Aid! I think I'm addicted to Video Games

Dear GoodTherapy,

I work. I eat and I drink. I play video games. Sleep. Then I repeat.

Each. Single. Day.

Three of these things are necessary, but the fourth game – it is not. But he certainly feels like he is. And I get used to undermining other important aspects of my life so I can sink myself into the game. What I mean is sometimes to skip work, sometimes to skip meals and often to stay until night to play. It is mainly a toy. I do not know if addiction to video games is something, but I will say it feels like an addiction. I can not stop. I do not want to stop. I know my obsession with the game is not healthy, but I feel powerless on it.

Is gambling addiction real or am I just weak? If it is real, what will it take to overcome it? -Game over

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Dear GO,

Thank you for writing. It's interesting to say "I do not want to stop", but they are clearly worried enough to write me.

I could write a book (and many) about exactly what "addiction" is. We have not been all for a long time that we, as a society, considered cigarettes to be addictive.

Drug-addicts (and I think I am aware of this fact) distinguish addiction to substances from repetitive or coerced behaviors as substance dependencies versus "process", respectively. Ultimately, I think we'll find it out all process – and we are just in our infancy about the awareness of addiction, I believe. For now, let's call video games as an addiction to the process. The World Health Organization has recently ruled it, while American psychiatry remains reluctant to do so. You can read more about it if you want.

One of the indications you offer, whether it is an addiction, is the intense ambivalence that we do not want to stop, as if it were implying (instigated) internally divisive. You may have to stop, but you do not want, but you should, but why should you? This circular ambiguity is tortuous, which can be restored by … gambling.

In the lingo recovery, we could say that you have become powerless in video games, which means you have lost the ability to choose. It has become so problematic or confusing that you have written to a therapist for clarity. I am glad you did, as it shows that there is a wise and intuitive part of you who feels the destructive nature of disorientation demand to continue.

This tyrannical impulse may be the most characteristic feature of addictive trapping: when I "want" becomes "must". Usually, "need" involves treating or sedating anxiety, anxiety, depression or other troublesome situations. You might try to go without it for a week to see what's going on. Your brain can soon shout for dopamine "hits" and for the adrenaline provided by the play and its mumble split or "escape." I am not immune to this, by the way, and I had to take self-imposed intervals from social media or other online stores. Nor are "specialists" bulletproof.

This tyrannical impulse may be the most characteristic feature of addictive trapping: when I "want" becomes "must". Usually, "need" involves treating or sedating anxiety, anxiety, depression or other troublesome situations.

This is one reason why I am impressed that you wrote it. You have made yourself vulnerable in search of help, which may be the most courageous thing any of us can do. To paraphrase Carl Jung, only when our ego feels back in a corner, and delivers or waves the white flag, it can start authentic personalized change or development. Because here we are forced to rely on forces greater than ourselves, requiring emotional danger.

Recognizing our constraints, our existential mortality, we discover the value of the present and the opportunities that we have before us, that we will be wasted if we do not take some of these dangers. By addressing this issue is perhaps the greatest gift you could give yourself.

And now what? You could look for a psychologist or a therapist / counselor familiar with addiction. As always, the basic factor is your level of comfort and your emotional security with the provider. With addiction, I think the balance between understanding and the proper challenge of addictive behaviors is important. You do not have to choose between "harsh love" and confectionery.

I have found that treating addiction is a delicate balance – sometimes honest, sometimes tender, but as authentic as possible. This means avoiding "types" by trying to speak the language of the person and to stimulate or inspire the person's desire to grow, even when this development involves dealing with terrible strangers. I can not do this for the people I work with, but I can do it with their.

I find that some people need time to prepare to stop their addictive behaviors, while others are ready for a minute. Some may need psychiatric evaluation, others do not. Some may need extra support, such as recovery meetings. Others do not get into recovery groups, so more frequent treatment sessions (or complementary support, such as dialectic behavioral treatment groups) may be indicated.

Some want to reduce their addictive cycles, while others want to jump, cold turkey. It all depends on and becomes a collaborative work. I am cautious about clinicians who have an approach or a theory that is too programmatic or inflexible. In my case, I have a lot of experience in treating addiction, but I can not say for sure what it is like to be in one's shoes.

I hope this is useful and congratulations again for the courage to put your question out there. I know you can make changes if you want. If you have the sensitivity to feel that something is awkward, you would bet that you have the inner resources to pursue a more expansive lifestyle. The danger with addiction is the numbing factor that can make us lose the time and opportunities we spend.

I also want to say that this is the final column Dear GoodTherapy, at least for the foreseeable future. It was a pleasure and honor to be able to answer your questions and I am so grateful for your questions and comments. Even those who disagreed or harmed with my answers gave me food for thought. Thank you for allowing me to participate in this enriched dialogue. I was always impressed by the brave, honest nature of the questions and the comments.


Darren Humber, PsyD, MFT

Darren Humber

Darren Haber, PsyD, MFT is a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as related issues such as anxiety, depression, relationship concerns, secondary outbursts (especially sexual addiction) and trauma. He works in a variety of ways, mainly cognitive behavior, spiritual / recovery and psychodynamics. He is certified in EMDR and continues to receive psychodynamic training in relational wound healing, including emotional abuse / neglect and physical and sexual abuse.