Restorations Therapy Blog

New Treatment Approaches for Internet and Gaming Addiction

by on Thursday, July 9th, 2020

New Treatment Approaches for Internet and Gaming Addiction

As technology advances, video games have advanced right along with it. Unfortunately, these technological leaps have also led to a new world of addiction — internet and gaming addiction. It’s one thing to enjoy video games. It’s another to think about gaming all the time and abandon your responsibilities at work, home, and school to keep playing. If a person has to spend more time playing to feel good or finds they can’t stop, they are at risk.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged that internet and gaming addiction signify a developing mental health issue, and “internet gaming disorder” was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (also known as the DSM-5) back in 2013. Thankfully, researchers in Germany believe that they have developed a way to help individuals break this compulsive behavior.

New Hope for Internet and Gaming Addicts

In this study published by JAMA Psychiatry, researchers report that they created a short-term version of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat internet and gaming addictions. CBT is a specific therapy that helps people understand their behaviors, alter their unhealthy ways of thinking, and thus change their negative behaviors.

This new treatment for people with internet or gaming addiction uses key parts of CBT, such as weekly procedures and therapy contracts. The goal is for individuals to use the internet in a productive way for work or school, while avoiding problematic behaviors like gaming.

The researchers used a customized short-term CBT that included 15 weekly group sessions and up to eight individual therapy sessions. The treatment involved three phases:

  • Phase one focused on education regarding internet and gaming addiction and setting goals for therapy.
  • Phase two introduced participants to therapeutic interventions to aid them in developing functional use of the internet rather than obsessive use.
  • Phase three, the final phase, was built off the previous phases to ensure abstinence from the problematic behaviors and included teaching techniques to prevent relapse.

About 90% of people who are treated for behavioral addictions — including gambling or internet and gaming addiction — are men. Therefore, this study utilized 150 young men, with an average age of 26. All of the participants admitted to having an internet addiction, which included online gaming.

The researchers compared men who received this type of CBT therapy to men who were not in treatment as of yet and found a substantial rate of relapse for internet and gaming addiction among those without treatment. The odds that people in treatment could avoid their problematic internet behaviors were actually 10 times higher than those who were not in treatment.

There is very little long-term data available to researchers because this is a new type of addiction, and this treatment is specific to Germany — not the United States, at least not yet. But there is hope that new therapies are being studied and developed.

Signs of an Internet and Gaming Addiction

Similar to the signs of gambling addiction, the signs of internet and gaming addiction include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms when the internet or game is not available
  • A persistent need to spend more time playing the game, regardless of other responsibilities
  • Continued use of the game regardless of negative consequences
  • Lying to friends and family about how much time is spent playing the game
  • A lack of ability to stop playing the game for longer than four days in a row

The main thing to watch for is how much internet or gaming activity is interfering with other aspects of an individual’s life. Changes in behaviors — such as not participating in hobbies or activities one used to enjoy — may be a sign of addiction. Of course, not everyone who plays video games all the time has an addiction. The estimate is somewhere between 1% to 9% of all gamers, including adults and children. But for those who do develop an addiction, it can wreak havoc on their life.

Preventing the Problem

There are many ways to try to keep the amount of time spent gaming under control:

  • Set time limits for play and stick to them.
  • Do other activities every day, including exercise, to lower the health risk of sitting and playing for long stretches of time.
  • Keep phones, computers, gaming systems, and other gadgets out of the bedroom to avoid playing at night.

For most of us, by making a conscious effort to not let our gaming get out of control, we can enjoy video games as they were intended. But some may need professional help to end their addiction.

Any behavior or hobby may become an addiction if it interferes with a person’s ability to engage in their daily activities. Addictions like these are often accompanied by depression-like symptoms and anxiety, and time spent on the internet or playing games becomes a way to cope with these and other issues in one’s life. If you or a loved one is showing signs of an internet or gaming addiction, Restorations Therapy can help. Our trained staff utilizes the most progressive therapy techniques to offer the highest quality care. To learn more, call us today at (720) 446-6585.

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