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Tackling Video Game Addiction

Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction (or dependency) is a complicated issue in our society. It affects both youth and adults. Like social media addiction, it is very easy for us to be engrossed in something that takes us into a different world. This world can give us a false sense of reality and cause us to prefer this reality to the real world. Today we are going to talk about what some of the signs and symptoms are for this type of dependency and how you can work on moving past it. 

What is video game addiction?

Video game addiction (or dependency) is when someone feels the compulsive need to play video games to the point it takes over their lives. It’s important to identify the point when video game codependency becomes a problem. In general, it becomes a problem when you start to notice that it is having negative effects on your life. For example, if you are unable to work, maintain relationships, or take care of yourself because of how often you play video games, you may be suffering from dependency. As with everything, there are different levels of severity when it comes to video game dependency.

What are some signs and symptoms of video game addiction?

The signs and symptoms of video game addiction are sometimes difficult to distinguish because they are not usually extremely obvious physical symptoms. If someone is struggling with video game dependency, they may feel like they cannot stop playing a game because they want to beat the next level or beat a certain component. Having a compulsive need to play games until you reach a certain level or beat a specific score can be viewed as a symptom of addiction as well.

Just like other addictions, video game dependency can be a result of an individual trying to escape from reality or numb their feelings. They may be avoiding a situation, relationship, mental illness, or specific unresolved trauma.

Like we mentioned before, there are some symptoms that might go unnoticed depending on how close you are to the person struggling with video game dependency. These may include not being honest about how long they are spending on games, feeling uneasy when they are not able to play their game, isolation because of spending too much time playing games.

What are the effects of video game addiction?

If you or someone you love is struggling with video game dependency, it can be helpful to educate yourself on the effects that can come from gaming too much. First, if you are addicted to gaming, you will likely struggle at work or school. This can have severe negative implications on career goals and can affect how successful you will be later on in life. In addition to this, your health will likely decline. When people are suffering from any type of addiction, the addiction triumphs all other things. This means that there will be other needs that go neglected. These needs include the basic needs of proper hygiene, a healthy diet, and healthy movement. By neglecting these needs, your health will decline depending on how long you are struggling with your video game dependency. Finally, there is a financial component with this type of addiction that can affect your quality of life as well. Video games and equipment can be extremely expensive depending on a variety of factors. If you are addicted to gaming, nothing will stop you from buying that newest game, that new gaming system, and so on. This can lead to grave financial consequences that can affect you later in life.

How do you recover from video game addiction?

There is no one specific way to recover from video game addiction or dependency. Finding what works for you will give you the best chances at recovery. There are different levels of treatment depending on the severity of an individual’s dependency. For example, there are inpatient facilities that can treat this type of addiction or there are outpatient options as well. Many people that struggle with addiction find the 12-step program to be extremely helpful when recovering from their addiction. 

You can also work independently with a therapist in an attempt to recover from your addiction. In this case, it can be helpful to find a professional that specializes in video game addiction or dependency, so they are able to help you and your specific challenges. In theory, any addiction counselor would be able to help but working with someone that has experience with this specific addiction can be helpful.

There are also support groups for pretty much every type of addiction out there! These groups may meet locally or online via video conferencing. Either way, this option can be a great one because it enforces the idea that you are not alone in your recovery. You can also get work with a sponsor (or mentor) in the process. In most cases, a sponsor is someone that is further along in recovery than you are and can support you with things they have learned.

With any form of addiction or mental health issues, it can be terrifying to ask for help. If you are reading this article, you probably already know that your habits with video games are not healthy. Consider reaching out to a trusted friend or family member and explain how you are struggling. You can give them as much information as you would like but having someone to keep you accountable can be helpful for your recovery. They can also help you get the help that you need. Addiction is a scary, unpredictable, and debilitating disease. Living a life with addictions (of any kind) is not living at all. You deserve to live a life where you are free of your dependency of video games and gaming in general. Recovery is possible, recovery is out there, and recovery is worth it.

Getting Help

If you or someone you love are showing signs of video game addiction, consider reaching out to us for help. We offer online counseling appointments to patients in the Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio areas. We also offer in-person appointments at our DFW (Southlake) office. Together, we can work through your addiction and get you back in control. 


Dr. Michael Messina

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