Like gambling and sex addiction, gaming is a behavioural addiction, although not yet officially recognised as such by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Although, The World Health Organisation has added gaming addiction to its 2018 medical reference book, International Classification of Diseases.

Since there are many millions of gamers scattered throughout the World, gaming addiction is thought to affect more people than all other forms of addiction combined. Teens with poor social skills and ADHD sufferers are at an increased risk of developing a gaming addiction.

But it is important to have a differentiation between gaming addiction and someone who is a gaming enthusiast. There is a clear difference between wanting to game and needing to game and experiences negative feelings when doing any of task besides gaming.

An entire generation of people has been affected by gaming addiction. Therefore, a known need for gaming addiction rehabilitation services has arisen. Although our gaming addiction clinic is based in the North West of England, gaming addicts travel from all corners of Great Britain seeking to take advantage of our world-class rehabilitation services.

Why Are Video Games So Addictive?

Similar to all other forms of addiction, gaming stimulates the release of a ‘feel-good hormone’ in the brain known as dopamine. Over time the brain becomes accustomed to an unnatural release of dopamine.

When dopamine is not sustained at extreme levels the gaming addict becomes restless. The gaming addict may experience anxiety as a result of gaming withdrawal. The addict reacts by continuing to play computer games for longer periods of time. The addict is therefore trapped inside a vicious circle of gaming and withdrawal.

Video games are also designed to be never-ending. Once you complete one level, there is always another. Game developers are also constantly releasing updates for games. May that be a new character, map or game functionality.

There is also the option to play online in the majority of new games. So, you can just start a new game, and with international servers, there is always someone online to play with.

These international servers also create a sense of community, which many people with social issues flock to. Similarly, they can provide an escape from daily life which some people feel they need.

Eventually, gaming addicts seek professional help in order to defeat their addiction. However, this cry for help is often too late and the gaming addict has sacrificed their education, job or family life due to the addiction.

Gaming addiction is a behavioural addiction. This means the addict is addicted to a certain behaviour rather than a substance. Behavioural addiction is classified as an impulse control disorder (ICD).

Signs and Symptoms

There are a number of common signs and symptoms you or a loved is suffering from gaming addiction:

  • Constant thoughts about gamingGaming Addiction
  • Irritability or restlessness when not gaming
  • Lying about how much time is spent gaming
  • Disrupted sleep patterns because of gaming
  • Hand, neck and back pain from sitting in the same position
  • Headaches and/or eye strain from too much screen time
  • Lack of interest in personal hygiene
  • No interest in socialising outside of gaming
  • Not attending work or education
  • Risking finances buying games or in-game add-ons

If you are a parent that is worried your child may be becoming addicted to gaming, there are a few simple changes you can implement:

  • Set time limits and stick to them
  • Keep all screens out of the bedroom so they aren’t able to play at night
  • Set a time to do other activities, especially exercise

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Gaming Addiction Withdrawal

When gaming addicts stop or cut down on gaming their brain ceases to release large quantities of dopamine. Gaming addicts now experience psychological withdrawal symptoms as a result.

Gaming addiction withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Feeling irritated
  • Mood swings
  • Hot flushing
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Damaging personal property
  • Insomnia
  • Lethargy

Which Games Are the Most Addictive?Gaming Addict

A large majority of games are designed to be addictive by their designers and developers, but Game Quitters noticed the same games being mentioned over and over again. Here are the top four and possible reasons they are considered so addictive:

League of Legends – This game takes hours to master which gets you hooked right from the start.

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) – This game very quickly became a fan favourite because you play online with the rest of the world. Many believe it is addictive because it is expensive to buy initially so people play it excessively to get their ‘monies worth’.

World of Warcraft (WoW) – it is believed this game is addictive because it was the first of its kind and people flocked to the community aspect of the game. And similarly, to PUBG it costs a lot of money to play (The actual game and monthly subscription fees).

Minecraft – with its community aspects, immersion and young demographic, it has become a breeding ground for addiction.

Our Gaming Addiction Rehab

Ocean Recovery’s comprehensive gaming addiction rehabilitation programme is designed to free gaming addicts of their addiction. Once clients arrive at our centre a full psychiatric assessment is carried out. Patients then begin their gaming addiction rehabilitation programme.

Since our rehabilitation programme is residential in nature, gaming addicts do not have any access to a computer devise during their stay. Our rehabilitation centre offers a good mix of individual and group therapy sessions.

Therapy aims to treat underlying depression and anxiety which often accompanies gaming addiction. Once residential treatment comes to a conclusion a bespoke aftercare and relapse prevention plan is put in place.

Patients are expected to attend aftercare sessions each week for around six-to-twelve months following the completion of the residential phase of rehabilitation. Patients are encouraged to attend Online Gamers Anonymous in their local area.

Call Ocean Recovery today

Call Ocean Recovery today to find out more about gaming rehab. Call on 01253 847 553. Alternatively, complete the enquiry form and a member of the team will respond shortly.

We maintain clinics across the United Kingdom.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: February 2, 2024

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.

Dr Robert Lutaaya - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: December 22, 2023

MBChB, MSc Psych

Dr Robert Lutaaya qualified in 1995 from Worclaw Medical University as MBChB, and obtained a MSc Psych from the University of Manchester in 2014. Dr Lutaaya has previously worked for the CGL Substance Misuse Service and as an on-call doctor substance misuse Doctor for 17 years before joining Ocean Recovery. Dr Robert Lutaaya is committed to helping those struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.