Last updated: 11/1/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 5 minutes
In today’s modern, fast-paced world, addictions have taken on many new forms, with computer gaming addiction being one of the newest ones to come out. While drugs and alcohol represent the most well-known forms of addiction, a person can become addicted to an activity in much the same way a substance-based addiction unfolds.
Finding help for a computer gaming addiction starts with recognizing that a problem exists. Someone struggling with computer gaming addiction will likely start to show certain noticeable signs of distress and discomfort.
Once a person recognizes the need for treatment, the next step entails considering his or specific treatment needs. Like drug and alcohol’s effects, a computer gaming addiction can negatively impact different people’s lives in different ways. Likewise, the various treatment options available help to address different levels or severities of computer gaming addiction.
Computer Gaming Addiction vs. Substance-Based Addictions
Substance-based addictions are relatively easy to spot considering how drugs and alcohol can wreak havoc on the brain and body. Activity or process-based addictions may not be quite as easy to recognize; especially when the activity in question is a normal part of everyday life.
Computers have become a necessary part of daily life to the point where work and home life both make ample use of the computer and internet. Computer gaming exists as an offshoot of computer and/or internet addiction.
As a process-based addiction, computer gaming triggers many of the same neuro-chemical reactions as drugs and alcohol do, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Whereas drugs and alcohol directly interfere with brain chemical processes, processed-based addictions entail activities that act on the brain in the same way that drugs and alcohol do.
Signs of Computer Gaming Addiction
As with any type of addiction, the focus of the addiction becomes an obsession, be it drugs or computer gaming. Obsessions in general drive a person’s thoughts, behaviors and actions. The same goes for computer gaming. Ultimately, there’s no real different between an addiction involving computer gaming and one involving some form of drug use except for the focus of the addict’s attention.
Since obsessions tend to take up more and more time and energy over time, signs of computer gaming addiction inevitably show up within major areas of a person’s daily life. Recognizing these signs becomes an essential first step towards finding the type of help most needed.
Signs to watch out for include:
- Problems at work
- Loss of employment
- Isolating from friends and family
- Decline in personal grooming and appearance
- Neglecting responsibilities around the house
- Preoccupation with computer gaming, thinking about it all the time
- Replacing other enjoyable activities with playing computer games
- Noticeable fluctuations in mood
Consider Your Treatment Needs
In general, the longer a person engages in addictive computer gaming behaviors the more severe the problem. With each gaming session, the “high” experienced causes considerable alterations in brain chemical processes.
Over time these changes become ingrained to the point where addicts lose the ability to stop or cut back on computer gaming activities. In effect, the longer a person continues gaming the more difficult it is to break the addiction cycle.
Finding detox treatment help for a computer gaming addiction marks the first step towards getting a grip on the problem. Since computers have become such an integral part of everyday life, detoxing from computer gaming has as much to do with overcoming the urge to play games as it does remaining focused when spending time on the computer.
Detox treatment entails going “cold turkey,” whether that be not playing games or avoiding the computer altogether. Within the confines of a treatment program, there’s no actual need to carry out daily tasks on the computer so a person will likely remain off the computer for the duration of the program.
While it may be possible to abstain from gaming on one’s own through sheer force of will, keep in mind any relapse episodes will only make it that much harder to break the a computer gaming addiction.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment Options
Inpatient and outpatient treatment options are the two main choices when it comes to finding help for a computer gaming addiction. Inpatient and outpatient treatment differ in terms of the intensity of treatment provided.
Inpatient programs require addicts to live at the facility for the length of the program, whereas outpatient programs schedule treatment sessions while participants live at home. Ultimately, the degree of damage or dysfunction brought on by computer gaming addiction determines the level of treatment most needed, according to Shippensburg University.
People coming off long-term or severe addictions will likely require inpatient help, while someone at the beginning stages of a problem may only require outpatient treatment. With inpatient programs, living on the grounds for the duration of the program enables a person to focus his time and energy on taking the needed steps to breaking a computer gaming addiction.
Someone who still has work and family responsibilities to tend to likely still has some degree of control over a computer gaming habit. For this reason, outpatient programs allow for a more flexible treatment schedule while at the same time providing the level of support and guidance needed.
In actuality, both types of programs offer the same range of treatment interventions. The overall difference lies in the intensity of treatment. Treatment intervention types may take the form of –
- Drug education counseling
- Group therapy
- Support group attendance
- Individual psychotherapy
After so many months or years of computer gaming “highs,” the brain’s chemistry has undergone considerable change. This degree of change often creates conditions where psychological disorders can develop.
Someone who’s developed symptoms of depression and/or experiences considerable anxiety on a frequent basis may well be battling a psychological condition that’s developed as a result of computer gaming addiction. Under these conditions, a more intense treatment approach (such as inpatient help) is needed.
Co-occurring conditions, such as computer gaming addiction and depression (or anxiety) tend to reinforce one another. For someone battling a computer gaming addiction and a psychological disorder, getting help for one condition and not the other leaves a person open for relapse and/or a worsening of disorder symptoms.