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Gaming Addiction and its Harmful Affects

Gaming Addiction: What is it and How Does it Affect You?

Just as recently as a few decades ago, gaming addiction was completely unheard of. Sophisticated video game systems and the ability to play others through the Internet have changed that. Today, more people are addicted to video games than ever before. This is taking place all over the world. Most of the time, people who are addicted to video games live their lives in denial of a problem. This is one of the classic signs of addiction. In many ways, video game addictions are very similar to drug and alcohol addictions. They stimulate the same reward centers in the brain, and addicts find it nearly impossible to stop.

Gaming Addiction Information

Douglas Gentile, who is a psychologist at Iowa State University has been studying gaming addiction. According to an article on the CNN website, he began his studies in 1999. His goal was to prove that gaming addiction wasn't real. He is quoted as saying, “…it turns out I was wrong!”

According to his findings, about 8.5% of children who play video games in the U.S. are addicted to them. He found similar percentages all over the world. The truth is that gaming addiction doesn't just apply to children. There are many adults who suffer from it as well.

This statistic might shock you; especially if you're someone who might have a gaming addiction. Maybe you've been told that video games were becoming a problem for you. You never really believed it could be possible.

At Northpoint Washington, we've treated patients who suffered from gaming addictions. Their preoccupations with video games quickly took over their lives. This isn't something that you need to live with. Getting help can save you from a lifetime of hurt and pain.

It might be beneficial to learn more about what gaming addiction is, and how to know if you have one.

What is a Gaming Addiction?

A video game addiction is an impulse control disorder. It is a process addiction that doesn't involve the use of any types of substances. In a way, it is actually quite similar to gambling addiction. Some of the most commonly played games involve using the Internet. This allows people to connect with each other during their game play. They often fight against each other, or team up together to reach certain goals. This may serve as a substitute for real-life relationships.

It is very common for people with gaming addictions to form emotional attachments to the games. They may feel connected with their online friends, or they may experience a connection with their online activities. As people become more immersed in the games, their addictions tend to grow very strong. They are usually required to spend a lot of time playing. They do it out of obligation and loyalty to the other players.

Of course, this behavior only serves as a way to justify continuing in the addiction. Men and boys are much more likely to become addicted to gaming than girls and women.

What Causes Video Game Addictions?

The reasons behind video game addictions are very uncertain. Experts aren't exactly sure what causes them, although there are some theories.

Much like gambling, playing video games is something that increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the “feel good” chemical that everyone's brain produces. It is something that you experience after you've eaten a meal, after sexual activity, or doing anything you enjoy. Dopamine is the chemical that causes you to feel happy and secure.

For gamers, they experience these dopamine surges when they're playing their games, according to WebMD. They become addicted to that feeling and sensation. It can almost become euphoric in nature. However, this addiction is not one that's based on physical components alone. It is also psychological.

Video game addicts will often use their gaming worlds to escape from reality. They are trying to change the way they feel. Their fantasy worlds provide this for them. They get to take on someone else's identity as they play. This allows them to be virtually anything they want to be. After some time has gone by, the changes in the person are apparent. Their virtual lives become much more interesting and appealing than their real lives.

Learn the Symptoms of Addictive Gaming

Clearly, video game addiction is harmful. People who participate in it don't have time for anything else. This is especially important for young children who don't know how to interact with others socially. Still, just playing video games does not mean that you have an addiction.

It's important to learn the signs of addictive gaming. Once you know what they are, you can learn more about your own behaviors.

Some of the more common signs of gaming addiction include:

  • Feeling the need to play the games for increasing amounts of time.
  • Thinking about gaming while participating in other activities.
  • Using gaming to escape from stress or other problems.
  • Using gaming as a way to cope with anxiety or depression.
  • Lying to friends and family about how much time is spent gaming.
  • Attempting to hide gaming activities from people you love.
  • Becoming angry or irritable when trying to cut down on gaming time.
  • Dropping out of other activities in order to pursue video games.
  • Not spending time with friends any longer.

These symptoms only tend to get worse as time goes on. The individual may become even more isolated from others. It's even common to spend hours gaming without eating or using the restroom. These behaviors are very dangerous, and they obviously indicate that there's a serious problem.

How Can You Tell if You're Addicted to Video Games? Take a Gaming Addiction Test

You may be convinced that you're not addicted to gaming. However, after looking over the above symptoms, you might not be so convinced. You need more information about your condition, and you need to know if you should get help.

You might find it very beneficial to take a gaming quiz. Answering some questions about your gaming behaviors can be very insightful for you. It might help you understand your own relationship to gaming, and whether or not it should change.

Answer the following questions as honestly as you can.

  • Do you have times when you relive your gaming experiences?
  • Do you spend a lot of time thinking about future gaming experiences?
  • Do you ever hide when you are gaming?
  • Do you lie about how much time you spend playing games?
  • If someone interrupts a game, do you get very angry?
  • Have you ever binged on gaming after you have been forced to take a break?
  • When you feel upset, does gaming help you feel better?
  • Do you think about gaming right after you wake up in the morning?
  • Have you found ways to play games when you're not at home?
  • Is your sleep suffering because of the time you spend gaming?
  • Do you try to set limits for yourself with gaming, but then you break those limits?
  • Have you shirked your responsibilities so that you can game?
  • Do you feel guilty or shameful about your gaming habits and behaviors?
  • Is gaming beginning to affect your relationships?
  • Is gaming taking the place of other things that you once enjoyed?
  • If someone tells you you're playing games too much, do you become defensive and angry?

If you answered more than two of the above questions with a yes, then you most likely have a gaming addiction.

If you are addicted to gaming, there's no need to worry or panic. It's understandable that you didn't mean to become addicted to anything. Most people don't realize that it's even possible to form a gaming addiction. However, please know that you can get help to stop gaming and recover.

What are the Risk Factors for Becoming Addicted to Gaming?

Some people are more at risk than others for developing a gaming addiction. Everyone is different, and not everyone who enjoys playing games has an addiction to them. It's important to know what the risk factors are. They include:

  • Having an aggressive personality.
  • Having a higher than normal anxiety level.
  • For men, being older and having a low self-esteem.
  • Being unhappy with life in general.
  • Using computer games to manage one's moods.
  • Experiencing bouts of depression.
  • Having problems relating in social situations.
  • Having a family history of other types of addictions.

Unhealthy and addictive gaming continues to be a serious problem in the United States. Any of the above can place you at a greater risk for developing a gaming addiction. If you haven't developed one yet, it's important to be aware of these risk factors.

Online Gamers Anonymous and Other Gaming Addiction Treatment Options

For the gaming addict, getting treatment is vital for recovery. It's not enough to just stop playing games. Even the best plan to stop gaming will often fall through. The addiction is just far too powerful. In this way, it is very similar to other types of addictions. Getting the help and support you need is critical if you have a gaming addiction.

There are several ways that you can do this. They include:

Online Gamers Anonymous

Online Gamers Anonymous is a website that offers help to those with gaming addictions. They have an online community of people who are all striving to recover. They even have a section of their site that is dedicated to helping families of gamers.

Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous

Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous offers many types of help for addicted gamers. They offer face to face support groups, online chats and video meetings. Members are able to connect with each other and encourage each other to recover.

Professional Therapy

Sometimes it can be helpful to talk with a therapist when you're suffering from an addiction. Many therapists specialize in gaming addictions. It can be very helpful to talk through the issues surrounding your gaming addiction. Your therapist can help you understand why you became addicted to gaming.

Gaming Addiction Treatment

More often than not, professional gaming addiction treatment is needed for recovery. This can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting. It helps to remove yourself from the source of your addiction (the games). By taking the time to focus on recovering, many people have been successful. You'll learn why you became addicted to gaming, and you'll work toward avoiding an eventually relapse.

Get Help for Your Video Games Addiction Today

If you're addicted to video games, these addictive behaviors can eventually cause you a lot of problems. Maybe you're aware of the problem, or maybe you weren't aware of it until now. Either way, if you're dealing with a gaming addiction, it's so important for you to get help.

Gaming addictions will progress until nothing in your life is as important to you as the game. You may not be able to go to work, maintain healthy relationships, or have a social life. That is the primary way that addiction works. It might seem as though you're participating in something that's basically harmless. However, when left alone, gaming addiction can do a tremendous amount of harm.

You don't need to continue to struggle with your gaming addiction. Trying to stop gaming on your own can be difficult, and for most people, impossible. Professional help is available for you here at Northpoint Washington. We've been able to help many people overcome their gaming addictions. For the majority of them, there were underlying issues that also needed to be addressed. These co-occurring disorders can cause an addiction to continue on for years. With the right type of treatment, you can recover, just as so many others have before you.

Would you like to learn more about gaming addiction and getting treatment? If so, we'd like to share with you about our services. Please contact us right away.