Morningside Recovery, a leading substance abuse and mental health recovery center in Southern California, has founded a highly unique, all-inclusive recovery program focusing on compulsive video and online gaming—a growing issue among teen and young adult males.
With presales reaching a record high for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, in conjunction with the recently released Call of Duty: Ghosts, gamers are even more susceptible to becoming lost in a virtual world.
According to the Entertainment Software Association, 51% of U.S. households own a dedicated game console and those that do own an average of two (2013). The videogame developer for Call of Duty claims that gamers have logged over 25 billion online hours for the franchise (Prescott, 2013).
This issue requires more than just powering down. Problem gamers are driven to increase status within the games' online communities; often to escape the problems of their everyday lives. For young males in particular, long periods of time spent gaming, lack of social skills, and impulsivity are considered strong risk factors for compulsive gaming.
"Mistaking video game interaction for interpersonal relationships can be easily reinforced and is detrimental to children and young adults," says Morningside Recovery's Clinical Director Dr. Gerald Grosso. As he explains, "They often miss opportunities to develop the social skills needed to reach developmental milestones, making relationships difficult and awkward."
Compulsive gamers are also more likely to be diagnosed with other disorders including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Addressing these issues along with the actual compulsive behavior is crucial to successfully treating compulsive gaming, which shares many attributes with certain process addictions like gambling or shopping.