While the American Medical Association has yet to identify gaming addiction as a diagnosable disorder, compulsive video game use has become a widespread epidemic. Stories abound on the web of gamers who have become obsessed, relinquishing normal life pursuits to continue playing. Anecdotes by self-identified gamers and their families have led scientists to conduct increasing research on the subject, and health professionals are developing programs for treatment. According to many, excessive gaming delivers a rush similar to drug and alcohol addiction.
“I like to play games a lot, but how do I know if I’m addicted?”
For many young people, video gaming starts as a simple social activity. However, as playing begins to consume more and more time and attention, it becomes isolating, preoccupying, and results in these addictive behaviors:
Playing for longer & longer periods of time.
Gamers report that they often neglect their responsibilities to have more time to play video games. They seem to be immune to the threat of job loss or failure in school, opting instead to immerse themselves in the game.
Neglecting sleep, nourishment & personal care.
Chronic gamers neglect their health and well-being. Families report preparing meals that go uneaten, even when set within easy reach. Often, gamers fail to do even the most basic personal tasks like bathing, dressing and brushing their teeth or hair. Long hours at the game screen result in health problems like chronic headache, backache, and sleep deprivation.
Choosing the game over real life.
For young people who are still developing social skills, video game addiction can have grave and long-lasting consequences. Rather than participating in activities that form healthy relationships with peers, they may choose to isolate themselves with their game personas. They never give themselves an opportunity to mature and learn to interact with friends and family.
Can Treatment Help?
Breaking the cycle of video game addiction can be done, but like other compulsive behaviors, it may require professional help. For some gamers, it is as easy as unplugging the computer and reconnecting with family and friends. For others, 12-step programs and cognitive behavior therapy may provide the answer. Long-time gamers sometimes need help learning the social skills and nutritional habits they failed to develop during adolescence.
Young adults respond especially well to wilderness therapy addiction programs like Red Oak Recovery®. Our credentialed addiction specialists also offer nutritional therapy and life skills training, in addition to clinical guidance and support. Call 866.457.7426 to learn how we can help you or a loved one escape the tyranny of addiction and learn to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.