Video games are supposed to be a fun, carefree pastime, but for some gamers and particularly male gamers, it can become an unhealthy addiction that can flip a life upside down.
Video game addiction releases chemicals in the brain
Video games are obviously not as physically addictive as heroin or crack cocaine, but just as there’s a physical component to gambling addicts hooked on slot machines, there’s still a physical component to compulsive gaming. In both video game and gambling addiction, addicts may experience elevated levels of dopamine while playing. That mental “rush” becomes something that addicts crave and can’t live without. If the games are taken away, some addicts exhibit withdrawal symptoms such as anger, depression or violence.
One Australian father told The Sunday Times that his son became so hooked on video games that he exhibited behavior similar to a heroin addict. He said, “You haven’t got someone putting a needle in their arms and having a high, but you’ve got all the telltale collateral damage of a heroin addict – withdrawal from his family, withdrawal from his friends, lies to cover his addiction. He’ll do anything.” The man’s son would sit in a dark room playing video games for up to 16 hours a day, and had not attended his college classes for two months.
Video game addiction has been recognized by the medical community
Though video game addiction has yet to be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there is a growing awareness among mental health providers. The American Medical Association’s Council found online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft can be most addictive and that “dependence-like behaviors are more likely in children who start playing video games at younger ages”
Up to 90% of American kids play video games, and as many as 15% of them — more than 5 million kids — may be addicted, according to the AMA.
Video game addicts may also suffer with addiction, depression
A Yale School of Medicine study found that while only 5% of adolescents reported symptoms of video game addiction, those who did were more likely to smoke cigarettes, use drugs and get into fights. Excessive video game playing may be a symptom of other mental illnesses, such as depression or social anxiety disorders.
At The Way Out, we provide all clients with a comprehensive intake process that identifies any and all issues that need to be addressed. A holistic treatment philosophy that treats the entire person is the most successful strategy, and one that can rule out a process addiction to video games.
If you feel you or your loved one must be placed in a rehabilitation treatment center for video game addiction, please call 888-373-5963 or fill out a patient placement form and The Way Out Recovery will aid in placement.