Video Game Addiction

When it comes to addiction, those who suffer from substance dependency tend to feel very strongly about certain behavioral addictions. It is not uncommon for drug addicts and alcoholics to shun those who suffer from lesser-understood addictions, an interesting dynamic that has been an issue in recovery communities across the nation for several years. However, behavioral addictions such as video game dependency can be just as detrimental to an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing. Those who engage in compulsive game playing for extended periods of time tend to eventually develop patterns of behavior such as severe social isolation, mood swings, and increased aggression. While the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has experienced much controversy revolving around the inclusion of video gaming as a diagnosable disorder, the American Psychiatric Association has developed 9 criteria for conclusively characterizing the proposed disorder.

Video Game Addiction Criteria

  1. Pre-Occupation with gaming.

Advancing in video games becomes the main objective of an individual’s day and it becomes difficult to engage in other activities without thinking about video games.

  1. Withdrawal (mental and emotional).

When an individual is unable to play or is attempting to cut down, he or she may feel moody, irritable, anxious, discontent, or depressed.

  1. A building up of tolerance.

It becomes necessary to play for longer amounts of time or to play more exciting games with heavier duty equipment.

  1. Inability to cut back despite efforts to reduce gaming.

Despite the fact that an individual recognizes he or she may have a problem, he or she cannot stop regardless of attempts.

  1. Continuing to game despite negative consequences.

An individual may experience a sense of urgency to continue gaming despite issues at home, at school, at work, and with relationships.

  1. Giving up other activities.

One may experience a lack of interest in previously enjoyed hobbies and extracurricular activities, occupying time with little other than advancing in video games.

  1. Trying to deceive or cover up gaming.

One may begin to lie about use, trying to convince loved ones they have cut back when they haven’t in actuality.

  1. Using gaming to escape adverse moods.

An individual with gaming dependency may begin to use video games to numb or distract from uncomfortable feelings.

  1. Risking or losing relationships or opportunities.

Gaming becomes top priority – interpersonal relationships may suffer significantly and opportunities may be neglected.

There Is Help Available For Video Game Addiction

It has become clear that video game addiction possesses many of the same devastating characteristics as a chemical addiction to drugs or alcohol. If you or someone you love has been affected by an addiction to video games, there is help available. Feel free to call one of our trained representatives to discuss your potential treatment options today.

Food Addiction

Recent studies conclusively show the same reward and pleasure centers in the human brain that are affected by heroin, cocaine, and other illicit chemical substances can also be triggered by sugars, fat, carbohydrates, and salt. Highly palatable foods trigger brain chemicals such as dopamine that cause an individual to immediately feel good. Once one experiences a dopamine trigger and the resulting increase in pleasure, neurological reward pathways will send immediate messages to eat again. Such signals are sent out, they may override other signals indicating satisfaction or fullness. Individuals may overeat as a result, causing correlating issues such as weight gain. Another sign of food addiction is a steady increase in tolerance. One may eat greater and greater amounts of food with less and less of a pleasurable response. In this sense, food addiction is very similar to substance abuse and addiction. Soon a food addict will eat larger amounts than necessary regardless of any negative consequences they may undergo, such as significant weight gain or problems within interpersonal relationships. Those who suffer from food addiction will also have significant problems stopping on their own – oftentimes unable to control urges and eating large amounts despite the fact they have committed to stopping.

Characteristics of Food Addiction

Listed below are several characteristics that apply to food addicts. If you believe you may be struggling with food addiction but are unsure, apply the characteristics below to yourself – if they match up, it may be time to seek treatment.

  • You end up eating more than planned when you are eating certain foods – you seem to lose control
  • You eat beyond feelings of satiation and fullness
  • You sometimes eat to the point of feeling ill
  • You unsuccessfully try to eliminate or control your consumption of certain types of food
  • You go out of your way to get ahold of certain foods
  • You avoid certain social situations because you know the likelihood that certain types of food will be present
  • You have problems functioning because you are so consumed with compulsive thoughts of food and eating

If you are suffering from food addiction, you may also frequently experience feelings of anxiety, agitation, depression, guilt, and self-loathing. Food addiction is a serious and diagnosable disorder, and must be treated similarly to any other addiction. However, complete abstinence is not an option, seeing as people must eat in order to stay alive. There are several treatment options available to food addicts, two of which have proven exceedingly successful. Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous revolves around a traditional 12-step program, while Food Addicts Anonymous practices principles and diets that revolve around abstinence from certain types of food. Behavioral and cognitive therapies are also crucial components of comprehensive treatment, and long-term recovery is completely attainable with the right treatment plan for your specific needs in mind.

Is Using Steroids a Relapse?

Despite the fact that Blake has 18 months of solid sobriety under his belt and dedicates a generous majority of his free time to recovery and involvement in the program, he still struggles with body image – an area that most American youths seem to grapple with at one point or another. Blake started taking steroids about 4 months ago to increase his performance at the gym, convincing himself that although he has to keep his steroid use a secret from his friends, family members, and sponsor, steroid use is not a relapse. He justifies his use by stating that steroids are not mind are mood altering – despite the fact that he often finds his temper to be significantly shorter than it used to be, and loses it quite often. However, if Blake steps back and asks himself if is he lying to those closest to him, obtaining drugs illegally, and doing them in secret, and if he answers “yes” – he may want to consider whether or not this behavior is consistent with his recovery goals and lifestyle objectives.

Are Steroids Addictive?

Because many men and women continue using steroids despite negative personal consequences, it has been evidenced that anabolic steroids can definitely be addictive. Regardless of any physical issues that may develop in conjunction with social issues that may potentially arise (concern from loved ones, excessive time and money spent obtaining and using drugs), many steroid users will continue using, focused exclusively on perfecting external appearance. Individuals who engage in prolonged steroid use are extremely likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they cease use, such as restlessness, fatigue, mood swings, loss of appetite, reduced sex drive, insomnia, and cravings. In extreme cases, steroid withdrawal has lead to attempted suicide because the mood swings tend to be so intense. If left of untreated, the depressive tendencies that go hand-in-hand with anabolic steroid use may last up to a year or longer.

Is Using Steroids a Relapse?

This is a highly controversial topic, for many recovering addicts actively use steroids while many do consider steroid use a relapse and completely stay away. It is important to look at intentions and motivations, and consider the ways in which the behavior itself resembles ways in which you used your initial drug of choice. If you are obsessing, experiencing compulsive behaviors, or acting exceedingly secretive about your use, you may want to consult your sponsor or share in your homegroup. If this is not an option – you may want to reconsider how conducive your steroid use is to your recovery.

Internet Addiction Disorder

Internet Addiction Disorder, commonly referred to as PIU (problematic internet use) or CIU (compulsive internet use), is widely disputed – though it has recently been seriously considered for incorporation into the next issue of the DSM based on the prevalence with which cases are uncovered. Internet addiction is a subset of a larger classification – technology addiction, and is subdivided itself into several differing categories.

Internet Addiction Poses A Very Real Threat

  • Cybersexual addiction – The user compulsively uses adult websites for access to pornography, inappropriate adult chatrooms, or cybersex.
  • Cyber-relationship addiction – The user is involved in online relationships to a problematic degree, possibly engaging in several relationships simultaneously or pretending to be someone he or she is not despite potential consequences.
  • Net compulsions – The user engages in online shopping, day trading, or gambling obsessively, unable to control his or her spending.
  • Information overload – The user searches the web compulsively, acquiring new information with complete lack of control.
  • Computer addiction – The user plays online games compulsively and cannot stop despite repercussions on his or her personal life.

In many cases, Internet addiction will cause serious strains in the personal life of the afflicted individual. The majority of the individual’s time will be spent online, either engaging in explicit sexual activity, gambling, shopping, chatting, or surfing the web. If the addict engages in online gambling or shopping, the financial consequences may be significant and devastating. A model, known as the ACE Model, was implemented to help others better understand the disorder.

  • Accessibility. Because the Internet is essentially accessible to every American citizen regardless of financial situation, the issue has become more prevalent in recent years. In most cases, an individual can access the Internet from the comfort of his or her own home, never needing to deal with the outside world.
  • Control. Users are totally in control of when and where they engage; however, they may not have control of for how long or how often. Because control tends to be a major issue in most addictions (often proving to be an underlying cause of addiction as well), it makes sense that control plays a large part in Internet addiction.
  • Excitement. Especially when gambling online or engaging in adult chatrooms or cybersex, the user will experience a rush of excitement. This slight emotional high can be addicting in itself.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from an Internet addiction, there is help available. In many cases, intensive therapy and regular attendance at a 12-step meeting is sufficient. However, inpatient treatment is sometimes required. If you would like more information regarding the implications of internet addiction, please contact one of our trained representatives who will gladly provide you with all the information you are looking for.

Gambling Addiction

Pathological gambling is by far one of the most prevalent and widespread behavioral addictions. The addiction typically begins in adolescence amongst men and between the ages of 25 and 40 in women. In most cases, compulsive gambling involves repetitive behaviors, and can prove to be hugely detrimental to the personal life of the afflicted man or woman. Besides the obvious financial strain, gambling addiction can cause major relationship and emotional issues. Feelings of guilt and shame are not uncommon seeing as gambling addiction is somewhat stigmatized and not as comprehensively understood as alcoholism and drug addiction. Additionally, stressful situations tend to worsen gambling problems – creating a destructive cyclical pattern in the life of the addict.

How Do I Know If I Have A Gambling Addiction?

The American Psychiatric Association concludes that if you have any 5 or more of the following symptoms, you are a diagnosable gambling addict and may want to consider seeking treatment.

  • You are restless and irritable when obligations prevent you from gambling, or when you know you cannot gamble.
  • You gamble in order to escape uncomfortable emotions or to relieve stress and escape from personal problems.
  • You begin committing crimes in order to acquire more money for gambling.
  • You begin gambling with larger sums of money in order to attempt making back past losses.
  • You begin borrowing money in order to continue gambling.
  • You begin needing to gamble with larger sums of money in order to feel the same excitement.
  • You begin to compromise work, relationships, and potential educational or career opportunities.
  • You start to lie to friends and family about the amount of time and money you spend gambling.
  • You are consumed by thoughts relating to gambling – when you can gamble next, how much money you need to make back, etc.

Gambling addiction can cause major financial and emotional devastation in one’s life. Fortunately, it can be treated with some intensive therapy and continued involvement in a traditional 12-step program. If you are unsure whether or not you have a gambling addiction, Gambler’s Anonymous has comprised a list of 20 questions you may ask yourself in order to make your situation clearer. If you would like to receive help for a gambling addiction, please calls one of our trained representatives to figure out what kind of treatment options are available.