Video Game Addiction Treatment Program Options
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As with gambling addiction, video game addiction is a clinical impulse control disorder. According to psychiatrist Michael Brody, MD, the criteria for video game addiction is the same as that for addiction to a substance. In both cases, the person requires more of the source as time goes on and becomes irritable and despondent when they cannot access it. In fact, video game addicts can even experience withdrawal symptoms.
Another clue that a person is addicted to video games, according to researchers at Kansas State University, is that they may play video games to alter their mood.
While the harm in addictions to substances is apparent in physical symptoms, it is often less clear with video game addiction. However, video game addiction can negatively affect a life in the same way a substance addiction can. Those who play for hours each day become withdrawn and isolated, foregoing work, school and other responsibilities to play. Younger addicts often miss out on critical education and important social development, while adults tend to experience deteriorating relationships and problems with their employers.
The physical effects of video game addiction include poor personal hygiene, hormonal disturbances from sleep deprivation, and what the American Physical Therapy Association refers to as video gamer’s thumb, a repetitive use injury characterized by tendonitis and swelling. Many addicted gamers gain weight as a result of their sedentary lifestyles and tendency to reach for high-calorie processed foods and beverages.
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Some experts warn that excessive gaming can even be fatal. A tech-addiction expert in Seattle said she has known of people who have died from heart attacks and blood clots, both results of the unhealthy lifestyle many extreme gamers live.
The warning signs of video game addiction include:
- Gaming to escape difficult life situations
- Playing for longer periods as time goes on
- Skipping showers and meals to play
- Poor performance at work or school
- Lying to others to hide gaming activities
- Exhibiting signs of irritation when forced to stop gaming
Although the American Psychological Association has not yet classified video game addiction as a mental illness, many experts contend that the signs and symptoms of the problem are similar to those of compulsive disorders such as gambling and sex addiction.
If you or someone you care about needs help dealing with a video game addiction, call us at today.
What Causes Video Game Addictions?
Researchers are not certain what causes video game addiction; however, some experts believe that elevated dopamine levels contribute heavily to the problem. The neurotransmitter dopamine works in the brain’s reward center. It is released during activities most people find pleasurable, including eating and consuming certain drugs.
Therapists view all addictions as functioning essentially the same way. In the case of non-substance addictions, such as those to sex, gambling and gaming, the behavior takes the place of a substance. The action of playing generates a feeling of pleasure, which ensures the addict will repeat the action as often as possible.
In a report published by CBC News in April 2013, a gaming addiction expert said those with certain personality disorders or disabilities are at greater risk than others. She noted that people who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Asperger’s are particularly susceptible to gaming addiction.
Those who study video game addiction also believe that the problem has a psychological component. They contend that compulsive gamers retreat to a fantasy world to escape their real-life troubles and unpleasant emotions. According to a recent report, 41 percent of those who play online video games indicated they game to escape from reality.
Staff at treatment centers designed to help video game addicts understand the underlying causes of the problem and are equipped to help. Call us at to learn how we can help you or your loved one overcome this addiction.
Is There a Cure for Video Game Addiction?
Treatment for video game addiction is similar to that for other addictions. Counseling and behavior modification are the primary means of treating addicted gamers. Together, individual and family counseling are powerful treatment tools. Some treatment facilities incorporate medication in their programs.
However, unlike drugs or alcohol, video games are tied to computers, which are a key part of life for most people. In that way, the addiction is similar to a food addiction. As a result, some treatment centers explore controlled use rather than abstinence.
No overall cure for video game addiction exists. As with alcoholism and drug addiction, the key is to enter treatment and to stay aware of triggers while continuing to participate in recovery groups, such as Online Gamers Anonymous.
Therapies for Video Game Addicts
Research on treatment for video game addiction is ongoing, but few clinical trials have been conducted in relation to the problem. Experts agree that the same treatments used for sufferers of other addictions appear to work for video game addicts. As a result, they generally recommend counseling and psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-step programs and medication, either individually or in combination with other treatment methods.
One-on-one counseling and family counseling are both effective in treating a gaming addict. Psychotherapists attempt to help the addict understand how gaming is related to their school or job, emotions and moods, and sense of life goals and rewards.
Where 12-step programs are concerned, the primary resource available is Online Gamers Anonymous, a non-profit organization founded in 2002.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment
Many experts recommend cognitive behavioral therapy as the ideal treatment for video game addiction. The therapy allows the addict to shift their thoughts, replacing those that lead to compulsive gaming with healthier thinking patterns. As its name implies, cognitive behavioral therapy allows a person to modify their thoughts, feelings and ultimately behavior for the better.
Therapists consider addiction a belief or way of thinking that leads to irrational, often unhealthy behaviors. They start treatment by identifying and focusing on the thoughts that start the chain of addiction and help the addict begin their transition from there.
Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques include setting goals and then learning to overcome the thinking that sparks compulsive gaming.
Other Therapeutic Methods
Wilderness therapy is an alternative treatment for video game addiction. Proponents of the method contend that by removing the addict from the source of the addiction, the therapy offers the best chance of recovering. They also believe that placing addicts in a natural environment, free of the trappings and distractions of modern life, allows them to learn to be comfortable with their own emotions.
Residential Inpatient Gaming Addiction Treatment Centers
Inpatient treatment for addicted gamers is best for those who need to leave their environment altogether for a time in order to heal. Such treatment centers offer group therapy, individual counseling and a game-free atmosphere.
Some inpatient facilities offer private rooms, while some offer dorm-like accommodations. All these programs are designed to make the patient feel safe, comfortable and supported as they embark on a healing journey.
Once an addict has allowed their life opportunities to diminish by withdrawing entirely into the addiction, they have few options for overcoming the dependency on their own. This is where inpatient treatment facilities are a tremendous help. They help patients relearn healthy coping skills in a contained environment.
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The Benefits of Residential Video Game Addiction Treatments
Residential, or inpatient, video game treatment centers offer the patient ample time to recover from the addiction. Some people only require a 30-day stay, while others benefit from a minimum of 60 days at such a center.
In addition, residential treatment centers protect each patient’s privacy while helping them to become equipped for an addiction-free life. Many centers offer flexible payment plans, while most accept insurance.
Luxury Video Game Addiction Facilities
If you are interested in an inpatient treatment center with amenities, you can find what you want at a luxury video game addiction facility. Such centers offer everything from massage therapy to gourmet meals. Many find that the luxuries offered at these facilities make recovery more comfortable, ensuring the individual stays in treatment for longer.
Executive Video Game Addiction Programs
Those who have hesitated to seek treatment for their gaming addictions owing to responsibilities at work might be good candidates for executive video game addiction programs. These inpatient centers offer limited access to computers and mobile phones to permit business executives to stay in touch with the office while undergoing treatment.
Outpatient Video Game Rehab and Treatment Programs
Outpatient video game rehabilitation programs share many of the traits of inpatient programs, minus the overnight accommodations. Outpatient programs offer significantly more freedom for the patient, who, at the end of each session, is allowed to return home. Such a structure permits patients to maintain commitments to work, school, friends and family. Another benefit of an outpatient program is that the patient can enjoy a support network without needing to reveal to coworkers or fellow students that they are undergoing treatment for an addiction.
Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
Although clinical trials are in the early stages, there is some indication that certain medications help video game addicts by altering their brain chemistry to reduce the urge to play. Buproprion, in particular, has appeared to offer help to some addicts by inhibiting norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake. A six-week trial showed that those taking the drug experienced fewer cravings to play.
Many video game addicts appear to suffer from undiagnosed depression and anxiety disorders as well. Once they receive help, often in the form of medication, for one problem, they have a better chance of overcoming their gaming addictions as well.
How to Find the Best Video Game Addiction Treatment Facility
Recent developments within the psychiatric field may mean more treatment options for addicted gamers in the near future. In May 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the official guide for those in the mental health field, included a recommendation to continue studying Internet-use disorder, which encompasses video game addiction. The recommendation adds legitimacy to claims that video game addiction is a bona fide disorder that requires treatment. That recommendation combined with an increasing number of available statistics, such as that nearly one in every 10 gamers ages 8 to 18 is addicted to playing, should result in more options for those finding help in treating video gaming addiction.
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