Although we might think of adolescents or pre-teens as having concerns with video games, there are many adult men and women who experience an addiction with gaming. He or she might be obsessed with playing solitaire or chess or online video games, such as DoTA, to the point where responsibilities don’t get met.
When it comes to a behavior – versus a substance that a person is addicted to – similar characteristics of an addiction apply.
For instance, if a person is engaging in that behavior to the point where they are excluding other areas of their life, the presence of an addiction is likely possible.
Furthermore, if there is a compulsion behind engaging in that behavior, meaning someone feels compelled to behave in a certain way then an addiction may exist. For instance, there are addictions to shopping, gambling, sexual behavior, and more recently, experts are noticing addictions to the Internet and video gaming.
There might be a compulsive need to continue to participate in those activities because of the psychological dependence that develops.
We tend to think that addiction means a dependence on drugs or alcohol, it’s easy to dismiss the psychological consequences of participating in certain activities again and again. Some find it difficult to describe excessive video gaming as an addiction.
However, it is possible to develop an addiction to behaviors and activities that becomes the sole focus of one’s life to the exclusion and detriment of other life-activities.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there is evidence that points to behaviors, such as gambling, having the same high, or rush in the brain, which is similar to the use of drugs. In that way, addictions can resemble the physiological symptoms that the use of drugs and alcohol might create.
The new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the clinical reference used by psychologists and therapists to diagnose their clients, includes a non-drug addiction diagnosis for any behavior that an individual has lost power over.
Previously, gambling or other addictions were categorized under Impulse Control Disorders. However, the recent version of the DSM now places non-substance addictions under a catchall category called “Behavioral Addiction, Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)”.
One form of a Behavioral Addiction is an addiction to playing video games. Currently, gaming and Internet addiction is recognized as an official psychiatric diagnosis, but no listing in the DSM. However, there is a growing movement to have both the Internet and gaming addiction added to the next edition of the DSM.
Some of the Symptoms for Gaming Addiction Include:
- Minimizing their computer use
- Lack of control
- Loss of time
- Negative impact on other areas of life
- Hiding from negative or uncomfortable feelings or situations
- Misuse of money
- Mixed feelings
- Difficulty meeting their responsibilities
- Work performance decreases
- Isolation from friends and family
- Experiencing euphoria with video game use
How to Help a Family Member
If you find that your family member’s use of video games qualifies as addictive and compulsive, you might want to seek mental health services. The above list is not complete but it can provide you with a list of signs to look for.
There are clinicians who provide support for this sort of behavioral addiction. In the meantime, you can encourage your family member to spend more time in nature. You can also plan family outings. In this way you can provide your family member with the opportunity to clear his or her head and find a new perspective on what’s important.
Yet, when there’s an addiction, having the opportunity to spend time outside or with friend and family may not stop the compulsive cycle. For this reason, inviting the support of a mental health professional is best.
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