Can You Really Be Addicted to Video Games?
Video games haven’t been around nearly as long as other addictive substances, and the study of this behavioral addiction is still in its infancy. But, as children and even adults devote more and more of their time to video games, video game addiction is expected to skyrocket.
Some may question whether video games can truly be addictive in the same way as drugs or alcohol, but that perspective misses the point. In fact, people can become addicted both to substances as well as behaviors—and as with gambling , video gaming is a behavior with potential for abuse, addiction…and serious, life-impacting problems.
Video Game Addiction: Underlying Causes
Research suggests that playing video games accesses one’s neurological reward system in a manner similar to drugs like heroin or vicodin, thereby raising dopamine levels, or pleasure centers in the brain. This may also be true for other compulsive behaviors, and could partly explain why gaming feels so addictive.
But when you become addicted to a behavior, there’s often an underlying cause, such as a disorder or psychological problem, that feeds into the addiction. Many millions of Americans enjoy playing video games as a pastime, but only a minority of gamers develop a compulsive relationship with their favorite games. What makes them different?
The answer depends on the person. Beyond simple fun, video games offer an escape into a world of fantasy. So if you’re looking to avoid daily life issues, including problems at school or work, family issues, or social challenges with fitting in, video games might be particularly appealing–especially as they simulate a feeling of power and control. It’s important not to treat video games as a surrogate for real living.
The Negative Effects of Compulsive Gaming
Compulsive gaming is most commonly seen among people under age 30, including children, teenagers, and adolescents. In a sense, the particular needs of these age groups can compound the problems associated with addiction. Young people are developing in ways that older adults are not—they’re learning how to exist in the world, developing social skills, and learning how to cope with obstacles and challenges.
When these same young people turn to gaming as a temporary solution to their problems, they miss out on the chance to develop more constructive responses that will help them later in life.
Video game addicts may also find themselves falling behind in other aspects of life, such as school, work, and social obligations, and spending too much money on their addiction. They may lie to cover up the increasing time they’re spending with games, and become angry, irritable, or depressed when they’re forced to step away from their gaming habits. Don’t fall victim. Teen rehab can help.
Recovery from Video Game Addiction
Video game addiction is a serious issue, but complete recovery is very possible. It all begins with recognizing the severity of the habit, whether it’s within yourself, or something you’ve witnessed in a child or loved one. Denying the existence of an addiction, or acting as if the problem is smaller than it really is, won’t help: the situation will only worsen with time.
Many compulsive gamers will benefit from a detox or rehabilitation program similar to those used for substance abuse and addiction. Teen rehab programs are also available for young people struggling with compulsive gaming habits.
Reach Out Today
For more information, or to speak confidentially about developing a plan to overcome video game addiction and its associated problems, please give us a call today.