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Gaming Addiction

 An addiction is a mental condition which means that gaming addiction help is predicated on recognizing and working through what’s going on in the mind that drives the compulsive behavior.

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An Introduction to Gaming Addiction

A likely question that the words “gaming addiction” immediately conjures is “is it even a real addiction?”. Invariably it’s often sneered or asked mockingly.

It’s a fair question to ask for those who themselves haven’t been sucked into a black hole of endless gaming. Something to be skeptical about to those who haven’t had to watch a loved one lose themselves in the digital realm. Spending days, weeks, months and years gaming. 

Addiction isn’t exclusively related to taking drugs or drinking excessively, it’s a mental disorder related to circuitry in the brain involved in reward, stress and self-control.

That last one, self-control, is key to understanding. A loss of the ability to control an impulse, like one to continue gaming, is a crucial part of what defines an addiction. Gaming triggers a reward and leads to an overwhelming compulsion to keep doing it in spite of consequences.

That’s an addiction to a behavior.

Regardless of how it starts – as a bit of fun or a way to socialize and connect with others online or even escapism – playing video games can turn into an addiction for some and it shifts from fun and frivolous to a full-on need. An itch that must be scratched.

On a diagnostic level, as per the American Psychiatric Association (APA), there is no formal diagnosis for gaming addiction. That said, in their fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) – the bible for diagnosing addiction – the APA included Internet Gaming Addiction (IGD) as an area for further study before possibly making it a recognized condition.

At this moment, the only officially recognized behavioral addiction is gambling but gaming may soon join it.

Let’s backtrack through and understand the scope of gaming. Globally, there are about 2.7 billion gamers. Billion. In the United States, it’s a 60.4 billion dollar industry. Again, billion. To put it differently, it’s big business and reaches every corner of the globe, 2.7 billion people is literally over 1/3rd of the world’s population. Those numbers when you undoubtedly know a gamer.

Moreover, 59% of all Americans have played video games and if you look closer at adolescents, specifically those aged 12 to 17, an even more disconcerting stat emerges: 97% of them play videos in some form.

The issue with gaming being addictive has already caught the attention of the World Health Organization (WHO) who officially classified gaming disorder as a diagnosable condition, adding that it’s a “pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences”.

A 2015 study found that 1.4% of gamers could be classified as addicted which would equate to just shy of 38 million gaming addicts around the world. It becomes a little bit clearer why the WHO would be so concerned as to include the disorder in their International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

And the consequences of gaming compulsively go beyond what you might expect. A long-term BYU study that took place over the course of 6 years, the longest study that was ever done on video game addiction in fact, showed that about 10% of participants fell into the pathological category. The consequences of that manifested as “higher levels of depression, aggression, shyness, problematic cell phone use and anxiety by emerging adulthood”.

A critical thing to note is that a gaming addiction isn’t exclusively tied to the amount of time spent playing a game, it’s about the control the game has on a person. The way it preoccupies their thoughts and affects their behavior. How a person’s very happiness is wrapped up in it. In that sense, gaming can have a similar effect on the mind as drugs or alcohol do.

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What Are the Signs of Gaming Addiction?

While not all experts agree on the exact nature of gaming addiction, or if it is one, there are clear signs of when it becomes an issue. Gaming addiction symptoms to look out for that would clue you into a problem and be an indication that you or a loved one should seek professional advice and/or help are:

  • Preoccupied with gaming
  • Developing something of a tolerance and spending more time gaming to get satisfaction
  • Unable to reduce the time gaming despite genuine efforts, unsuccessful at quitting
  • Lying to people about the time spent gaming
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Giving up on activities that were previously enjoyed in order to game more
  • Jeopardizing relationships, job opportunities or education to play video games
  • Playing video games to relieve negative moods like guilt or hopelessness
  • Continuing to play despite clear issues it’s causing
  • Withdrawal symptoms set in when not playing

We Work with Most Insurance

At Thrive Treatment℠ we accept most private insurance plans and we are in network with Cigna, MHN Health Net, First Health, and Anthem Blue Cross.  Additional payment options are available so don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can get you the help that you need.

Gaming Addiction Withdrawal

As with any addiction, giving it up is not necessarily a zero-sum game. Things don’t just immediately get better and even with something like an online gaming addiction there are associated withdrawal symptoms when the gaming ends.

Some that are possible are:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings to play again
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings and aggression
  • Loneliness

Both the signs of addiction and the withdrawal symptoms will begin to come into sharper focus as more and more research is done on the nature of video game addiction in the coming years.

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Thrive Treatment's Gaming Addiction Rehab in Los Angeles Can Help

At Thrive Treatment we create a custom treatment program designed to understand the underlying social and emotional issues that led to an addition to gaming. Through individual counseling sessions as well as group therapy, we work with you to create healthy habits and positive alternatives to gaming as well as coping mechanisms to help overcome triggers and cravings. We’ll also collaborate to develop and devise sustainable boundaries because let’s face it, computers and tech are part of our lives.

A life free of addiction is what everyone deserves, at Thrive Treatment we can help get you to that promised land. Get in touch with us to learn more about our gaming addiction rehab options.

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