Video Games, Internet, Gambling Are All Addictive

Video game addiction is not a classified addiction according to psychological professionals and scientific researchers. For the many people who experience the obsessive and compulsive need to play video games, feeling out of control of their ability to stop, the term ‘addiction’ seems adequate. Defined addictions like gambling addiction, alcohol addiction, and drug and addiction, have clear evidence based treatment methods. Though there isn’t a standard route of care and rehabilitation, there are multiple methods for treatment which are proven to reduce symptoms and provide tools for long term recovery. Video game addiction, which doesn’t have a distinct category, falls into a limbo when it comes to treatment. Some parts internet addiction, some parts compulsion, other parts a process addiction- the approach to a video game addiction should be treated with an individualized approach, looking at the specific needs of the person addicted.

Writing about video game addiction, The Chicago Tribune descriptively explains, “Treatment specialists are uncommon, their methods are unproven and their care is rarely reimbursed by insurance.” Sporadically, internet, gaming, and technology addiction focused recovery centers are popping up, but can be difficult to have covered by insurances. “Many gamers thus have to figure out recovery for themselves, coming up with their own techniques to wrestle their habits into submission,” the article describes. “For them, there’s no final boss to defeat, no level up that will free them for good- only constant temptation lurking behind a sea of screens.”

What Causes Video Game Addiction

All addictions, from sex and gambling to drugs and alcohol, provide a pay off. Neurologically, there is the payoff of dopamine production and stimulation of the brain’s reward center. Psychologically, something deeper typically occurs. Most video game addicts will describe feeling unsatisfied or empty in some area of their life. Anxiety, depression, and trauma are common mental health issues which can lead to compulsive coping behaviors like video gaming. Filling a hole, or a need, despite growing negative consequences, like poor physical health, anti socialism, or co-occurring substance abuse, the positive payoff is enough.

The combination of psychological and neurological factors is enhanced by the way the brain responds to chronic engagement with screens. Most modern digital devices which require screen-time interaction are supported by a blue light beneath the surface. This blue light mimics natural daylight, causing stimulation in the brain to be awake. Other rewards like winning, teamwork, advancing levels, and more gaming celebrations, create deep memory associations.


Recovering from video game addiction at a residential treatment level is possible at LEAD Recovery Center. Our transitional living programs are open to everyone in need of creating structure and sobriety in their life in order to achieve full autonomy. Call us today for more information, at 800-380-0012.