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Addicted to Video Games and Online Gaming: What Now?

Being addicted to video games and online gaming has negative consequences for your life. Discover how to reclaim your life and end addiction to gaming on HealthyPlace.

Most likely, if you’re addicted to video games and online gaming, you’ve noticed that gaming has begun to negatively interfere in the quality of your life. Being addicted to gaming or addicted to a video game isn’t about spending time playing; instead, it’s about suffering consequences but continuing to play anyway, perhaps because you can’t stop or video game withdrawal is strong. Now that you’ve noticed this, the next step is to begin to take back your life. You don’t have to stay addicted to video games for the rest of your life.

Addicted to Video Games and Online Gaming: Treatment Uncertainties

Gaming disorder and Internet gaming disorder (as defined in the World Health Organization’s forthcoming ICD-11 and the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5) are new addiction disorders. It has become evident that people can become addicted to online gaming as well as stand-alone gaming, so mental health experts are seeking answers and ways to provide help.

Because it’s new, much is still unknown, including exactly what to do to treat gaming addiction symptoms. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t do anything about it. On the contrary, there are many things you can do to overcome this addiction and reclaim your life. A good place to start is with the negative consequence you’re experiencing.

Addicted to Video Games: The Impact on Your Life

Being addicted to video games can mess up things in your life.  This addiction can:

  • Increase stress in almost all areas of your life, which harms mental health and wellbeing
  • Decrease or eliminate time you spend in other fun leisure activities
  • Cause you to miss school, work, activities you used to love, and interactions with people you used to hang out with
  • Decrease achievement and performance in school and at work

These categories are broad. You may notice other, more specific, ways gaming has interfered in your life.

These consequences are a good place to start once you’ve noticed that you’re addicted to video games. As yourself:

  • What is causing me the most problems?
  • What is it that I want to take back first? (Your grades in school? Friendships? Involvement in an activity?)

Trying to take back everything at once can be overwhelming, frustrating, and discouraging. Selecting one area as a starting point will help you gradually recreate what you want in your life (How to Quit Video Games, Gaming. How Tough Is It?). These tips can help:

The Three R’s of Recovery from Gaming Addiction

Rather than focusing on trying to quit gaming, turn your attention to putting more of what you want back into your life. After you’ve explored the above questions, work on the answers with the three R’s of recovery:

  • Retrain you brain
  • Reach out
  • Replace the games

Retrain your brain by weaning gradually. Incrementally reduce the playing time and intensity. Set limits on your gaming time. When your time is up, pack up your console or make your computer less accessible, and put away accessories. This makes it so you can’t easily resume play.

Changing your room environment also helps retrain your brain. Replace game-related posters, magazines, and novelties with things that represent your other interests. Rearrange your space. Make the gaming area less comfortable.

Reach out to others to rebuild connections. Gaming can be isolating. Begin reconnecting with friends and family. Reaching out to support groups such as Online Gamers Anonymous can be helpful, too.

Replace video games with other enjoyable activities. When you’re addicted to video games, simply trying to avoid playing them won’t work. Have something to do when you put away your system will distract you and provide something positive as a replacement.

When you first realize you’re addicted to video games and online gaming, it’s hard to know what to do about it. But video games don't have to ruin your life. Changing the negative consequences by retraining your brain, reaching out, and replacing the games with something you enjoy will allow you to take back your life.

article references

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2018, July 17). Addicted to Video Games and Online Gaming: What Now?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/addictions/gaming-disorder/addicted-to-video-games-and-online-gaming-what-now

Last Updated: April 23, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD