Clearly, today’s digital screens are as involved in our daily lives as toilet paper. Especially in times of a pandemic, or a situation that involves being stuck at home or indoors. People have become more and more aware about blue screen entertainment effects on a person's brain as well as behavior. Blue screen entertainment includes television, cell phone and tablet use, computer use, and video game play. And the hypnotic power of immersive and interactive digital screens on young minds is an altogether different animal. Does a loved one need video game addiction treatment? Do you have an inkling that you, yourself, may need video game addiction treatment? If so, bringing awareness to negative behaviors is the first step in addressing whether addiction is ruining yours or a loved one's everyday life.

What Is Video Game Addiction?

Video game addiction can be defined as obsession-related, compulsive, or uncontrolled use of video games, in a way that causes problems in other areas of the person's life. Video games include computer games, console games, arcade machine games, advanced calculator games, and even cell phone use games. Video game addiction is obvious when over-use increases overtime, despite negative consequences to the user of the technology. Today, video game addiction is a common concern among teenagers and young adults. Individuals find the realm of video games more comforting than the real world, and use it as an escape route. Individuals with a video game addiction often get into trouble at school or work, or with a partner. Some of the signs of video game-related addiction include:

  • Feeling an urge to play video games for more than 3-4 hours a day.
  • Procrastinating important commitments and day-to-day activities for video games.
  • Choosing to play video games all through the night without getting proper sleep.
  • Reluctant to spend time with family, and friends.
  • Urge to spend more money and borrow loans to afford video games.

Video Game Addiction Vs. Gaming Disorder

Gaming disorder is a pattern of behavior in an individual where video games take precedence over other commitments and daily activities. Individuals that suffer from this kind of addiction choose to spend multiple hours a day on a game and prefer to remain in isolation from friends and family members. Addiction to video games is as serious as substance abuse and alcoholism and can present withdrawal symptoms like headaches, insomnia, fatigue, and depression. Video game addiction affects the brain by triggering the release of dopamine, which results in reinforcing behaviors.

The Alarming Rise In Video Game Addiction Of Children And Adolescents

Studies have determined that an alarming 97% of teenage boys and 83% of teenage girls play video games in America. And children that develop a habit of playing video games at an early age are more likely to develop an addiction to it during their teenage years. Furthermore, parents should understand that spending too much time playing video games can negatively impact your child’s intellectual growth and participation at school. It's not uncommon for a child with a video game obsession to do poorly at school. Not to mention suffer socially as they also tend to lack an interest in sports and other extracurricular activities. These children also show high risks of developing eyesight problems and mental health issues. If your child spends too much time playing video games, getting them the help at an early stage may help their future. Does a loved one need video game addiction treatment? Then start by getting in touch with Dr. Kardaras, Omega Recovery's chief clinical officer, expert in treating video game addictions, and co-founder of Maui Recovery.

Possible Causes Of Video Game Addiction

Addictive By Design

Most people do not realize that video games are designed with a thorough understanding of compulsive behavior psychology. This ensures that a customer remains hooked to the game at all times. Playing video games offers players an immersive experience that leads to the secretion of large amounts of dopamine in the human brain. Continuous exposure to large amounts of dopamine can structurally compromise your brain's health and lead to mental health disorders.

Dopamine And Its Role In Video Game Addiction

But, in order to fully understand tech addiction, we need to understand the brain’s reward system and the impact of dopaminergic behaviors on the reward pathway. How dopaminergic (dopamine activating) a behavior correlates very highly with the addictive potential of that behavior. Dopamine is the feel-good neurotransmitter that’s the most critical element in the addiction process. When a person performs an action that satisfies a need or fulfills a desire, dopamine is released into the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells beneath the cerebral hemispheres that are associated with pleasure and reward, also known as the brain’s pleasure center. In simple terms, engaging in dopaminergic behavior increases dopamine levels so that the dopamine-reward pathway is activated. Therefore, telling the individual to repeat what he or she just did in order to get that feel-good dopamine reward again.

Research has shown that people who are predisposed toward addiction have lower baseline levels of dopamine, and other feel-good neurotransmitters such as endorphins and norepinephrine. A person is more likely to get hooked on any behavior that increases dopamine, and that's just science. Simply because an addicted person's brain will crave dopamine more than those people with normal baseline neurotransmitter levels.

Treatment for Technology And Video Game Addiction

Does a loved one need video game addiction treatment? It's important to understand that the first step to treating addiction is recognizing that a problem exists. One of the primary problems with the Internet is the lack of accountability online. Users are hidden behind a screen and often engage in behavior that they would never do in person. Clinical programs and treatment modalities can help give an addicted person back their life. Some centers offer exceptional programs for video game addiction recovery. One such center is Maui Recovery, who incorporates “Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes” into their clinical program. This means unplugging from our devices, engaging in a healing community, physical exercise, and immersing our clients into nature. Maui Recovery also offers traditional evidence-based therapy to treat technology addiction.

Maui’s founder and Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Nicholas Kardaras has spent almost 20 years in NY helping thousands of young people and adults. Not only to overcome their mental health and/or addiction challenges, but also help them discover their true potential. At Maui Recovery we have one of the most cutting-edge and powerful therapeutic programs in the country. And thanks to Dr. Kardaras, it was designed by one of America’s leading clinicians in addiction treatment.

Examples Of Addiction Treatment Modalities

A qualified video game addiction center will have staff members trained in a variety of evidence-based treatment modalities. These interventions/strategies are practiced in individual and group therapy sessions, and daily psychoeducational/didactic groups.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a treatment modality and a major aspect of our program. It is very common for individuals struggling with screen addiction to experience destructive and negative thinking or maladaptive thought patterns. Since our cognition affects our wellbeing, changing harmful thought patterns will help clients recognize their ability to practice alternative ways of thinking. It also serves to regulate distressing emotions and harmful behavior. As an evidence-based treatment modality, CBT is a proven effective treatment for substance use disorders, behavioral addictions, and specific mental health diagnoses. An active therapeutic modality, CBT is present-oriented, problem-focused, and goal-directed.

Motivational Interviewing (MI):

Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative and therapeutic conversation between licensed clinicians and clients that addresses the common problem of ambivalence for change. As defined by William Miller, the creator of MI, its purpose is to strengthen a person's own motivation for and commitment to change, in a manner that is consistent with the person's beliefs and values. Therefore, rather than imposing or forcing changes, we “meet the person where the person is”. Therefore, helping him or her move toward their goals by drawing out and building their readiness to change.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT):

Similar to CBT, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) helps clients identify, challenge, and replace their destructive thoughts and convictions with healthier, adaptive thoughts. Empirical studies demonstrate that this process incites emotional well-being and goal achievement.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT):

DBT teaches clients how to regulate their emotions to reduce the self-destructive behaviors that derive from extreme, intense emotions. Primarily a skill-building approach, DBT focuses on the development of four key skill sets; Distress Tolerance, Emotion regulation, Mindfulness (to live in the moment and fully experience emotions), and Interpersonal Effectiveness.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MSBR):

Developed by Dr. Jon Cabot-Zinn, MSBR is a sequential method that teaches the individual who is struggling with racing and impulsive thoughts on how to be in the “here and now”. By focusing on the breath or on an object in the room, the client slowly becomes able to collapse their awareness into the present moment.

Seeking Safety (And Other Trauma-Focused Therapies):

Developed under a grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) by Lisa M. Najavits, Ph.D., Seeking Safety is a present-focused therapy that helps clients attain safety from trauma (including PTSD) by emphasizing coping skills, grounding techniques and education. This highly effective, research-based therapy has seven key principles to help clients attain safety in their thinking, emotions, behaviors, and relationships. This integrated trauma treatment focuses on ideals to counteract the loss of ideals that is experienced in mental health issues.

EMDR:

EMDR is an evidence-based modality that has proven to be very effective in the treatment of trauma and PTSD. Which are oftentimes the underlying issues that an addict is self-medicating. Thus, clinical staff trained in EMDR use this method to address and assist persons who have experienced trauma, which is significantly negatively impacting their recovery. EMDR incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements; this form of stimulation is thought to “unfreeze” the brain’s information processing system. This is done in the amygdala and hippocampus that was frozen during or after the extreme stress of the traumatic event.

Recovery-Oriented Challenge Therapy:

Sometimes also called Adventure Therapy or Outdoor Behavioral Health (OBH), this evidence-based technique is centered on an activity or “adventure” in which a clinical professional can actively engage with clients. Examples include group challenges, outdoor activities, ropes courses, equine therapy, games, or other skill-building healing activities. They are designed to help clients identify strengths and skills, build social support, strengthen their sense of focus or control, and address basic recovery issues. These groups also assist with the development of self-care, boundaries, accountability, and trust. In addition, just being outdoors and immersed in nature has itself been proven to be therapeutic for a person stuck in a sedentary and addictive indoor lifestyle.

Experiential Therapies Including Psychodrama

Many clients, especially younger clients, trapped in addictive and dysfunctional lifestyles, often benefit greatly from action-based and potentially transformative experiences. In psychodrama, the client can relive scenes from earlier in their lives that may have been turning points or “stuck” points in their addictive slide. The client is able to relive – and through the help of the clinician – change the toxic scene into one of breakthrough and empowerment.

In addition to these clinical modalities, Maui Recovery will also offer certain alternatives/holistic services for treatment. Services that can help alleviate stress, anxiety, cravings, and promote overall wellness. All of which have been proven to help a person with video game addiction maintain a healthy mind-body-spirit balance which aids in recovery. Such holistic services that are provided at Maui Recovery include:

  • Meditation Groups
  • Restricted Environmental Stimulus Therapy (R.E.S.T.) AKA “Flotation Therapy”
  • Biofeedback
  • Reiki
  • Acupuncture and Acupressure
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Art Therapy/Creative Expression
  • Yoga

Why Maui Recovery Can Help With Video Game Addiction

Maui Recovery is a holistically oriented counseling and wellness center that offers comprehensive services and treatment to clients and their families that are struggling with video game addiction amongst other mental health disorders. Our treatment philosophy embraces the notion that all people have the capacity to grow, flourish, and self-actualize once they break free from the grip of their addiction. We honor the concept of the Omega Point, a term coined by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, which he used to describe the pinnacle of human consciousness and evolution.

In order to help our clients reach their full potential, we provide licensed clinicians and certified counselors and mental health specialists at every step. At Maui Recovery we use a variety of therapeutic techniques and evidence-based modalities to assist our clients in overcoming their challenges. Our goal is to help clients feel “more comfortable in their own skin” so that they can meaningfully move forward in their lives. Therefore, helping to find their purpose and discover their true, authentic selves.

The Clinical Staff at Maui Recovery’s Mental Health Treatment Center

Our clinical staff is a multidisciplinary team of advanced degreed individuals specializing in the recovery path for clients of all walks of life. Many of our support staff that specialize in other types of therapeutic modalities (i.e. Reiki, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, Yoga, Neurofeedback, etc.) are trained, licensed, and certified in their respective modalities. While not a requirement, Maui Recovery understands the critical importance of clinicians and staff are not only appropriately educated and credentialed, but who also embrace a strong recovery foundation in their own lives. Indeed, a foundation of recovery and extensive clinical experience offers the best clinical outcome opportunities for our client population.

Does a loved one need video game addiction treatment? Call Maui Recovery today for more information as we always look forward to working with those on the path of recovery.