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Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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More than two billion people worldwide play video games; consequently, the revenue generated by the video gaming industry is only going up. Most of these players spend 6 hours every week playing their favourite games, and for most of them, it is merely a fun pastime that helps them relax and connect with friends. However, among these standard video games are some individuals who escalate into an addictive disorder that potentially takes over their lives.

In recent years, smartphones have surpassed consoles and computers as the most preferred gaming device. Video games are easily available as mobile applications with different modes, such as multiplayer and online role-playing modes. Every day, these popular games draw millions of players into their virtual worlds, and many of these people become dependent on them.

Like all the good things in life, video games are also best when played in moderation. Otherwise, unhealthy habits can easily develop, forcing players into obsessive relationships with their favourite video games to the point that they start jeopardising their lives. For such people seeking gaming addiction help is the only way out of this vicious cycle that, if left untreated, can destroy lives.

Gaming addiction refers to a type of behavioural addiction characterised by a pattern of persistent and frequent gaming, despite its negative effects on finances, career, or relationships. Gaming addiction can be categorised into the following two types:

Single-Player Video game Addiction

People with this type of addiction love playing games that involve only one player with a clear path or mission to complete. Such games usually feature a narrative to accompany progress as you go through the game.

Multi-Player Video Game Addiction

Also known as online gaming addiction, it includes games in which you can connect with other people based in different locations across the world through the internet. Such games are more likely to induce the symptoms of gaming addiction as they do not have an official ending like the single-player game.

While it is possible to keep enjoying a video game in moderation or even play it for an extended period after purchasing it, there is a clear distinction between an avid gamer and a gaming addict. These key distinctions are mentioned below:

  • Playing video games to change your mood
  • Being preoccupied with games all the time
  • Developing tolerance to gaming and always feel the need to play them more frequently than you currently are
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop playing

If you or a dear one is exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned above, remember that help for video game addiction is readily available at most addiction centres in the UK. However, until you convince yourself or your loved one to join a rehab, here are some practical steps to consider for minimising the addictive behaviour on your own:

  • Come up with a healthy daily schedule that you can easily follow and implement
  • Delete all video games from your computer and mobile phone. Log out from any social media websites that serve as a trigger to gaming addiction.
  • Dedicate a few hours of the day for gaming and sticking to this rule
  • Postpone the urge to play video games all the time
  • Engage in healthy hobbies and leisure activities, such as gardening, reading books, and socialising with people in real life
  • Develop healthy coping skills related to nutrition and exercise
  • Remove all digital devices from your bedroom
  • Be mindful about acquiring unhealthy coping mechanisms, including overeating, gambling or substance use

If your video game usage is too high and potentially impairing some or all aspects of life, despite your efforts to control it, professional help from an addiction specialist is the last resort.

Treatment for video game addiction may require a short period of complete abstinence in addition to engaging in activities that help clients learn how to live in the real world. Particularly in cases of teenage gaming addiction, experts deem it necessary to work on clients’ social skills as most teens with this problem are unable to communicate with other individuals in real life comfortably. They have spent so much time in a virtual gaming world that their brains are not capable of interacting with people outside of it.

What makes a recovery from gaming addiction particularly difficult is that technology has become an essential part of everyday life. It is next to impossible to avoid it altogether, even for gaming addicts. Hence, the goal of treatment is to help them learn how to use technology responsibly.

Thankfully, many addiction therapists and counsellors with expertise in gaming addiction are available at UK rehabs to help those struggling with this issue. The treatment offered at these facilities is usually similar to the one used for treating other addictions, like substance abuse. Different levels of care, including daycare, outpatient programmes, and residential treatment, are routinely offered to all clients.

The following different types of therapy are used to overcome gamin addiciton in a rehab:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of talking therapy used in different forms of addiction management plans to help clients proactively address the underlying reasons behind their addictive natures.

Family Therapy

This type of therapy is particularly useful for gaming addicts who are in conflict with their families at home and use these games as an escape from confrontations.

Group Therapy

Group therapy sessions are particularly beneficial for people trying to overcome their gaming addictions. These sessions allow them to accept that their addiction is not unique and make them realise that there are many other people with similar struggles as yours. This keeps clients motivated and focused on achieving recovery.

If your addiction to games is particularly severe, you might be suggested to enrol in an inpatient treatment programme. Such programmes take place in an environment with little to no access to gaming technology. Moreover, a multidisciplinary team is constantly working to take care of you and lead you to recovery through multiple therapies and counselling sessions.

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