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Video Game Rehab: Inside Gaming Addiction Treatment Centers

Learn about video game rehab, what it is, what it costs, what happens in gaming addiction treatment centers, and the obstacles to treatment – all on HealthyPlace.

Video game rehab exists to help those who have become addicted to video games. Like all addictions, gaming addiction can ruin lives. Gaming becomes increasingly excessive, and it takes control of a gamer’s life. Consequences can be dire, including school failure, loss of employment, loss of friendships and other relationships, and declining physical and mental health (Gaming Addiction Symptoms: How You Know You’re Addicted). Because of this, gaming addiction treatment centers are springing up worldwide to provide video game rehab and help gamers reclaim their lives.

Video Game Rehab: Obstacles and Frustrations

Gaming addiction is hard to break, especially when someone is trying to do it on his or her own. While kicking the gaming habit is indeed possible without formal video game rehabilitation, it can take longer and be a bit more difficult. Unfortunately, finding treatment centers for gaming addiction isn’t easy.

Obstacles prevent people from participating in video game rehab programs. Some treatment barriers include:

  • High demand as the number of people addicted to gaming is consistently rising
  • Low availability and long waiting lists because, while treatment centers are springing up worldwide, there simply aren’t enough
  • High cost, with some gaming addiction treatment programs costing tens of thousands of dollars

What if you don’t want to go to a treatment center and would rather see a local psychologist or other mental health professionals? Doing this is an option. While it wouldn’t be a worthless endeavor and you’d work on weakening your addiction, there are frustrations with seeing a therapist for video game rehab.

Many psychiatrists don’t fully acknowledge gaming addiction. Despite growing evidence through valid research, some professionals simply don’t take gaming addiction seriously. They don’t believe that gaming can become a real issue (What is Gaming Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment).     

Some do believe, correctly, that people can become addicted to gaming; however, they don’t know how to properly treat it. Gaming addiction is a new concept. As more and more addictive games, especially online games classified as massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGS), are produced and more people play them, addiction is increasing. Research has demonstrated that gaming addiction is a real problem, but research in how to treat it is still catching up.

Treatment centers for video gaming addiction are staffed by professionals who do understand gaming addiction and have specialized in treating it. Despite the obstacles and frustrations, such centers are usually successful in breaking the addiction for good. Specific activities and approaches make these centers effective.

What Happens Inside Video Gaming Addiction Treatment Centers

Two main types of treatment centers exist: Wilderness camps and rehabilitation centers. Both types focus on

  • Weaning people off gaming; some, like the Bradford Reginal Medical Center in Pennsylvania, do this immediately with a 72-hour detox experience
  • Developing insight into what is missing from their lives
  • Learning how to socialize
  • Engaging in activities and exercise programs
  • Replacing gaming with different positive, healthy, and fulfilling activities
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy

Most therapeutic approaches to video game rehab involve cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has been shown to decrease symptoms of gaming addiction as well as other challenges someone faces, such as depression or anxiety. CBT also helps reduce thoughts and behaviors connected to gaming. Because of this, people are likely to increase life satisfaction.

The most important part of video game rehab is to go beyond merely stopping the addiction to replacing gaming with other activities and passions by developing a purpose and increasing self-esteem. Treatment centers exist to help people make this happen.

The High Cost of Video Game Rehab and Gaming Addiction Treatment Centers

Unfortunately, recovery comes at a price. The Bradford Reginal Medical Center’s gaming rehab program costs $14,000 for 10 days. A retreat center for Internet addiction called reSTART charges people a whopping $22,000 for a 45-day stay. Those who need to stay longer pay an additional $420 per day.

Worse, this expense is completely out-of-pocket for gamers (or their parents). Because gaming addiction is not yet an official diagnosis recognized in medical or psychiatric manuals, insurance won’t cover treatment.

This may change in coming years, though. The authority on medical conditions is the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), produced by the World Health Organization. The eleventh edition, the ICD-11, will be released in 2019, and it contains a new condition called gaming disorder. Further, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition DSM-5) includes gaming addiction as a condition for further study and possible inclusion in the next edition.

The important takeaway is that it is possible to become addicted to video games, and it is possible to overcome the addiction. There are treatments for addiction to video games available already, and video game rehab will become more accessible as studies continue to show the damaging effects of excessive gaming.

article references

Next: What is Gaming Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
~All Gaming Disorder Articles
~All Addiction Articles

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2018, July 20). Video Game Rehab: Inside Gaming Addiction Treatment Centers, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/addictions/gaming-disorder/video-game-rehab-inside-gaming-addiction-treatment-centers

Last Updated: April 24, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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