Is your gaming becoming a problem?
- Do you find yourself playing computer games for longer periods?
- Have people close to you said your behaviour is aggressive or angry?
- You struggle to empathise emotionally
- You prefer interacting with people via computer screens than bothering with socialising
- You find you’re easily distracted, and struggle to concentrate
- Do you have low self-esteem?
- Become verbally or physically aggressive when someone suggests you stop playing
- Turn to gaming to escape difficult situations
- Find yourself missing showers and meals to play
- Get reports of poor performance at work or school.
- Lie to hide gaming activities
If you have answered yes to two or more of the above questions, then it could be you have a problem with gaming. You can talk to someone about this in confidence by contacting Serena House where we’ll put you in touch with a counsellor or therapist who knows how hard gaming addiction can be.
What is gaming addiction?
Game addiction – just like substance misuse, is a drug that can take over your life. And because it’s legal it can be all the more difficult to spot the danger signs.
Like gambling addiction, video game addiction is a clinical impulse control disorder, which means that as time goes on a sufferer requires more of the experience to reach the same dopamine pleasure reward in the brain. They even get withdrawal symptoms if they can’t play, becoming irritable and despondent.
Another clue that a person is addicted to video games, according to researchers at Kansas State University, is that they may play video games to alter their mood, as a form of escapism.
Video games and computer games, often allow their players to create a gaming persona that’s very different to their normal everyday personalities. This can be very seductive, as someone who might be shy can be talkative and charismatic, or someone passive and physically weak can become a confident and powerful superhero in a fantasy world without consequences. This escapist lure is what many experts believe makes video gaming so addictive.
Those who play for hours each day often have devastating effects on their wider lives, becoming withdrawn and isolated, and prioritising gaming at the expense of other responsibilities such as work or school. Younger addicts often miss out on critical education and important social development, while adults tend to experience deteriorating relationships and problems with their employers.
Signs you’re addicted to gaming
Anyone of any age and walk of life can become a gaming addict. However, researchers suggest that some people may be more susceptible to this addiction, if they have conditions that can affect their behaviour such as ADHD or Asperger’s Syndrome, and make it more difficult for them to resist the pull of gaming.
Those who study video game addiction also believe that the problem has a psychological factor, and that compulsive gamers retreat to a fantasy world to escape their troubles and difficult emotions.
As well as the mental health issues linked to excessive gaming, such as chronic anxiety, OCD behaviours and depression, there’s harmful physical effects too. Extreme gamers tend to live an unhealthy lifestyles, and gain weight as a result of their sedentary lifestyles and tendency to eat high-calorie convenience foods and drinks. As a result, gamers run the risk of obesity, diabetes, and in extreme cases heart attacks and blood clots.
In addition, they may have poor personal hygiene and hormonal imbalances from sleep deprivation.
Those in the grip of game addiction can also suffer from what is known as ‘video gamer’s thumb’, a repetitive injury resulting in inflamed tendons and swelling.
While the internet has contributed to the scale of gaming with online subscription games, and made it possible to play against anytime of the night or day, researchers have found that people can become just as addicted to ‘cheap and silly’ games on mobile phones or social media.
Why a medical detox from gaming is important
The solitary nature of gaming means that once an addict has allowed their life to shrink in order to spend more time playing, they have less opportunities for help in overcoming their dependency.
This is where a residential detox clinic like Serena House comes into its own. Here, you can feel safe and supported in a game-free atmosphere that will allow you to learn healthy coping skills in a contained environment. Here, with the help of an integrated specialist team of medical staff and therapists, you’ll have the best opportunity to receive the help you need.
Treatments will include, one-to-one counselling and small group sessions, to help you understand how gaming is related to your emotions and moods, and sense of life goals and rewards. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), an affective talking therapy, is used to set goals and overcome the thinking that sparks compulsive gaming.
Once you are ready to leave, you will be offered an aftercare package, so you can return to see therapists and be given other resources such as access to12-step programmes, to ensure that your journey to wellness is a smooth and successful one. This way, you can feel empowered to take back control, rather than feel you’re being controlled by gaming, and be free to live a happier more fulfilled life.
Serena House is a private gaming addiction detox clinic in the heart of London
Talk to one of our counsellors on 020 3582 4288.