Video Game Rehab Guideprofessional help for addiction treatment
What is video game rehab?
Video game addiction – a real disorder?
Although such a disorder has not been officially recognised as a mental health disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders listed Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) as a condition warranting further study. With that said, gambling disorder is the only behavioural addiction (as opposed to substance use) identified in the DSM-5.
how people get addicted to video games?
Growing neurological evidence points to the possibility that behavioural addictions — such as video-game playing (among others) — can resemble substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol, in terms of their effect on the brain. Strong similarities have been observed between the effects on brain chemistry caused by video games, and by drugs known to be addictive.
Gaming can trigger the brain’s reward system, releasing dopamine. Where gaming addiction has taken hold, the player’s dopamine receptors and the functioning of these neural pathways have been changed, just as though they were continually using a drug – creating a need for more and more of the same type of stimulation.
Mental health and video gaming addiction
- Boys using nicotine, alcohol, or cannabis were almost twice as likely to be problematic gamers.
- Problematic gamers are 2.77 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, and are also more likely to suffer from a mood disorder or substance use disorder.
- Overuse of handheld gaming devices may cause epilepsy, auditory hallucinations, tendinitis of wrist, thumb, and hand, as well as musculoskeletal problems.
- Gaming addicts tend to be severely sleep deprived, and are 3 times more likely to have irregular sleep patterns than normal gamers.
When should you get help at a gaming rehab?
There are a number of signals to indicate that you or someone you love may have a video game addiction. Similar to criteria for substance use and gambling disorders, if your son’s gaming habits are causing their relationships, work, or school studies to suffer, then there is a good chance they would benefit from entering video game rehab. A diagnosis of Internet Gaming Disorder is deemed appropriate when five or more of the following has been occurring within a 12-month period.
- Needing to game for longer each time to feel ‘satisfied’
- Continuing to game despite the negative consequences it is having on their relationships and work life
- Feeling that they have no control over their gaming behaviour
- Losing interest in spending time with loved ones or taking part in other hobbies
- Experiencing negative emotions such as frustration, anger or depression when they are not on the internet, and having these feelings ease when they start gaming
- Continually thinking about gaming
- Lying to friends and families to cover up their gaming habits
- Using gaming as a means to escape from unpleasant moods or feelings
- Risking or losing opportunities (relationships, career, educational, etc.) due to gaming
Outpatient vs inpatient rehab for gaming
Outpatient gaming rehab
Because outpatient care does not have a residential component, however, your loved one will be unsupervised by professionals whenever he is outside the rehab centre – making it necessary for him to receive support at home, while also exerting the requisite self-discipline to stay away from video games while he is not at therapy. Outpatient care is therefore intended to treat mild video game addictions, in cases where there are no other psychological issues to address, and a supportive environment at home.
Inpatient gaming rehab
Inpatient care places gaming addicts in a safe and controlled environment for the full duration of their treatment programme. Inpatient care is the more effective option for complex, moderate, or severe cases of behavioural addiction, as it allows professional staff to monitor the addicted person and provide any necessary support 24 hours a day. While outpatient treatment can also be effective, inpatient programmes are generally more structured and more comprehensive.There is additional value in the supportive environment and physical distance that inpatient care puts between each addicted person and the video games they are trying to break away from. Treatment for dual diagnosis is also offered at many inpatient centres. For both inpatient and outpatient care, longer rehab programmes and continuity of care result in higher success rates.
How is gaming disorder treated?
How video game addiction rehab works
Video game addiction rehab begins with a comprehensive assessment that takes into account your loved one’s physical and mental health, their family history, their pattern of gaming behaviour, and any other addictions they may suffer from, such as alcohol or drugs. Professional video game rehab should also look at any past trauma they may have experienced, which could be contributing to their gaming disorder. If any underlying mental health condition is identified, medication might be prescribed as part of their video gaming treatment.
Once a treatment plan is formalised, your son will undergo individual and group therapy sessions that will address the reasons why they began gaming and why they have been unable to stop. Video game addiction rehab centres can also help compulsive gamers identify underlying issues that are contributing to their addiction – such as chronic depression, past trauma, or co-occurring substance abuse.
At the end of their treatment, they should receive a discharge programme which features a comprehensive relapse prevention plan. This is designed to give the addicted person the tools they need – physically, mentally and emotionally – to manage the triggers of their gaming addiction. Their discharge programme may also include a schedule of follow-up appointments, so that they feel guided and supported upon returning home.
How long is video game rehab?
How much does gaming rehab cost?
- $3,000 – $7,000 per week for intensive outpatient programmes (IOPs)
- $8,000 – $30,000 for a 30-day standard inpatient rehab programme
- $40,000 – $100,000 for a 30-day luxury inpatient rehab programme
- $8,000 – $16,000 for a 30-day inpatient rehab in Thailand
Video game addiction rehab in Thailand
Video game treatment in Thailand includes:
- A secular version of the 12-step treatment programme (as well as non 12-step alternatives), adapted to treat international clients from around the world
- A complete change of environment, which has been shown to increase success rates for recovery
- The opportunity to see a new part of the world, with plenty of natural and cultural highlights to enjoy
- Quality addiction treatment using a variety of evidence-based therapies, including CBT, DBT, MBCT and mindfulness meditation
- 24-hour emotional, physical and mental support in a beautiful seaside or mountain location in Thailand
- The opportunity to recover in a tranquil setting, far from the distractions and temptations of home
- A longer period of treatment for the same budget; staying in treatment for an extended period of time gives the best chance of success
- “Gaming Disorder.” WHO, World Health Organization, 14 Sept. 2018, www.who.int/features/qa/gaming-disorder/en/.
- American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013. Available at: Google Scholar [Accessed 18 Feb 2020].
- Grant, Jon E et al. “Introduction to behavioral addictions.” The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse vol. 36,5 (2010): 233-41. doi:10.3109/00952990.2010.491884
- Yau, Yvonne H C, and Marc N Potenza. “Gambling disorder and other behavioral addictions: recognition and treatment.” Harvard review of psychiatry vol. 23,2 (2015): 134-46. doi:10.1097/HRP.0000000000000051
- Smith, K.L., Hummer, T.A. & Hulvershorn, L.A. Pathological Video Gaming and Its Relationship to Substance Use Disorders. Curr Addict Rep 2, 302–309 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-015-0075-6
- Torres-Rodríguez, A., Griffiths, M.D. & Carbonell, X. The Treatment of Internet Gaming Disorder: a Brief Overview of the PIPATIC Program. Int J Ment Health Addiction 16, 1000–1015 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-017-9825-0
- Naskar, Subrata et al. “One level more:” A narrative review on internet gaming disorder.” Industrial psychiatry journal vol. 25,2 (2016): 145-154. doi:10.4103/ipj.ipj_67_16
- Internet Gaming. Reviewed by Ranna Parekh, The American Psychiatric Association (APA), www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/internet-gaming.