benefits of gaming seem less certain.
There is some controversy over whether video gaming is an addiction comparable to gambling, drug abuse, or alcoholism.d
Psychology Today states that the comparison between video gaming and gambling is flawed, because there are no financial stakes or material losses involved with video games. Winning a video game requires cognitive skills and sharp reflexes, while winning at gambling is a matter of luck.
However, according to WebMD, video game addiction can be considered a type of impulse control disorder.
The source of the addictive quality of gaming is still unknown, but researchers propose that the process of playing and winning these games may trigger a release of dopamine, a brain chemical that elevates mood and provides a rush of energy. Dopamine is the same neurotransmitter involved in other addictive activities, such as alcohol or drug abuse.
Video game addiction is not currently recognized as an addictive disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the definitive guide to psychiatric illness.
But an obsessive preoccupation with games at the expense of real-life activities or obligations shares some of the characteristics of addictive behavior.
How can a parent tell when gaming has stopped being simple entertainment and become an addiction? Here are a few of the key warning signs to watch for:
- Poor performance at school, work, or household responsibilities as a result of a preoccupation with gaming
- Neglect of other hobbies or friendships
- A decline in personal hygiene or grooming
- Inability to set limits on how much time is spent gaming
- Signs of irritability, anxiety, or anger when forced to stop gaming, even for brief periods of time
- The need to spend more time playing games or to play more intensely in order to get the same level of enjoyment
- Symptoms of physical or psychological withdrawal, such as loss of appetite, sleeplessness, agitation, or emotional outbursts if the game is taken away
- Using video games as a way to escape stressful situations at work or school, or conflicts at home
Children and teenagers aren’t the only ones who can be vulnerable to video game addiction.
Adults may also play video games for hours instead of engaging in work activities, pursuing hobbies, or devoting time to their partners or children.
When adults are no longer able to control the amount of time they spend on video games, or when their jobs or relationships begin to suffer as a result of video gaming, they may have crossed the line from recreation to addiction.
Popular Beliefs About Video Games
There are many misguided beliefs and misconceptions about video games. In some schools of thought, these computerized programs are entirely negative, promoting violence, sexism, and social isolation among young people.
Other perspectives hold that video games can be a valuable tool for education and character development, allowing children to simulate the roles of powerful heroes.
In reality, video games have both positive and negative characteristics, and the effect of playing games often depends on the player’s attitudes toward games and life in general.
Parenting Science proposes that the compelling quality of video games may not be due to an addictive response, but to a psychological phenomenon called “flow.” Flow takes place when individuals become so immersed in an activity that they lose track of time.
Any engaging activity — even work or school projects — can induce a sense of flow once a person is caught up in the process.
While there is nothing necessarily wrong with being immersed in an engaging, educational game, this process can turn into a compulsion if the user is unable to stop, and if it takes time away from other important activities or relationships.
Health Risks and Concerns
Compulsive video gaming can have negative effects on a developing mind or body. Adult players, too, may suffer from the effects of hours spent sitting on the couch or at a computer desk. Listed below are a few of the key concerns for younger players:
- Sedentary lifestyle: Hours spent sitting at a computer or in front of a device can take a toll on a young person’s body. The lack of physical exercise involved in video gaming has led to public health concerns about weight gain, poor posture, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in America’s children and teens.
- Lack of social engagement: Although video games require engaging with others in computerized environments, they don’t necessarily prepare children for the realities of socializing with their peers. Learning how to interact with others in a real-world setting is an important social skill that may be neglected by individuals who spend too much time gaming.
- Problems with concentration and attention: There is some concern that the rapid movements and fast-paced action of video games promote a loss of concentration in players. Children who spend a lot of time playing video games may become less interested in reading books, for example, which requires more focused, prolonged attention.
- Avoidance of developmental tasks: Adolescence is a time of self-discovery and personal development. In order to become mature adults who can take on the challenges of life, teenagers must learn how to confront painful emotions and awkward social experiences. When used appropriately, fantasy roleplaying video games can help children learn and apply valuable character traits that may help them in their interactions with others. But when video gaming is used as an escape mechanism, it allows children to avoid the developmental challenges of growing up.
- Increased aggression or violence: Children and teens who devote a lot of time to playing video games that focus on combat, fighting, or violence may display more signs of aggression than those who don’t play these games. Parents must be aware of the content of video games, which are subject to a rating system similar to the one applied to films. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) posts guidelines and ratings for popular games the age of the player, as well as educational resources for parents and parental game controls.
- Seizures and repetitive stress injuries: The British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an article about the risks of video gaming for players who have epilepsy or other seizure disorders. The flickering graphics, lights, and colors of video game displays may trigger seizure activity in some players. There is also evidence that compulsive game playing may lead to repetitive stress injuries of the wrists or hands.
Seeking Help and Treatment
Video games have had a tremendous impact — both positive and negative — on the cultural attitudes, psychological development, and lifestyle choices of both children and adults.
While these games can be viewed as a risk to players’ physical or emotional health, they have also been promoted as effective educational tools and have even been used for physical or cognitive rehabilitation in clinical settings.
Yet for individuals who have become caught in a cycle of compulsive gaming, video games can become destructive.The growing popularity of video games has created a new awareness of the problem of compulsive gaming, which in turn has led to the development of treatment programs for this addictive process.
Treatment for video game addiction focuses on behavioral modification therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), that guide the client away from the obsessive thought patterns and obsessive habits of addiction.
Group therapy is a valuable source of motivation and moral support, especially for individuals who have lost contact with friends or peers as a result of their game addiction. Family or marriage counseling can help educate loved ones about the disorder and create a more stable home environment.
Clients who are diagnosed with co-occurring depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or other psychiatric conditions may require medication therapy with antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. If substance abuse is a factor, the client will need medical detox followed by specialized treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.
Depending on the severity of the addictive behavior and the co-occurrence of other medical or psychiatric conditions, video game addiction may be treated on an inpatient or outpatient basis.
Inpatient facilities offer 24-hour supervision in a supportive, structured environment, which may be beneficial for individuals who haven’t been able to control their video game use.
Outpatient treatment, which includes intensive outpatient programs and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), offers more flexibility for individuals who cannot enroll in inpatient treatment due to personal responsibilities or who are very motivated to recover from addictive behavior.
Compared to other addictive disorders, video game addiction may not seem very serious; however, the parents, partners, and children of people addicted to video games can testify to the negative effects of this behavior.
other potentially positive activities, video games have their place in a healthy, well-rounded life, but when gaming begins to take precedence over school, work, or relationships, the individual needs professional help.
While American Addiction Centers does not treat video game addictions, treatment programs are now available all over the country that address this new disorder and offer hope to people seeking freedom from compulsive gaming.