Last Updated: November 10, 2022
As far as addictions and psychological disorders, there is perhaps none as modern as gaming addiction. While not discussed as often as opioid and alcohol dependency, more people — especially young men — are finding their lives consumed by video games, making them withdraw from friends, family, school, and work. In the past decade or so, there have even been a number of addiction centers opened dedicated to treating this specific addiction.
Video games are nothing new, but people need to know that any behavior can be addictive. Whether food, alcohol, drugs, sex, or Angry Birds are your vice, help is available. Before seeking treatment, you must understand video game addiction and what drives addiction in general.
Dopamine = Continous Rewards for the Brain
Whenever you do something that makes you happy such as listening to a song you love, talking to a friend, seeing your crush, taking a run, or eating your favorite foods, the brain rewards you with a dopamine rush. This is usually a positive thing since dopamine serves the vital function of helping you feel pleasure and enjoy the world around you.
However, in constant, repetitive amounts, that dopamine rush you get can become addictive, causing you always to seek out that next “fix.” If you are addicted to gaming, video games can produce this rewarding feeling, causing you to come back again and again until it consumes too much of your time. Whether it is beating an opponent or unlocking that next level, game developers have a special knack for creating scenarios that are addictively rewarding to drive engagement and encourage repeat play for long intervals.
Is It Really an Addiction?
Most addiction specialists agree that more research is needed before gaming addiction can be fully understood. Addiction is complicated, more complicated than wanting a “feel-good” moment, or going through an obsessive phase. For something to be a full-blown addiction, the substance or activity must take precedence over all else. An addict will not care that his or her grades have plummeted, that parents are worried, or that he or she is on the verge of losing another job.
If you find yourself playing video games so much that any of the above sounds like you, it is time to try taking a break. Try committing to not playing video games for 48 hours and see how you feel. To help make it stick, remove your game consoles or computers from your living space for the duration of the challenge and find something else to distract yourself. Make plans with friends or family, exercise, go see a new movie, cook a meal, or even take a weekend trip if you are able.
If you have tried to take a break from gaming and find yourself unable, it may be time to seek help. Video game addiction often occurs alongside other addictive behaviors, so it is possible that you have an addictive personality and need some additional professional support. Help is available. Contact us to speak with a trained intake specialist. There is no pressure ever and we will give you the information you need to make the best choice for yourself.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.