Gaming Addiction

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What is Gaming Addiction?

Video games play a major role in our popular culture today. Playstation and Xbox are two of the main gaming consoles that gamers use. Some gamers play games online through gaming sites either for free or through a paid subscription. The games that are available today have a warning on them because the content is too violent and not appropriate for children under a certain age. There are video games for all interests, such as horror and first-person where the gamer is playing an actual character in the game. Video games are a money market that will not go anywhere anytime soon.

Gaming addiction is when a young person spends so much time playing video games that it interferes with his or her other tasks, such as school work, family and social life, and physical exercise. Some parents feel that gaming isn’t an addiction because it allows the child to sharpen their cognitive skills and broadens their imagination.

According to American Addiction Centers, they stated that video game addiction is similar to gambling since both causes the gamer to continue playing until he or she wins. Gambling and video games are also similar because a person has to pay to play these kinds of games. Over time, it could cause a financial problem, especially if the person is highly addicted to playing.

Addiction to gaming has always been an issue, even back in the early 1980s where researchers concluded that video game playing was an addition. Researchers lacked the standard psychometric instruments to assess gaming addiction. In the 2000s, internet gaming became much more popular and gaming addiction emerged. Studies show that teenagers in Korea are 50% affected while 0.2% are in Germany.

In a volunteer study, 41% of online gamers admitted to having a gaming addiction to escape. In the same study, 7% viewed themselves as being dependent on gaming. It has also been shown that most online gamers are older males who dissatisfied with their life and have low self-esteem.

Symptoms of Gaming Addiction

The symptoms of gaming addiction are similar to any other addiction, such as drugs, alcohol, or mental illness.  Some symptoms to look out for, especially in young children are:

  • Avoiding social and family events
  • Neglecting their schoolwork
  • Getting less physical exercise.

For older adults, some symptoms may:

  • Become violent
  • Aggressive
  • Isolated
  • Depressed
  • Neglect family and friends
  • Neglect work

Kimberly Young, PsyD, the clinical director of On-Line Addiction have seen when parents take away a child’s cell phone or computer. Some signs she noted were that the child will:

  • Get angry
  • Cry
  • Get violent
  • Depressed
  • Refuse to eat or sleep

Young, also noted some signs to look out for when a person has a gaming addiction include:

  • Lying to friends and family to hide gaming
  • Irritable when trying to cut down gaming time
  • Thinking about gaming during other activities
  • Increasing the amount of time playing games
  • Gaming to avoid real-life issues, anxiety and depression
  • Isolate themselves
  • Give up hobbies they once loved

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How Video Games Impact the Brain

While most want to believe that games don’t have an impact, it’s simply not true. Scientists have shown that video games can actually change certain regions of the brain. So far, areas that focus on visuospatial skills and those for attention are actually improved. However, it can also affect the reward system of the brain which can then lead to the addiction that so many deals with. It can actually start to create cravings in the brain for the games and that can lead to the problems faced when trying to walk away from the system.

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Co-occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders can go undetected if not treated correctly. The mental disorder can go undetected when a person is seeking treatment for their addition. When this occurs, the person’s recovery process becomes much harder. In fact, the person can relapse according to Sunshine Behavioral Health.

With video game addiction other problems can arise, such as drug and alcohol abuse and anger issues. When this occurs, a medical professional will dual diagnosis a person, so that they can treat both problems. Since addiction to gaming can cause anger, isolation, and other anxiety and depression symptoms, Sunshine Behavioral Health will give gamers the tools they need in order to handle their addiction with the use of advanced treatments.

Some signs to look for in co-occurring disorders are:

  • relying on drugs or alcohol to feel better
  • mental illness symptoms worsen
  • isolate him or herself from friends and family
  • the family history of mental illness
  • a traumatic event occurred in the past

Dual diagnosis rehab is vital in relieving a person of gaming addiction because a qualified medical professional can help the person solve the real issue behind him or her having a gaming issue in the first place. For instance, a person in a bad marriage may avoid their spouse by playing video games whenever their spouse is around. If the person’s marriage wasn’t bad, he or she may not have a gaming addiction.

Treatment for Gaming Addiction

Treatment for gaming addiction can be treated in the same way as any other addiction. At dual diagnosis rehab, a person can get treated for a number of mental illnesses, including:

  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar
  • Eating Disorder
  • Insomnia
  • ADD/ADHD

Whatever other mental illness the person has will be treated together with the addiction. In order to find out why the person is so addicted to gaming, the psychologist needs to get deep inside the person’s head to find out what is really going on. Since they have a mental illness, they may be prescribed an anti-depressant.

If the person addicted to games is also addicted to drugs. Sunshine Behavioral Health offers has treatment options available:

  • Holistic treatment
  • 12-step treatment
  • Faith-based treatment
  • Non-12-step treatment
  • SMART Recovery

 Some therapy options are:

  • One-on-one counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Life skills
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

 Not every treatment will work for the same person The gamer may not want to admit that he or she has a problem, but at rehab, the medical professional will get to know the person more to find the root cause of their addition.

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