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Video Game Addiction

in Behavioral

At an addiction treatment center in the Netherlands, teenagers and young adults begin detox by using the First Step, twelve-step groups emphasize self-admission or admitting they are powerless over their addiction. But these addicts aren't hooked on drugs or alcohol.
They are going cold turkey to break their overwhelming dependence on video games.

Although Video Game Addictioni hasn't been given an "official" diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), addiction-like behaviors with computer, video, and Internet gaming have noticeably increased among both teenagers and adults.

Like any addictive behavior, there are signs to look for if you suspect your teen might have a gaming addiction. Your teen need only exhibit two or three of these symptoms for his behavior to be considered addictive.
 
Symptoms of Video Game Addiction:
 
Preoccupation

  • Someone who is addicted to computer, video, or Internet gaming often exhibits an unusual preoccupation with the game or computer when he is away from it. The teen could seem distracted, irritable, or disinterested and may talk about the game almost constantly.

 
Justifying Computer Use

  • It's common for someone with addictive, computer-related behaviors to downplay the amount of time he/she spends in front of the TV or computer. The person may make many excuses, saying they need to be online and are doing their homework, or may outright lie.

 
At Work / Office

  • When a person is hooked on computer or video games, the work performance often suffers.
  • In many cases, the gamer has stayed up all night playing and is too tired to complete the daily tasks required at work. The employer may find them asleep on the job or failing to complete assignments on time, which could result in disciplinary action or even termination. What’s worse, some video game addicts will go so far as to play games during work

 
Lack of Control

  • A person who is addicted, or at risk of becoming addicted to gaming, is unable to control the amount of time she spends on the computer. She may go online with the intent to spend 15 or 20 minutes, but will keep extending the time until several hours have passed.

 
Loss of Time

  • Along the same lines, a person may sit down at his computer, again with the intent to spend only a few minutes, but completely lose track of time and suddenly find that several hours have passed. It is not unusual for someone with a gaming addiction to play through the night and only realize how much time has passed when the sun begins to rise.

 
Detrimental Impact on other areas of life

  • Because the person spends so much time on a video game console, other areas of life are neglected. He or She may grow distant from friends and family who had previously been close. School homework may go unfinished, causing grades to slip. In more extreme cases, some teens may even neglect personal hygiene, choosing to play video games rather than taking a shower.
     

Used to hide from bitter feelings or situations

  • Some people become addicted to gaming because they use it to self-medicate. When confronted with situations or feelings that are uncomfortable feeling sad, arguing with a friend, or getting a bad grade, the person may hide in the game as a method of avoidance.

 
Defensive and Denial

  • When confronted or asked about his time spent gaming, a person may become defensive. Denial is often an indication that something is wrong, especially if the person seems unconcerned that friends and family feel neglected or left out of his life.

 
Overspending - Misusage of Money

  • Someone who is addicted to video, computer, or Internet gaming will spend a disproportionate amount of money on computer-related items. The person will seem to be continually upgrading hardware, software packages, and accessories. This becomes an even greater problem if the person spends money that should be used for bills, groceries, and other necessities.

 
Guilty Feelings

  • As with any addiction, use of the "substance" – in this case, the video game – initially causes euphoric feelings, but that euphoria is quickly followed by guilt. Guilt may be felt either over what the person is doing while online or simply the amount of time he is spending at the computer.

 
Physical Consequences

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Dry Eyes
  • Migraines
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Backaches or Neck Pain
  • Eating Irregularities
  • Poor Personal Hygiene

 
You may also want to consider getting professional help for yourself or teenager. Someone who has experience dealing with addiction could help you or family member process the thoughts and feelings that initially led to the game addiction, as well as the emotions he has felt since admitting he needs help.

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