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Counseling for Gaming Addiction

Goda Brzozauskaite
  • Dec 28, 2021
  • 4 min read
young man sitting at night is tired of his gaming addiction

People mostly associate the term “Addiction” with drug abuse. Very few people think about the potentially quite harmful physical, psychological, and emotional consequences of video game addiction.

However, gamers experience symptoms similar to those typically associated with drug addiction, including changes in mood, tolerance, and withdrawal.

Although playing video games does not lead to violent or aggressive behavior in players, it is addictive. The World Health Organization (WHO) has even included internet gaming disorder in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

However, this inclusion of video game addiction as a new disorder by WHO did not come without its fair share of controversy.

Many studies have argued that making video game addiction a disorder could have many negative impacts on science, medicine, society, and the individual.

Interestingly, the American Psychiatric Association has thus far omitted internet gaming disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), citing insufficient evidence to justify its inclusion.

While this debate rumbles on, gaming addiction continues to unnecessarily affect many people around the world. However, online therapy for gaming addiction means that people no longer have to suffer hopelessly in silence.

Availing of video game addiction therapy treatment delivered by highly trained therapists significantly improves people’s chances of making a full recovery.

Is Game Addiction Therapy Effective?

Playing video games triggers the release of a chemical messenger called dopamine in the same way that recreational drugs like cocaine do. This means that anyone with a passion for gaming can become addicted, even if they have no risk factors.

The good thing about this is that the therapeutic techniques used to treat other addictions are effective in treating gaming addiction as well.

In addition to treating the problem of addiction, counseling for gaming addiction also addresses mental health problems and underlying issues. This is particularly important as addiction is usually associated with one or more other conditions in the same person.

Unearthing root causes and potential contributors to addiction, like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and depression, is a crucial aspect of the recovery process.

Several effective treatment options are available to help control cravings, regulate emotions, and moderate behavior. Those who struggle with gaming addiction often find great success in the following options:

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the combination of two evidence-based therapeutic approaches: cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. CBT therapists can teach people psychological tools to help them control impulses and recognize problematic behavior.

CBT helps people form a clear view of their thoughts and enables them to identify inaccurate ones, as well as negative beliefs and rationalizations that reinforce the addiction.

Once destructive patterns of thinking are revealed, attention is then switched to the prevention of harmful behavior.

Online counseling for game addiction is a great way to receive CBT treatment. Online therapy allows for regular and consistent communication between therapist and patient. This can be incredibly powerful and especially helpful.

Furthermore, online addiction counseling allows people to retain their anonymity and is often more approachable and convenient than traveling to a therapist’s practice.

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Gaming addiction treatment centers

Some people may require an extended stay at an inpatient treatment center where they live for the duration of their individualized treatment program. At inpatient centers, expert mental health professionals are present 24/7 to offer medical assistance and emotional support.

Residents at inpatient centers have no or very limited access to video games or related electronics that may negatively impact recovery.

Patients are accepted into a compassionate environment that provides fertile ground for the development of healthy relationships between staff and residents. A strong support network can help to sustain motivation during treatment and make the recovery process a little easier.

Alternatively, people may opt for outpatient treatment in which they continue to live at home, visiting the treatment center for scheduled therapy sessions only. Attending outpatient treatment is highly recommended to people once inpatient treatment concludes.

Outpatient treatment can be particularly helpful for people who might have successfully recovered from gaming addiction but are experiencing considerable difficulty maintaining abstinence or controlling urges.

Medications

Certain medications have also proven to be effective in treating gaming addiction.

Studies have shown that people addicted to video games who receive an antidepressant medication can significantly decrease their cravings and total playing time and have less activity in brain parts typically associated with addiction.

In addition, participants saw marked improvements in behavior, daily routine, and school attendance.

In another study, game-addicted individuals who also had ADHD were given the stimulant drug to treat their addiction. At the end of treatment, gaming addiction and playing times were significantly reduced. ADHD symptoms also improved.

The effectiveness of these medications indicates that they may ease cravings and change brain activity in ways that are similar to those seen in individuals who are addicted to drugs.

Furthermore, a treatment that includes both medication and counseling may address a range of psychosocial issues often associated with addiction, such as depression and anxiety.

What to Do if I Suspect That Someone Is Addicted?

If you suspect that someone you know has developed an addiction to gaming, the first and most important thing to do is clarify whether or not this is the case. Listed below are a number of signs and symptoms you can watch out for to inform your judgment.

Emotional signs and symptoms:

  • Low mood
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Preoccupation with playing
  • Lying to loved ones regarding time spent playing
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Needing to play to feel good
  • Using gaming as an escape from unpleasant feelings

Physical signs and symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Migraines
  • Eyestrain
  • Backaches
  • Eating irregularities
  • Poor hygiene

Getting through a situation like this with someone you love can be quite challenging. However, there are specific ways to communicate that can help you let them know about your concern.

If you wish to suggest professional treatment, you must approach the issue in a way that is caring and understanding. Although you won’t be able to control what the person ultimately decides to do, you can respectfully offer your honest, wholehearted opinion.

Once you have shared your concern, it is important that you then listen empathically. Try not to cast judgments or interrupt when the person is speaking. Instead, try to put yourself in their shoes and better understand their situation.

Let the person know in a calm and supportive manner that you are sincerely concerned for their welfare and think therapy could be helpful.

For the therapy to be effective, the person mustn’t feel forced or shamed into attending. Rather, they must decide themselves that they want to see a therapist. People can recover from addiction only if they genuinely wish to do so.

Gaming Addiction Therapy Can Help You

Recent studies suggest that up to 1% of Americans may have internet gaming disorder and that up to 10% of people play video games in a way that causes them problems. It is fair to say that gaming addiction will continue to receive lots of attention from scientific researchers.

Video games are designed to be addictive. Players are rewarded often in the early stages of a game and less often at later stages. Because of this, people continue to play in the hope that they will soon again be rewarded.

The brain reacts to these gaming rewards in the same way it reacts to rewards associated with drug addictions.

Considering this, it is not hard to see why it can often be incredibly challenging to accept and overcome video game addiction.

We highly recommend addiction therapy online to make the recovery process as easy as possible. Seeing a therapist online can give people the best chance of making a full recovery by helping them keep cravings at bay and prevent relapse.

To learn more or clear up any queries you might have, you are invited to visit DoMental, where you can talk with a member of the expert therapy team.

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