In 2019, the World Health Organization officially declared Video Gaming Disorder as an official mental health diagnosis and recent statistics show that over 164 million Americans play video games.
While a great form of entertainment, the addictive natures of these games are caused by the effects of elevated dopamine on the brain. Dopamine is a pleasure chemical that’s evolved for our survival, but sometimes the brain gets highjacked by addictive substances and behaviors like video games.
When video games reward you or you experience something new, a small dose of dopamine is delivered to your brain.
What makes video games particularly addictive is the variability in when and how you receive rewards in the game, and that makes the video game similar to a slot machine.
Over time the brain’s dopamine receptors can become accustomed to this dose of dopamine which we call tolerance.
This makes video game addiction similar to drug and alcohol addiction. The brain does not care what substance or behavior is providing the dopamine, it just knows that it wants it again and the more variable and novel it is the stronger that additive pull will be.
The addictive properties of video gaming can be related to other addictive behaviors such as gambling, pornography, or shopping. Video games are designed intentionally to give players the feeling that they can and should always improve on their previous performance.
Players are left with the feeling of potential and of maybe getting to that new goal or achievement. They could possibly level-up the next time they play, or they could beat that level or task that has been driving them crazy. It is this same potential that keeps gamblers coming back to the casinos.
Learn more about:
Video Game Addiction
Smart Phone Addiction
Social Media Addiction
About Process Addiction Disorders
Process Addiction Disorders are extreme or compulsive forms of a behavior that the individual is unable or is unwilling to stop despite the legal, financial, family, or other consequences.
Activities that fall into process addiction are ones that people engage in every day, such as shopping, gambling, exercise, eating, or sex. These non-substance related activities are ones that, unlike the general public, they struggle with the mental or physical health issues that arise as a consequence of their inability to stop without treatment.
Lifeskills South Florida’s clinical team is highly trained in process addiction treatment and creates a customized plan for each individual depending on their needs and willingness to engage in treatment.