Since their creation back in the early 1970’s, video games have captured the attention, and quarters back then, of millions of people. Today the video game industry is a multi-billion dollar a year entity, with massive conventions for publishers and electronics, stores devoted just to them, and even competitive leagues with championships and prizes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There is also the other side of video games. They become a massive amount of time spent on the electronic world, ignoring everything in the physical, or real world. People, adults and kids alike, are turning to them more and more as an activity, or an escape from the pressures of the world. Any time someone starts using a tool, behaviour, or medication to escape from struggles, the risk for addiction is there. Gaming addiction is becoming more and more of a recognised phenomenon in mental health, and treatment is available.
Video game addiction comes as a compulsive behaviour, in some ways like gambling addiction, although the reward of money is not there. It is this repetitive behaviour that a person does that stimulates certain parts of their brain, giving them an internal reward. This reward of neurochemicals may be strong enough that it overcomes other problems or negative feelings they have. It makes sense then that this becomes their main method of coping, and soon, after having used video games as an escape long enough, it becomes necessary to function, and then an addiction develops.
Now officially recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), gaming addiction is a behavioural addiction referring to a pattern of frequent and persistent gaming, despite the negative consequences that this causes, including relationship, financial or work-based problems
When looking out for signs and symptoms of gaming addiction in others, or even within yourself, it is important not to confuse enthusiasm for gaming with an addiction that is having a negative effect on other areas of your life. An addiction could be represented by; spending more and more time gaming at the expense of relationships with friends and family and social functions. Often it is the social responsibilities that are the first to be cut when there is an addiction, and gaming is no different, The person with the addiction does not want to take away from their main relationship with the addiction.
Second, they will neglect other areas of their life for gaming. A person with an addiction will start neglecting important life areas for their addiction, gaming included and will start missing work, or doing poorly in school. They are sacrificing time, energy, even sleep for gaming. They may try to stop, but find themselves unable to, and the compulsion to play can be very strong at times.
Lastly, they will lose interest in all other activities, including things that they found fun or pleasurable before they began gaming. They will play games for 8 or more hours at a time and give up almost everything else in their lives for gaming. This can often come with emotional problems, like anxiety or aggressive outbursts, sleeplessness, and shame and embarrassment.
Treatment options for gaming addiction look very similar to those of any other addiction. The addiction and any underlying causes will be treated together, with the help of therapists, and ongoing counselling and support.
Cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be very useful in treating addiction. This helps identify the unhealthy thought patterns that a person has that likely enabled the addiction to begin with. This form of therapy teaches a person ways to change the ways they view the world and appraise things, and thus changes how they feel. An improved mood and more realistic view of the world is extremely helpful in recovering from an addiction.
Individual and group therapy are a part of treatment as well. It is often the case that a person with an addiction is using it as a tool to cope with another issue. This could be a physical or mental health problem or family or relationship issues. Whatever the cause, the addiction is often secondary, and the underlying issue needs to be treated as well.
Family therapy and support groups can also be useful in recovery from gaming addiction. The support that others can provide, especially those that are dealing with, or have dealt with, the same issues is invaluable. They can provide the resources needed to help a person continue their recovery and prevent relapse.
Gaming addiction is a newer phenomenon, but it follows a very old pattern. A person with an addiction becomes set in using that one thing as a means to cope with every problem that life has. This is good for the short-term, but long-term this becomes a much larger problem and an addiction that can cost a person friends, family, health and employment. This does not have to be the end, however. Gaming addiction is treatable, and with the right therapy, you or your loved one can overcome it.
Thankfully, there are many counsellors and therapists with expertise in helping those with gaming addictions to overcome their illnesses. If you or someone you love is struggling because of an addiction to gaming, contact us here at Rehab Guide for advice and support on how to tackle the problem. We are here to help and are waiting to hear from you.