How to Find Help Treating a Video Game Addict
Playing the occasional video game for fun is typically harmless. It is, after all, just one of many recreational activities you and your friends can enjoy together during your leisure time. Besides social entertainment, some games even come with further benefits as they can build decision-making skills, give education and help the general well-being of a person. Unfortunately, many gamers are tempted to escape reality and become so immersed in their games that they need proper treatment and care to recover from this addiction.
Understanding Video Game Addictions
In the medical world, addiction is typically associated with the abuse of substances such as drugs and alcohol. However, compulsive behaviors, which can include hardcore gaming, are also considered to be addictions. In a WebMD article, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry spokesman Dr. Michael Brody explained that in order to be considered an addict, the person must have built a strong dependence on a substance or behavior so that the failure to obtain or participate in it results to irritability and unhappiness. Just as shopping and sex are habits that can become addictive, playing video games may also become compulsive. Whenever addicted gamers are deprived of their chance to play, they are likely to exhibit anger, violence or depression.
How to Diagnose Compulsive Gaming
Due to insufficient supporting evidence and studies, video game addiction has yet to be recognized by accepted standards as a true disorder. However, even if no official diagnosis is available, video game addiction isn’t necessarily a false condition. Overuse of video games is actually similar to impulse control disorder, a condition that covers impulsive behaviors, such as pathological gambling, pyromania and kleptomania. Progress is being made to ensure that compulsive gaming is considered a legitimate disorder by entities such as the American Psychiatric Association. Once it is recognized, gaming addiction can receive the research funding and attention it deserves.
How to Recognize an Addictive Video Game Player
People with addictions to video games have been observed to demonstrate certain habits and manners that can be considered signs of addiction. Intervention and psychological aid are recommended when a player exhibits some of the following signs for a period of several months or longer:
- Playing in secret or lying about how long he or she has been playing
- Mulling over video games when engrossed in other activities
- Sacrificing time at work or school in order to play
- Using games to escape from reality
- Anxiety or depression
- Becoming alienated from friends and family
- Becoming irritated if unable to play
- Lacking enough hours of sleep
- Losing interest in other activities and hobbies
- Increasingly ignoring personal hygiene
Prolonged periods of sitting in front of the computer to play games or surf the Internet also cause detrimental effects to one’s physical health. For instance, hardcore players may suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes pain and numbness in the hands and wrists. They are also likely to experience dry eyes, headaches, back and neck aches, and a significant loss or gain in weight.
Steps You Can Take to Help Someone With a Computer or Internet Addiction
If you think someone requires immediate attention and help because of a computer or Internet addiction, you can take certain steps to help the person regain self-control. If you are an addict yourself and have decided to change for the better, acquiring help beyond your own efforts is important. Outside support can help you stop yourself from reverting to your old, harmful ways.
Talking to Someone With Video Gaming Addiction
Verbal communication is one of the best means to help an addict. By talking, you may be able to make the affected individual open up and recognize the compulsive behavior. Often, the compulsion is actually an excuse or way to be temporarily relieved from underlying issues, such as stress, anxiety and depression. By finding out what’s really causing the video gaming addiction, you can help direct the person to the right treatment and support groups.
Adolescents and Teens
According to Dr. Michael Fraser in a New York Daily News article, kids, adolescents and teens are just as vulnerable to emotional and mental problems as adults. Because of their inability or lack of will to resolve these issues, they often resort to playing video games instead. If you’re a parent, monitoring your child’s development is important. You can help your growing child learn how to overcome problems in real life rather than giving up and relying on fantasies in games. To accomplish this, you can implement a reasonable schedule for times when playing games is allowed. Alternatively, you can just replace gaming with another pastime. You can also teach your teens to consider playing games as a reward whenever they successfully resolve personal problems in real life.
Learning to Cope With Addiction to Video Games
Patience is always an important virtue when you’re helping someone recover from video game addiction. An affected individual who is deprived of video games may experience anger, depression and feelings of emptiness. By simply being there for that person, you can help alleviate these withdrawal symptoms. Find ways to counteract any negative reactions that the addict may exhibit. For instance, if the urge to go back to gaming is very strong, create distractions through sports and other strenuous activities. With the right responses to withdrawal symptoms, the addicted player may soon enough learn to let go of gaming and get back to healthy living. According to Dr. Gabor Mate in a TIME magazine article, the emotional support given by the community is powerful and beneficial for people who struggle to free themselves from their abusive behavior.
How to Treat Video Game Dependency
When your efforts in dealing with video game dependency aren’t enough, help and advice from credible healthcare professionals may be the best solution. Many professionals have been trained to use effective tools and methods to help someone recover from addiction and guarantee long-lasting results.
Treating video game addiction is quite similar to treating just about any other addiction; however, given that computers are ubiquitous in present times, complete avoidance isn’t practical. What the affected individual really needs to do is learn to limit game time to a specific duration per day so that the remaining hours of the day can still be used for other activities.
Deciding Between Video Game Addiction Solutions
In addition to the aforementioned steps you can take to help people deal with their computer game or Internet addictions, you can also choose between therapies and support groups. Using all of these solutions simultaneously is even better. Certain medications can also help to inhibit compulsive behaviors.
The most common therapy used to regain self-control from addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy. The addict will undergo a series of steps to change gaming behaviors and perceptions about the relevance of video games. If the addiction is the result of another underlying problem, therapy can also address this other issue and teach the addict how to cope with conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety.
Given that the current attention and research efforts devoted to video game addiction are relatively small compared to those for other addictions, very few support groups are available to provide communal assistance. One of the more notable groups is the Online Gamers Anonymous, a nonprofit organization that offers a 12-step program for recovery from video game addiction.
Where to Find Video Game Addiction Treatment for a Friend or Family Member
If you have a friend or family member who needs video game addiction treatment, you can call us at 1-888-997-3147. Not only can we provide you with information about treatment options, we can also refer you to professionals in your local area who can provide further assistance.
Video game addicts, just like other addicts, are powerless over their addictions. It is important to help them find the perfect treatment and teach them to find joys in real life.