Non-substance related addictions such as gambling and gaming are commonly referred to as a process or behavioural addictions. These disorders involve a compulsion to repeatedly engage in certain behaviours until they begin to negatively impact a person’s physical, mental, social, spiritual and/or financial wellbeing.
Most people understand addiction as a disorder associated with illicit substances and medications. As a result, many people struggle with the concept of addictive behaviours and how they can lead to just as much damage, making everyday life a constant struggle. Addiction is characterised by someone seeking out opportunities to engage in certain behaviours. The “high” they experience as a result of this behaviour becomes so strong that the individual continues to engage in the activity despite negative consequences. This often indicates the development of an addiction.
Types of Gaming Addictions
When referring to a gaming addiction, we are almost always referring to the two main types of video games. Standard video games are generally designed to be played by a single player and involve a clear goal or mission. The addiction in these games is often related to completing that mission or beating a high score or preset standard, all of which are known to cause a rush of dopamine to the brain.
Multiplayer games are the second type of popular video game. These are typically played against other people online and are considered the most addictive because they generally have no ending. Many people develop relationships with other players online and feel they are part of a community. The online gaming world often becomes an escape from reality for most players.
Causes of Gaming Addiction
While factors such as genetics and environment can often indicate a predisposition to addiction, there is no single definitive cause. However, there are many factors which can contribute to someone’s gaming addiction.
One of the main reasons that video games can become so addictive, is down to their design. Video game designers are ultimately trying to make a profit and get as many people to play their game as possible. Once someone has become hooked on a game, it is likely they will purchase the next in the series and so forth. They accomplish this by making a game just challenging enough to ensure people want to continue playing, but not so difficult that they get bored and give up.
This repetitive behaviour is what ultimately leads to addiction, and breaking the cycle without professional help can be difficult.
Gaming, Addiction or Compulsion?
Problem gaming is associated with the use of the computer and video games at a frequency which disrupts a person’s everyday life. Many experts are still debating whether or not compulsive gaming can be labelled an addiction, or whether these people should be considered ‘enthusiastic players’. However, there have been many instances reported detailing how players will isolate themselves and play compulsively. Eventually, as with gambling, relationships, jobs, school and other important activities are ignored.
Signs of a Gaming Addiction
It can be difficult to identify when a loved one’s gaming has crossed over from a habit to an addiction. However, there are certain signs you can look out for that might help you identify whether someone needs help.
- Loss of control and difficulty controlling game behaviours;
- Disruption to sleep routines and life patterns;
- Preoccupation with gaming affects other important obligations such as school, work and relationships;
- Playing for longer periods in order to achieve the same thrill and level of enjoyment;
- Exhibiting anxiety and irritability when forced to stop gaming;
- Continuing to play despite the negative consequences.
Behavioural addictions such as gaming have been known to cause other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. These problems can in turn lead to physical symptoms such as sleep deprivation, resulting in a pale complexion, dark circles around the eyes, and weight gain or loss.
Treatment at CATCH
CATCH Recovery applies a therapeutic mix of the well-established 12-step approach and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, setting you up with a therapist who is trained in addressing gaming addiction.
If our initial screening indicates a significant behavioural problem that requires intervention, we will allocate a designated specialist, who will conduct a detailed assessment of your behaviour in your first session together.
Together with your allocated therapist, the goals you will be working towards within your therapy and during your recovery journey at CATCH are:
- To reach an awareness of your gaming addiction and/or;
- To reach an awareness of related behavioural addictions such as gaming/internet;
- To commit to the process of change and recovery;
- To learn how to avoid relapse through relapse prevention strategies;
- To learn to make responsible and rational choices and decisions.
If you think you may be suffering from a gaming addiction, or are concerned about a loved one exhibiting some of the symptoms mentioned above, call CATCH on 020 3468 6602 and speak to one of our team today.