A 14-year-old Michigan teen named Josh was so consumed in his gaming lifestyle that he stopped going to school. He told his parents that he was dropping out and played video games for over 12 hours a day. He would only stop playing to eat, go to the bathroom, and sleep. The sleep deprivation caused by his addiction made him extremely anxious and caused him to have emotional outbursts.
His family would try to hide his games, shut off the router, or even take his computer. Nothing worked. Without his gaming, Josh would punch holes in the walls, scream, and do whatever he could to get them back. The family realized that this was more than an over-the-top love of video games. He was brought to a rehab facility called Outback. This program takes participants into the wilderness and teaches them survival skills. It acts as a place to reset the brain, learn healthy coping skills, and understand underlying problems.
Upon Josh's return 10 weeks later, his parents said that he was like a new person. He understood that his gaming addiction was caused by underlying depression and anxiety. The games he played allowed him to escape from his problems and pushed the issues downward. The emotional outbursts he experienced stemmed from these bottled up emotions and lack of coping skills.
Josh is not alone. Many people use video games as an escape from their daily struggles, myself included. While it can be helpful at times, in larger doses this can become a serious issue. It no longer serves as a coping mechanism and instead becomes a way to completely ignore and shut down your feelings. When you get to the point of dropping out, quitting your job, or if you stop taking care of yourself, these are clear signs of a problem. While some people may have more severe or less severe cases, there is help available to you.