Video game addiction is a growing global concern. Video games are estimated to be played by two billion people around the world, and as many as 4 % of them are addicted.
In 2018, the World Health Organization classified video game addiction as an addictive disorder. According to research, the majority of patients are around 25 years of age. The statistics change from year to year as children increasingly come into contact with video games. About the same number of men and women play video games, but men are more often addicted.
What is the difference between video game enthusiasts and addicts who need expert help? An addict is, by definition, a person who is occupied with video games to such an extent that he or she cannot perform daily activities normally. All segments of life are affected and neglected, as priority is given to playing games, regardless of the negative consequences it brings.
Video game addiction and its effects
Video game addiction leaves numerous physical health consequences. Addicts have problems with vision, pain in the neck, their entire musculature bends because of many hours of being in improper body position. Insufficient movement and long seating before a computer may result in leg cramps.
In order to save time, addicts avoid preparing food, and instead opt for unhealthy industrial foodstuffs to consume ‘on the go’. This badly affects their digestive organs and metabolism. They become obese or, if avoid eating, malnourished. Often this problem is associated with dehydration. Wanting to get better results in the video game world, patients often skip meals, so it happens that they collapse.
Many negative consequences are also reflected in the psyche of the addict. They are often desocialized, isolated from the rest of society, without the capacity for empathy and self-control. If treatment is not started on time, patients have suicidal thoughts and often try to harm others.
Treating video game addiction is in many ways similar to treating a gambling addict. Some of the symptoms that indicate a need for treatment are increased tolerance, development of a mental need, loss of control, obsessive need to play when the video game terminates, personality change, reduced interest in the outside world…
Video game playing initially happens spontaneously, in moments of leisure. With time spent in the gaming world, players’ skills improve. He manages to discover tricks that will allow him to achieve better results. As a player with a high number of points goes up in the rankings, he feels a growing sense of success and power.
All this provokes the admiration of other players in the surrounding who cannot achieve such good results for various reasons (lack of time and top-notch playing equipment).
Soon, they lose control over the entire act of playing games, and the euphoria and excitement during the game increase.
Wanting to get even better results, the player spends more time in front of the screen. Mental dependence is created, based on a sense of victory and success. Even when not playing the game, the addict thinks of new tactics and devices that could enhance the gaming experience. Obsessed with the virtual world, they turn all the activities in the same direction, which is the world of video games.
As time goes by, the desire to play video games becomes more common. The addict loses his awareness of real time and tries to spend every moment playing. Initially, games are only played on weekends when the person has the most spare time.
Over time, playing will become daily, but at shorter intervals, for example, two hours during the day. As mental addiction increases, time spent playing increases to ten or even more hours each day.
A worrying fact is that several deaths have been registered with people playing video games continuously for more than 20 hours.
Symptoms of withdrawal
Hours of playing games begin to disrupt the stable flow of life of the addict’s family. Addictive behavior is at the expense of daily obligations and this will lead to conflict with parents or partner.
Interest in work, school, duties, hobbies, previous routine is lost. The person initially denies the problem, trying to minimize it, seeking and finding excuses for staying at the computer all day. The addict begins to lie to his surroundings to avoid possible sanctions. Sometimes the desire to play is stronger than the awareness of its harm. Players know that what they are doing is endangering them, but they simply cannot resist the urge.
Video game addiction and expert help
When a person realizes they have a problem, they will seek help from people in their area. When it comes to minors, sometimes they will not even notice the problem. The parents or guardians of the addicts then take them to a specialist on their own initiative.
When deprived of the playing games, the addict is faced with suffering and boredom, he feels sad about losing something important. This affects behaviors that become irritable and edgy. By then calm and reticent, the patient becomes aggressive towards others and towards himself. He blames his family for being denied a source of pleasure.
Change in the addict’s personality
Soon, the person fails to resist the temptation and finds a way to participate in the video game again. The whole circle starts from the beginning, interest in games suppresses all other interests. The person changes their behavior so much that his close ones often point out they cannot recognize him. The family loses trust in that person. Often friends turn their backs on the addict because he does not have time or will to socialize with them and is completely uninterested in social life.
The constant stress and the awareness that the border with reality has long since been lost leads to depression and remorse. In order to get rid of the unpleasant feeling, the person resorts to harmful psychoactive substances. This further aggravates the situation and awakens suicidal thoughts.
The help of our experts is most often sought by people in this stage of the disease.
Video game addiction and its consequences
The number of people whose deaths are directly or indirectly related to video games is unknown but is known to tend to rise. Addicts often try to harm not only themselves but also their loved ones. The reason for this is their inability to endure the frustration caused by the inability to play video games.
Video game addiction treatment
Influencing mood swings will reduce nervousness and irritability, and the overall mental state will stabilize.
Stages in treatment:
- Diagnostics – the physical and mental state of the patient is determined. Typical diagnostic examinations include urine test, general blood test, biochemical blood test, ECG, and medical examination by an internist. Examination for the assessment of mental state includes psychodiagnosis (psychological tests to determine the level of addiction, the consequences of addiction to mental health, signs of mental disorders, the presence of depression and the degree of motivation to overcome the disease). After diagnostics, the physician team analyzes the results and develops a treatment plan. If the patient is suffering from chronic diseases or has other risk factors, additional tests are performed. These include MRT, EEG, ultrasound, X-ray, endoscopy, medicine and drug concentration analysis, cardiologist, neurologist, endocrinologist examinations … These are all additional tests that are not included in the price of the package.
- Pharmacotherapy – at the beginning of treatment, the patient’s mental state must be stabilized using medications. This will eliminate depression, tension and nervousness. When the patient begins to realistically look at the current situation, they can move on to the next level of treatment.
- Medical device treatment – Through appropriate impulses, the Neuro Jet device acts on the brain cells responsible for secreting endorphin and dopamine. Stimulation is painless and only vibrations and tickling is felt during the treatment. The whole procedure is controlled by a computer. Normalization of both cerebral hemispheres is achieved by Trans air therapy. This neurophysiological method corrects disorders of will, behavior and pathological desire to play games.
- Psychotherapy – practiced in several different forms. Individual psychotherapy involves the individual work of a therapist with the patient. The patient will learn to cope with stress as well as to re-establish relationships with other people. This type of therapy involves keeping a plan of daily activities (with the help of a therapist) that the patient will adhere to during the outpatient phase of treatment. Educational psychotherapy reveals the cause of the disease. Patients are pointed to physical, psychological, social and occupational consequences. The rules of behavior in abstinence are highlighted and explained. Patients also watch special films about the consequences of addiction. Group psychotherapy – A group of patients resolves internal conflicts and corrects behavioral disorders together with the therapist. They are explained that addiction problems are solvable and that there are more people with the same problem. Family psychotherapy – involves working with the patient’s family. It is psychological counseling focused on solving problems in family relationships. This includes identifying and eliminating conflicts that exist among family members.
- Pharmacohypnosis – Ibogaine, administered as recommended by a doctor.
- Outpatient treatment – lasts up to 12 months and is performed after leaving the hospital. This includes ongoing support and regular monthly checks. The goal is to keep the patient in touch with the doctor to get professional advice or help if needed.