Video Game Addiction Treatment for Adults

Options for Video Game Addiction Treatment for Adults

For the past few decades, video gaming has slowly but surely increased in sophistication, and thus, popularity.  Back in the 1970s, video games were simple games played solo at arcades, such as Pac-Man, Asteroids, and Pong.  In the 1980s, interactive games played online with other players emerged, with Halo being the premier game in that era.

Recent gaming innovations have catapulted the gaming industry into a 75 billion dollar industry, according to  Headed by popular games like World of Warcraft, Dota, League of Legends, and Hearthstone, video games feature elaborate fantasy storylines that allow players to inhabit as characters in the game.  Games can now be played on smartphones, tablets, or a personal computer, and streamed to televisions.  So seductive are the graphics, role-playing, and competitive aspects of the virtual world created in the games that some people can become addicted to gaming.

Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

Compulsive gaming shares similar characteristics with gambling addiction, both providing the release of dopamine when playing and winning.  Dopamine is a brain chemical that can elevate mood and energy levels, prompting the individual to desire the effects again and again.  At the very least, video gaming that becomes compulsive can be thought of as an impulse control disorder, where players cannot control their level of gaming activity.

A study of 1,178 youths out of Iowa State University published on reports that 8.5% of video gamers are pathological players.  The term “pathological” in this sense is used to describe behaviors that negatively impact such aspects as family, social, school, or mental health.  Symptoms of adult video game addiction include:

  • Irritability and restlessness when unable to play
  • Lying about the amount of time spent playing
  • Preoccupied with thoughts of games played or anticipated gaming
  • Isolating behaviors due to excessive playing
  • Developing a sedentary lifestyle
  • Missing out on family or social events in lieu of playing
  • Development of carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Negative consequences for work due to excessive gaming cutting into productivity
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Migraines
  • Eye strain
  • Fatigue

Adverse Effects of Video Game Addiction

Designers of video games are shrewd, understanding that financial reward for their innovations are dependent on increasing engagement in the games by ever increasing numbers of players.  The games are designed to be just challenging enough that players will remain engaged, attempting to gain high scores and ultimately win.  The games are designed to provide the ABCs of basic human needs: Autonomy, Belonging, and Competence, keeping a constant stream of hope for the anticipated reward that is just around the next corner or on the next level.

The lure of winning and conquering, of becoming competent at a game can result in compulsive gaming.  When a player becomes addicted to video games, their entire world revolves around playing time.  They will trade off time with friends and family, miss important work events, and become socially isolated in their fantasy world.  Their social scene becomes enmeshed with the people (characters) also playing the online game.

Compulsive gaming can exact a high price, including deteriorating health, depression, and sleep deprivation.  Ultimately, depression and substance abuse may become co-occurring disorders with the gaming addiction, resulting from a decline in general well-being due to the consequences of the disorder.

Video Game Addiction Treatment for Adults

Treating compulsive video gaming is similar to treating other types of addictive behaviors, and relies mostly on psychotherapy in either an inpatient or outpatient setting.  Psychodynamic therapy can help the individual identify the driving factors behind their desire to spend so much time in social isolation.  The individual may suffer from social anxiety and gaming provides a sort of detached, fantasy-based social scene that feels safe.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help the compulsive gamer learn to control the impulse control issues related to the disorder.  The irrational or dysfunctional though patterns that lead to the compulsive gaming can be reshaped and modified, leading to healthier thinking patterns and behavioral responses.

There is also a 12-step group called Online Gamers Anonymous that can provide a peer support environment.

The Treatment Specialist Locates Video Game Addiction Treatment for Adults

The Treatment Specialist is an addiction and mental health network of treatment providers that offers free assistance in locating the best programs for video gaming addiction.  In addition to the free treatment locator service, The Treatment Specialist will do a free insurance benefit review to provide your health plan’s coverage for inpatient or outpatient video gaming treatment.  For more information, please contact The Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.

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