Gaming Addiction: An Overview of Signs, Symptoms and Causes

As with many forms of addiction, gaming addiction has several contributing factors that can lead to its development. However, some individuals find themselves by nature more susceptible to the behavioral addiction gaming can present. From unresolved childhood issues to chemical shifts in the body, physical, social, environmental and psychological issues can give rise to gaming addiction. For this reason, gaming addiction recovery centers often present holistic treatment plans for those facing gaming addictions, treating all aspects of the individual to help overcome the compulsion to gamble.

High Risk Factors for Gaming Dependency

Though gaming addiction can develop in those who exhibit none of the traditional risk factors, studies have demonstrated such traits across samples of individuals struggling with compulsive gambling. We’ve gathered some of the most common factors that tend to place individuals at risk for developing gaming problems below.

Accessibility of Gaming

Many individuals discount the roles of location and accessibility in development of gaming addictions. However, studies have shown that location can certainly matter in the development of gaming addictions. In fact, individuals who reside within a 50-mile radius of casinos or other gaming facilities experience twice the risk for development of gaming addictions than counterparts at a further distance.

Poor Role Models

As children tend to learn behaviors from their parents, gaming is often passed down through the generations. Individuals who have a family history of addiction – particularly in the areas of alcoholism or compulsive gaming – are at a higher risk for development of the condition themselves.

Dual Diagnosis Issues

Behind many cases of gaming addiction are mental health conditions that cause individuals to self-medicate with compulsive gambling. Those at the highest risk tend to experience high levels of depression, personality disorders or anxiety disorders, placing them at a greater risk for gaming addiction than the average American. In particular, studies have indicated a possible link between those with ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – and the risk for gaming addiction.

Low Sense of Self-Worth

For some individuals, self-esteem can make a difference in the development of gaming addiction. The fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled interaction can lead to false bolstering of self-image, particularly attractive to those for whom negative self-views are the norm.

Financial Hardship

Many individuals begin experimenting with high-frequency and high-stakes gaming during a period of financial hardship. The lure of the high payout, however, proves elusive, as individuals repeatedly attempt to obtain it. Unfortunately, financial hardship tends to become exacerbated by gaming addiction, and the majority of those who seek treatment due so in the wake of financial ruin.

Craving for Social Interactions

Most gaming facilities offer a manufactured reason for social interaction, allowing those with a propensity for isolation to become dependent on the behavior.

At-Risk Demographics for Gaming Addiction

Demographic factors can also play a part in the development of gaming addiction. Those who begin gaming in youth or adolescent tend to develop dependency in adulthood at higher rates, and men experience double the risk for gaming addiction than women do.

Chemical Imbalances in the Brain and Body

For some, the development of gaming addiction is simply biological. The act of gaming provides a boost in two neurochemicals – norepinephrine and serotonin – responsible for feelings of energy and euphoria, respectively.

Psychological and Emotional Issues

For some, psychological and emotional issues lie at the heart of gaming addiction. Repressed emotional pain, past trauma or anger management issues can often become self-medicated by seeking the thrill and illusory control gaming provides. Through compassionate, confidential counseling, these issues can often be resolved.

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