Video Game Dependency

Video Game addiction, video games and drug use

Video game addiction is a very real phenomenon, and demonstrates a real and serious threat to the addict’s health.

Video games have exploded in popularity, but they’re not all fun and games. Video game addiction is a very real phenomenon, and demonstrates a real and serious threat to the addict’s health. When can you tell when a love for video games has become something more dangerous? As with other addictive behaviors, there are signs that can indicate a problem in need of treatment. If you’re concerned that you or a loved one may have a video game addiction, look at the list of possible signs and symptoms below. If you recognize two or more of these behaviors, it may be time to seek professional help. At Northbound, we can assist you in discerning if a problem exists and how it can be treated.

Lack of Control

Individuals who are addicted to or are developing an addiction to gaming are often unable to control the amount of time they spend on the computer or game console. The individual may begin with the intention of spending 15 or 20 minutes enjoying the game, but continue until several hours have passed.


Individuals who are addicted to video games often exhibit an unusual preoccupation with the game or computer when they are away from it. Gaming often consumes their mind and serves as a distraction from responsibilities and other hobbies.

Downplaying Computer Use or Gaming Time

Individuals with addictive gaming-related behaviors often downplay the amount of time they spend in front of the TV or computer.

Negative Impact on Other Areas of Life

Spending inordinate amounts of time on a computer or video game console often leads addicted individuals to neglect other areas of their life, with an especially negative effect on personal relationships.  The individual may grow distant from friends and family with whom they had previously been close.

Hiding From Negative or Uncomfortable Feelings or Situations

As with other addictive behaviors, gaming can often be a form of self-medication, with increasing frequency leading to addiction. When confronted with situations or feelings that are unhappy, uncomfortable, or anxiety-inducing, the person may use the game as a method of avoidance.


Denial upon being asked or confronted about time spent gaming is often an indication that something is wrong. This is especially true when the person in question appears to be unconcerned in the face of failing personal relationships. It is common for family and friends to feel neglected as a result of an individual’s excessive gaming — a lack of concern or a defensive reaction when confronted with this fact can be telling.

A gaming addiction can be defined as a daily maladaptive behavior that results in negative consequences, and is often diagnosed along with another mental disorder or chemical dependency. A video game addiction is an impulse control disorder, much like addiction to cocaine or alcohol. Northbound treats video game addiction in much the same way as we treat substance abuse addictions. We acknowledge that addiction is a disease and our treatment methods are designed to help clients live healthy lives.


Research has shown that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often effective in treating individuals suffering from both a video game addiction and a co-occurring condition.  Northbound takes a holistic approach to treatment, combining drug therapies with talk therapy and a 12-step program to begin the healing process.  Video game addiction is generally treated at a rehab center, as dedicated video game addiction treatment centers are rare and difficult to find.

In particular, attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is a very common co-occurring disorder with video game addiction. Northbound is equipped to handle this dual-diagnosis and will work to develop a unique individual treatment program that addresses both issues. Our clinical team continually updates their clinical approaches based on the newest research and training techniques available. Through research and experience, we’ve learned that one of the greatest allies in the fight against video game addiction is time — the longer the client stays in a safe and therapeutic environment, the lower the rate of relapse. This is why Northbound has developed our PHASE system which allows clients to progress towards independence while still being held accountable and receiving treatment.

A gaming addiction often takes over an individual’s life with devastating results. Sufferers often completely stop taking care of themselves, leading to personal and professional problems. Long-term abstinence from gaming allows the video game addict to get his or her life back. Treatment at Northbound will teach healthy behaviors and responses and assist the individual in learning how to safely and productively interact with computers and video games in the future.