Gambling addiction is a growing problem worldwide. It is estimated that two billion people worldwide play video games and nearly 4% of them can be considered addicted.
In 2018, the World Health Organization classified video game addiction as an addictive disorder. According to research, most patients are in the 25-year-old age range. The statistics are changing every year as children are coming into contact with video games at an earlier age. The number of female and male gamers is about equal, but men are more likely to become addicted.
What is the difference between a video game enthusiast and a video game addict who needs specialized help? By definition, an addict is someone who is so obsessed with video games that he or she can no longer cope with normal daily obligations. All areas of life are threatened and neglected because video games take priority, not to mention the negative consequences.
Video game addiction and its consequences
Video game addiction has many physical health consequences for those affected. The eyesight, neck and overall musculature are affected by hours of poor posture. Blood clots can also form in the legs due to insufficient physical activity and prolonged sitting at the computer.
To save time, addicts do not prepare meals, but opt for unhealthy industrial foods that they can enjoy while standing. This has negative effects on the digestive organs and the entire metabolism. They gain weight or lose weight if they avoid meals. This problem often goes hand in hand with dehydration. In order to get the most out of the video game world, patients often skip meals and it is not uncommon for them to collapse.
Among the many negative consequences, the psyche of addicts also suffers. They are often de-socialized and isolated from the rest of society, with no capacity for empathy or self-control. If treatment is not undertaken in time, suicidal thoughts appear and it is not uncommon for addicts to try to harm others around them.
Treatment for video game addiction is similar in most respects to treatment for gambling addiction. Certain symptoms indicate the need for treatment: a shift in the tolerance threshold, the appearance of a psychic desire, loss of control, an obsessive desire to play when the video game is stopped, a change in personality, a decrease in interest in the outside world…
How does an addiction start?
At first, people play video games spontaneously, during their leisure time. As the player spends more and more time in the world of video games, his skills improve. He or she is able to discover tricks that allow him or her to get better and better results. As the player moves up in the rankings, they gain a sense of accomplishment and power.
All of this leads to admiration from other players in the immediate vicinity who, for various reasons, cannot achieve such good results (not enough time or not the best equipment to play the video games available).
Soon the player loses control of the video games and the euphoria and excitement during the game increases more and more.
In order to get better and better results, the player spends more and more time in front of the screen. A psychic addiction develops, due to the feeling of happiness and victory. Even if he or she is not playing video games, the addict is thinking of new tactics and devices that could improve the gaming experience. The obsession with the virtual world is reflected in all of his activities, which are constantly oriented only towards the world of video games.
Threshold of tolerance
As time passes, the urge to play video games increases. The addict loses the perception of real time and wants to spend every moment playing video games. At first, he or she only plays on weekends, when he or she has the most free time.
Over time, he or she begins to play daily, in small blocks of time, such as two hours a day. As the psychic addiction increases, the amount of time spent playing video games increases to ten hours a day or more.
Worryingly, there have already been a few deaths of people who have played video games for more than 20 hours without interruption.
Symptoms of withdrawal
Playing video games for several hours slowly begins to disrupt the rhythm of life for the video game addicted person’s family. Daily obligations suffer from the addictive behavior and this leads to conflict with parents or partners.
The compulsive gamer loses interest in work, school, obligations, hobbies and routine. At first, he or she denies the existence of a problem and tries to minimize it. He or she looks for and finds justifications for spending all day at the computer. The compulsive gambler begins to lie to avoid possible punishment. Sometimes the need to play is stronger than the knowledge that the consequences will be negative. The gambling addict is aware that his or her behaviour is harmful to him or her, but cannot resist the urge.
Video game addiction and professional help
When the addict becomes aware that he or she has a problem, he or she will seek help from people around him or her. If they are minors, they are often completely unaware that they have a problem. In this case, parents or foster parents will refer the compulsive gambler to professionals on their own initiative.
If the addict is forbidden to play video games, he or she is confronted with pain and boredom and a feeling of sadness arises because he or she has lost something important. This influences his behaviour and he reacts in an irritable and nervous way. Once calm and reserved, the compulsive gambler becomes aggressive towards himself or others. He or she blames those close to him or her for depriving him or her of the source of happiness.
Changes in the addict’s personality
Soon the addict is unable to resist the temptations and finds a way to play video games again.
The video game. It starts all over again. The interest in video games pushes all other interests into the background. The addict changes his or her behavior to such an extent that those around him or her, as many people close to an addict report, often cannot recognize the addict anymore. Family members lose confidence in the addict and friends often turn their backs on the addict because he or she has no time or inclination to be with them and shows a total lack of interest in social life.
The incessant stress and the awareness that the boundaries with reality have long since disappeared lead to depression and regret. To relieve this unpleasant feeling, the person suffering from gambling addiction resorts to harmful psychoactive substances. This only makes the situation worse and leads to suicidal thoughts.
It is usually at this point that people seek help from our specialists.
Video game addiction and its impact on those around you
It is not known how many people die as a result of video games. However, we do know that this number is on the rise. People who are addicted often lay hands on themselves or on their relatives. The reason for this is their inability to cope with the frustration of withdrawing from video games.
Treatment of video game addiction
By influencing the mood change, nervousness and irritability also decrease, the whole psychological state stabilizes.
The phases of treatment are as follows:
- Diagnosis- this involves determining the physical and psychological condition of the patient. A standard diagnostic examination includes a urine test, a general blood test, a biochemical blood test, an electrocardiogram and an internal medicine examination. The mental status exam includes a psychodiagnosis (psychological tests determine the degree of addiction, the consequences of addiction on mental health, signs of mental disorders, depression and the degree of motivation of the patient to get well). Once all the results are obtained, they are analyzed by the medical team, which then develops an individual treatment plan. If the patient has chronic illnesses or other risk factors, additional tests are performed, including the following: MRI, EEG, ultrasound, X-ray, endoscopy, drug and narcotic concentration analysis, cardiological, neurological and endocrinological tests… In this case, these are additional examinations that are not included in the package price.
- Pharmacotherapy – at the beginning of the treatment it is necessary to regulate the psychological state of the patients with medication. This helps to eliminate depression, tension and nervousness. When the patient begins to address the problem objectively, the next phase of treatment follows.
- Treatment with medical devices – with the Neuro-Jet device, appropriate impulses act on the brain cells responsible for the secretion of endorphins and dopamine. The stimulation is painless, and during the treatment one feels vibrations and tingling. The entire procedure is monitored by computer. Trans-Air therapy normalizes both cerebral hemispheres. This neurophysiological method also helps to correct willpower and behavioral disorders as well as the pathological desire to play video games.
- Psychotherapy – it is practiced in different forms.
Individual psychotherapy means that the therapist works one-on-one with the patient. The patient will learn how to manage stress and re-establish relationships with other people. As part of this therapy, a daily activity plan is maintained (with the help of the therapist), which the patient will stick to during the outpatient treatment phase.
Educational psychotherapy addresses the cause of the illness. Patients are informed about the physical, psychological, social and professional consequences. Rules for behavior during the withdrawal phase are formulated and justified. Group psychotherapy – a group of patients resolve inner conflicts with the therapist and correct behavioral problems. It is made clear that the addiction problems can be solved and that other people suffer from the same problem.
Family psychotherapy – work with the patient’s family. Here, psychological consultations are carried out to solve problems within the family. It also includes the detection and elimination of conflicts present among family members.
- Pharmacohypnosis – Ibogaine is administered on the recommendation of the physician.
- Outpatient treatment – lasts 12 months and is carried out after discharge from the hospital. It includes ongoing follow-up and monthly check-ups. The goal is to maintain contact between the patient and the doctors so that the patient can receive specialized advice and support if needed.