Acknowledging one's addiction to video games, whether it's personal or observed in someone close, marks the crucial first step towards recovery. This realization often stems from physical exhaustion, behavioral changes, academic failure, or social withdrawal. However, it's vital to spot the early warning signs rather than the negative aftermath of addiction. The individual realizes that the excessive gaming hours are beginning to, or could eventually, harm both mental and physical health. Sometimes, the wake-up call comes from concerned friends or family, who should approach the situation with reassurance and understanding to avoid pushing the individual into further isolation and guilt.

What Defines Addiction?

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes addiction as a state of chronic or periodic dependency on a behavior (like social media, gaming, screen time, pornography, etc.) or substance (such as tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, and drugs). The person loses control over the activity, continues despite being aware of its harmful impact on their life.

Identifying Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction, also known as "gaming disorder" in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), is marked by an inability to control gaming. The individual becomes consumed by the game, playing longer than intended and neglecting daily activities and hobbies for gaming.

This addiction can be an escape from everyday problems and responsibilities, leading to indifference towards its detrimental consequences. In young children, the cognitive downsides of excessive gaming might not be immediately apparent, but it's crucial to remain vigilant and proactive. Long-term addiction can hinder cognitive development, manifesting symptoms like:

  • Disturbed sleep
  • Academic failure
  • Social isolation
  • Concentration and attention issues
  • Eating disorders and weight gain
  • Mental health issues (anxiety, depression)
  • Behavioral problems (aggression, impulsivity, violence)
  • Other addictions (to screens, tobacco, etc.)

In adults, psychological suffering, often marked by low self-esteem, can be a primary cause of addiction, sometimes accompanied by aggression or irritability.

Strategies for Recovery

Indulge in Pleasure

Reengage in and diversify pleasurable activities like music or sports. The initial difficulty or lack of enjoyment is normal; the key is persistence as the sense of satisfaction gradually returns.

Be Social

Reach out to others, even if you feel disconnected from their interests. Engaging with someone outside the gaming world can broaden your horizons and help break the game's hold.

Have a Gaming Group

While addiction is harmful, so is loneliness. Play different games with family or friends, switching from usual, excessive gaming to social games that steer clear of screens for a while.

Set Challenges

Resume rewarding activities. Set goals, make plans. Take control of the real world and prove to yourself that you can achieve constructive things beyond the screen.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Gamers often struggle with disrupted biological clocks and poor diet, impacting both mental and physical health. Regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and structured meal times can help regain control over your life and behavior.

Self-Reflection Ask yourself

Why do I game so much? Am I running from problems, and if so, what are they? Finding answers may be challenging, but that often indicates the question's importance.

Don't Panic

Over Relapses Feeling guilty after relapsing due to stress or tragedy is common. Unexpectedly finding oneself in front of a screen, reverting to old habits, doesn't mean failure. Relapses will diminish over time with the right practices and mindset.

Consider Psychotherapy

Overcoming addiction, especially to video games, often requires professional guidance. A psychologist can provide the necessary knowledge and experience to assist in regaining control over your behavior. Discuss your concerns and troubles openly; psychotherapy can help you game without fear of excess.

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