Addiction affects millions of Americans every year. It is a problem that can destroy individuals, families, or even whole communities. When society envisions addiction they often think of the worst most debilitating problem. It is often seen as a homeless person that continues to live in squalor and a depressing situation willingly, so they continue to abuse drugs. The truth is that addiction can affect anyone. Addiction also works in different ways; individuals can be addicted to a number of different things. Many Americans suffer from drug, alcohol, gambling, sex, and even video game addiction. These addictions can be just as dangerous as other addictions. Since many of these addictions are legal activities detecting a problem can be difficult. Recognizing video game addiction can be difficult, here are some signs to look for if you believe someone you love has an addiction to video games.

Internet Gaming Disorder

Video gaming addiction is also referred to as internet gaming disorder. Playing video games is common among the young and older adults, therefore it can be difficult to detect. Americans have spent over $21 billion in video game related tools or games. In a survey conducted by Harris poll, 69% of Americans believed that video/internet games were good for children. There are several internet games that can help children with math, geography, music, and foreign languages. The truth is that the majority of children are not playing educational games and those who are often turn to the more entertaining non-educational games quickly and quietly. Since these games are played regularly by many it is difficult to catch behavior that leads to an addiction.

Video Game Disorder and Substance Abuse Disorder

The similarities between video game disorder and substance abuse disorder are uncanny. Both addictions are characterized by a need to continue to use and that need increases over time. The individual begins prioritize video gaming over their normal responsibilities. Studies have shown that young boys are more likely to develop video gaming addictions than girls. Those with a gaming disorder are more likely to abuse alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use marijuana. Those suffering with problematic gaming do worse in school and have higher rates of depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, and have negative self-esteem. Multiplayer games have been the source of more problems, as they can be paused and replayed for extended periods of time. Individuals can forgo food or drink, or consume nutrient deficient foods, for extended periods of time; this causes bad health that contributes to poor mental health.

Causes of Video Gaming Disorder

This type of addiction has not been sufficiently studied and therefore the resources on the problem are limited. Specialists believe that physiological and personality factors contribute to video game addictions. The same reward sensors in the brain are triggered during gaming as with drugs or alcohol, therefore the individual feels good when they play. The release of dopamine causes the good feeling, but without the gaming they feel worse. Poor impulse control has been linked to video game disorder in the U.K. Video gamers prefer smaller immediate rewards over larger delayed rewards, which draws them to gaming.

Signs of Addiction

Here are some signs that a loved one could have a video game disorder/addiction:

-they are constantly preoccupied with buying or playing video games
-they feel sad, anxious, or depressed when they are not playing
-they need to spend more and more time playing video games
-video games give them a significant rush that they refer to or visibly show
-they lose interest in other activities; ones they were once excited about
-they cannot stop playing, even if they want
-they lie about how much time the spend playing video games
-they risk their friendships, intimate relationships, jobs, or careers to continue to play video games.

If a loved one displays any of these emotions or actions seeking help is important. The longer an addiction is allowed to continue the harder it is to get help.