Video game addiction may sound far-fetched to some people. Recent research has shown that chemicals in the brain such as endorphins and dopamine are released by the brain when we play violent video games. These chemicals have an effect similar to drugs.
Addiction is less about the substance or activity and more about the underlying behavior. A drug addict doesn’t necessarily love their drug as much as they love what the drug does for them. Specifically, the drug makes them feel differently than they did previously. Similarly, a person dealing with an Internet addiction craves the feeling produced by the endorphins which are released while online.
Over the years I have played just about every violent video game on the market. Some were more fun than others but a couple really jumped out and grabbed my interest. My favorites were usually those video games with a social aspect. If I could play with or against other real people…count me in. Like everything else in my life, I went too far. Someone once said that most addicts unknowingly live by the mantra “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing”. That certainly described me. I couldn’t play just a little while. I had to play until my wrists cramped and my eyes were dried out. These were some of the key signs of Internet addiction.
Video Game Addiction and Unhealthy Behaviors
The behavior surrounding my gaming was clearly not healthy. Anyone could see that. But, what about the big question…why. When I played a video game I could interact with people and not be uncomfortable. I could be a hero. For a while I could step away from the very plain guy I had always been.
This compulsive behavior felt a lot like the emotions related to my earlier problems with alcohol. I was not comfortable in my own skin. I really didn’t like myself. Even though I put on a good show, I had always been uncomfortable around people. For a while, alcohol changed all that for me. It worked nicely for several years, but the cost eventually became too much.
Luckily I have learned to live without alcohol and video games. That was a choice I made for my life. It’s not necessarily the right choice for everyone. Just as most people who drink alcohol do so in a healthy manner, many people enjoy an occasional online video game without slipping into video game addiction.
However, if video games (or alcohol for that matter) have become a problem for you then you cannot count yourself in that “normal” majority. How you proceed is up to you, know addictions always get worse. They never get better on their own. Of course, this includes video game addiction!