Video game addiction isn't the first thing people think of when they think about addiction. Instead, it is a person who is abusing drugs and/or alcohol. However, an addiction that needs a lot more attention than it is getting is internet addictions or video game addictions.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not currently include video games as an addiction, but the American Psychological Association has been discussing, and will continue to discuss, adding gaming addiction to the manual.
Sure, you may not think that playing video games or spending time on the internet is as harmful as taking a drug or drinking alcohol, but in a lot of ways it can be just as damaging. While gaming addictions may not be official as of yet, studies show that between 10% and 15% of video game players meet the criteria for online gaming addiction.
The games people play the most and may get addicted to the most are games called Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG), such as World of Warcraft. People start playing these games and their lives get consumed by this alternate reality.
A lot of people who meet the criteria for gaming addictions are playing these games for the same reason that drug addicts and alcoholics drink and use drugs. To them, it feels good, and it is an escape. A computer gaming addiction allows them to take on a new persona and become anything and anyone they want to. It allows them to ignore everyday responsibilities and not have to deal with the problems they may have in their 'real' life.
Simply measuring the amount of time that a person spends playing a video game is not the only thing that needs to be looked at when trying to figure out if there is an addiction to games going on. What is the function of the video game? Is it simply fun, or is it to escape something and form another reality? Is it interfering with important everyday activities? What are the negative consequences, and is this person continuing to play video games despite these negative consequences?
There is a lot of controversy about whether or not video game addiction is really an addiction or not. Sure, it is not listed in the DSM yet, but does that make it any less harmful? My feeling is that it doesn't matter what you want to call it - a lot of people have a problem when it comes to the internet or video games, and it is not being taken seriously enough.
People either don't believe that addiction to video games exists or the people around them don't believe it so they ignore the negative consequences of their video game use. I know a lot of people who consider themselves to have a gaming addiction and are trying to abstain, just like drug addicts and alcoholics try to abstain from drugs and alcohol. To me, it is very much the same as any other addiction.
Many Asian countries are starting to recognize how serious video game addiction is. There have even been deaths that have occurred as a result of blood clots that occur when someone sits in front of the computer for too long without getting up.To me, this is the equivalent of a drug overdose.
When someone is addicted to a drug, they often use as much of it as possible and as fast as possible. Their priorities are using the drug - they don't care about eating, sleeping, or being healthy in any manner. Once they have used too much of it and their body cannot handle it anymore, they may overdose. How is someone sitting on a computer playing a video game until they die ANY different than a drug overdose? It is a person who cannot stop playing the game, no matter what the consequences are.
Some time around 2009, the first center for treatment for internet addiction and rehab for video game addiction opened in the United States. It is called reSTART and it is located in Washington. The reSTART Program was developed to help people who have become dependent on or addicted to technology. The program helps people break their cycle of addiction and dependency on the internet, video games, and other technology.
At reSTART, a 45 day program is offered. The program promotes abstinence, and attempts to reintroduce the person with life skills that may have been neglected because of excessive computer/game and technology usage. When people are involved in this program, they are encouraged to figure out some of the underlying issues that may have started the gaming addiction in the first place. Some of these underlying issues may include depression, divorce, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, etc.
This sounds a lot like drug and alcohol rehab. Video game addiction needs to be treated in a very similar way as other addictions, and we need to take it more seriously. Video game addicts should not be embarrassed to admit they have a problem or be ashamed of asking for help.
If you have a problem with video games or the internet, or ANYTHING else for that matter, you SHOULD ask for help! Chances are that someone else has been through whatever it is that you are struggling with. Game addition rehab is now available and it’s no disgrace to need it.
There are places you can go for help with addiction to online gaming and people you can talk to. Whether people consider your problem to be a 'real addiction' or not is pretty meaningless in my opinion. If there is something that you cannot stop doing and it is interfering with your life, get the gaming addiction help you need.
If you have any questions about video game addiction or internet addiction treatment or have any video game addiction stories to share, please don’t hesitate to submit them. We all need to get involved in creating more awareness of this problem.