Video game usage affects the same part of the brain as drugs and alcohol, so it’s no wonder that so many people become addicted to playing video games for hours on end. The same patterns that lead to a substance addiction are the same ones that lead someone to a gaming addiction.
As is also true of drugs and alcohol, the age of first use of video games plays a big part in how the patterns develop and potentially progress into an addiction. The pleasure center of the brain responds to video games as if they are a drug, so the chance of kids and young adults developing an addiction to them is high. Many stories come out that kids, who are otherwise well-behaved, begin acting out or becoming violent when they are not allowed to play their video game, or games, of choice any longer.
Does this sound like a drug addict? Similar reaction as a heroin addict who cannot seem to find his next fix? Or even like a young child when his favorite toy gets taken away? This reaction in someone playing video games is just like an addict or alcoholic going through withdrawal from his or her drug, or drugs, of choice.
One new study has yielded results that show that playing video games can be as addictive as drugs. Games like Call of Duty are never finished, unlike arcade games and others that have a win or loss feature to them. The open-opened nature of the games can create an insatiable desire to continue playing. When the game never ends, anyone playing can find that hours have gone by in what felt like a matter of minutes.
The frequency of use, the amount of use, and the denial of the problem caused by use of video games are ways to detect an addiction. Identifying the symptoms of a problem early offers the best chance at treatment. Although video games do not cause the same internal physical damage that drugs and alcohol create, the consequences and repercussions can be just as harmful to someone’s life as injecting substances of any kind.
Generally, an addiction to anything is an indicator of deeper lying mental issues. Depression, anxiety, a learning disorder, and the inability to connect with others to form healthy interpersonal relationship can all be masked by video game addiction, drug and alcohol addiction, gambling, shopping, an eating disorder, a sex or love addiction, or an Internet addiction. Playing video games alone can be a way to escape from difficult social situations, or to avoid homework because it is too difficult to concentrate long enough to complete.
As a behavioral addiction, further research is needed to fully understand the cause, effect, and best treatment of video game addiction.
Programs to treat video game addiction focus on the underlying issues that lead to the desire to escape from, cover up, or avoid in the first place. While in treatment, an individualized treatment plan allows each client to identify any mental illness, learning disability, or another addiction that is at play.
Not all video game addicts have a diagnosable mental illness disorder, but most have an underlying psychological issue that needs to be explored.
During treatment, a video game addict learns tools for handling difficult situations that used to lead right to video game use. Triggering events can be better handled at home, at work, or at school while the person is attending treatment services. Psychological cravings will continue to occur, probably forever, and a good rehab program will help each client develop a plan for when they do. Coping skills for frustrating or emotionally complex situations gives a prior addict a chance at a life without a video game addiction.
As situations present themselves, and the person faces them head on, the newly learned tools and skills can be tried, and whether immediately successful or not, the client can discuss with his or her individual counselor, plus the fellow rehab clients and members of the sober community. Real-time processing can keep a young addict from returning to the problematic behaviors.
An intensive outpatient treatment program, like the one offered at The Control Center, gives an addict the opportunity to practice new skills while still involved in his or her everyday life. Contact the treatment team today at 877.813.2974 today to find out more!
photo credit: Rakka