Video game addiction is more than a simple desire to play video games - it is a need and compulsion for video games that cannot be controlled. Addictions, whether they be to video games, substances or work, are psychological behaviors that lead to unhealthy consequences, both physically and emotionally. If you know someone who is addicted to video games, you may have already noticed that the person becomes irritable when he is unable to play his games. When the signs of addiction present themselves, encourage him to seek help and treatment.
Prohibit video game use, if you have a child who's addicted to gaming. Helping someone who is addicted to video games requires the same restrictions as if you were helping someone detox from alcohol. Abstinence from video games is crucial to the individual being able to recover from the addiction. Exposure to video games will only feed the hunger and intensify the addiction. If you are helping a friend or neighbor detox from video game addiction, ask if you can keep the gaming system at your house for the time being. That way, the individual does not have the temptation of it at home. Or, with permission, lock up the gaming system in the closet or safe and hold onto the key so that the individual cannot access it.
Occupy the individual's time with other things. At first, it will be a challenge to get the individual to understand that there are other enjoyable things to do besides playing video games. Help the person identify a list of things she would like to do or try. Recommend things like exercise, going to the movies, socializing with friends and trying out new hobbies. Use the game for inspiration. For instance, if she enjoyed playing tennis video games, encourage her to try playing the sport in "real life."
Use a reward system. It is difficult for a video game addict to see why his addiction is such a terrible thing. After all, he's just playing a game, and game-play is not illegal. So when detoxing from his addiction, it is important to reward him with positive reinforcement so that he eventually wants to stop gaming. A reward system might be monetary, such as buying the individual small trinkets as gifts for each week that he is able to abstain from gaming.
Establish healthy coping strategies for the person addicted to video games. Now that she is "detoxing" and unable to play video games, she will need things in place to help her cope with that loss. Coping strategies can include journaling about her frustrations, using art to express how the detox makes her feel, and working on puzzles to calm herself when she starts to feel agitated.
Find a professional counselor who specializes in video game addiction. A counselor can talk to the individual about video game addiction so that the addict starts to believe that it is unhealthy. Counselors can also try to uncover the reason for the addiction. For instance, through therapy work, a counselor may come to find that the reason the individual is addicted to video games is because he uses gaming as an escape from a particular fear or insecurity.
Tips & Warnings
- Sometimes video game addiction calls for the help of a psychiatrist who can prescribe medications to help calm the individual's mind as she detoxes. A counselor can recommend a psychiatrist only if the individual does not make progress with other forms of treatment. Medications should be a last resort.
- Video game addiction treatment centers are available for serious conditions of addiction. This is something that a psychiatrist may recommend if medication does not help the individual overcome feelings of depression and anxiety from withdrawals from gaming.
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