Counseling program for teen video game addiction

Video Game Addiction Treatment for Teens

Video game addiction, also commonly referred to as video game overuse, is excessive or compulsive use of computer and video games to such an extent that it interferes with daily life. Some cases have been reported in which teens play compulsively, isolating themselves from social contact and focusing almost entirely on in-game achievements rather than actual real to life events. There is no official diagnosis of video game addiction, although it has been proposed for inclusion in the next version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Video Game Addiction: How Common is it?


Video game addiction is one of the fastest growing types of addiction. Playing video games can seem like a harmless way for teens to relax, but this behavior can sometimes spiral into a serious video game addiction. Since the problem is a relatively new issue in society, the exact cause of video game addiction unknown. However, the treatment is the same as drug addiction and often requires an addiction recovery treatment program. This addiction seems to be most prevalent with male teens and young adults.  The addiction can also be seen in adolescent girls as well.

Characteristics of video game addiction include:

1. The teen needs more and more engagement in video gaming behavior to keep him/her going.

2. If the teen does not get more video gaming engagement, he/she becomes irritable and miserable.

Teen video gaming addicts often demonstrate withdrawal symptoms similar to drug addiction including becoming angry, violent, or depressed.

Detox from Video Games?

As unusual as this sounds, there actually is a Detoxification process for video game addiction. Similair to other addictions, the objective is to disrupt the addiction and replace the addictive behavior with healthy coping skills. With video game addiction, the video games and source of gaming is removed. As the removal of the source of addiction occurs, other psychological issues typically emerge which reveal the core issues driving the addiction. 

Many teens use video gaming as a form of “self-medicating” or seeking a feel-good feeling in response to unwanted emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, stress, boredom, discouragement, abuse or trauma. The need to escape and temporarily avoid emotional pain increases and the video gaming becomes addictive, resulting in daily life responsibilities and relationships, suffering and eventually making daily life functions nearly impossible.

Counseling and Therapy Programs for Teen Video Game Addiction

The treatment approach for video game addiction includes disrupting the addiction and then replacing it with healthy coping skills.  Programs such as Family Bootcamp offer an immediate and hard hitting intervention for disrupting a pattern of video game addiction.  Once the disruption occurs, it is followed up with psychotherapy in the form of individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. Family Bootcamp uses a wilderness therapy approach to disrupt the pattern and then intervene with psychotherapy.

Addiction Warning Signs – Video Game Addiction

Warning signs for video game addiction in teens include:

Playing for increasing amounts of time

Thinking about gaming during other activities

Gaming to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression

Lying to friends and family to conceal gaming

Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on gaming

Loss of time with family and friends

Loss of time in academics

Loss of time in employment 

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