Addiction is stereotypically the problem of those on skid row, not those who live and work among us. Ask someone to picture an addict and almost invariably the first image called to mind is that of a bum on the streets, alcohol or drugs in hand. Rarely does one picture the college student with a handful of illicit Adderall during final exams, the business executive on his third afternoon glass of single-malt, or the retiree squandering his pension at the horse track. Even less likely is one to envision addiction as a teen hunched over their iPhone, laptop, or video game console controller, hours melting away in a haze as real life passes them by.
Addiction is insidious in any form, and video game addiction is a real problem. The American Psychiatric Association called for further study of video game addiction in its most recent update of the DSM-5. They further proposed a possible future video game addiction diagnosis called Internet Gaming Disorder. For a diagnosis, at least five of the nine criteria must be met within a 12-month period:
- Preoccupation with Internet games (The individual thinks about previous gaming activity or anticipates playing the next game; Internet gaming becomes the dominant activity in daily life).
- Withdrawal symptoms when Internet gaming is taken away. (These symptoms are typically described as irritability, anxiety, or sadness, but there are no physical signs of pharmacological withdrawal).
- Tolerance - the need to spend increasing amounts of time engaged in Internet games
- Unsuccessful attempts to control the participation in Internet games
- Loss of interests in previous hobbies and entertainment as a result of, and with the exception of, Internet games.
- Continued excessive use of Internet games despite knowledge psychosocial problems.
- Has deceived family members, therapists, or others regarding the amount of Internet gaming.
- Use of Internet games to escape or relieve a negative mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety).
- Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of participation in Internet games.
Does this sound like you or someone you know? If so, please contact us for a consultation!