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Video game addiction treatment near los angeles

Video gaming, a captivating blend of entertainment and technology, has soared in popularity, becoming a cornerstone of modern leisure. Yet, this immersive world is not without its pitfalls. For some, what starts as casual play escalates into excessive gaming, blurring the line between a hobby and an addiction. This shift often goes unnoticed until it begins to disrupt daily life. The diverse designs of video games – from story-driven adventures to competitive online battles – play a significant role in this transition. Each game offers a unique experience, but also carries the potential for overuse. Understanding video game addiction starts with recognizing its roots in the vast landscape of gaming – an industry designed to engage, captivate, and sometimes, ensnare.

If you are looking for help with video game addiction for yourself, or a loved one, please reach out and schedule a free consultation call and we can discuss options. I provide in person therapy sessions in Los Angeles and can provide online sessions if you live in California. 

I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over a decade of working with individuals who are struggling with addiction of various forms. In addition to being an experienced therapist, I'm a professor of Group Process, a Certified Group Psychotherapist and Clinical Director and Supervisor.

  • Approximately 2% of the adult population experiences Video Game Addiction or Gaming Disorder.

  • The rates are about 2.5 times higher in males compared to females

  • Younger individuals have higher rates of GD than older people 

    • Children and adolescents: 6.6% 

    • Young adults: 3.4% 

    • All adults: 1.9%

  • Approximately 10% of people with gambling problems also experience gaming problems 

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Gaming Disorder is defined as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (digital gaming or video gaming) characterized by: 

  • Impaired Control Over Gaming: 

  • Increasing Priority Given to Gaming

  • Continuation or Escalation of Gaming Despite Negative Consequences

  • Significant Impairment or Distress: 

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is recognized as a serious condition where gaming overtakes other life interests and daily activities. Characterized by symptoms such as impaired control over gaming, increased priority given to gaming, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences, IGD reflects a significant disruption in personal, family, and professional areas. This disorder, while centered around gaming, goes beyond mere enthusiasm, becoming a detrimental obsession that impairs functioning. In exploring the common comorbidities associated with IGD, it's evident that this disorder often coexists with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, amplifying its severity. These overlapping conditions can complicate both diagnosis and treatment, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach. The psychology behind gaming addiction is complex, involving factors such as escapism, the need for social connection, and the rewarding nature of games that trigger the brain's reward system. These psychological aspects contribute to the development and maintenance of IGD, making it a multifaceted issue that requires an understanding of both the allure and risks of gaming.

Proper screening for gaming disorder is important in identifying individuals at risk and ensuring they receive appropriate intervention.


Research indicates that clinicians, particularly those in gambling treatment services, recognize the importance of screening and are willing to administer standardized tools if available, but if your therapist is unfamiliar with the symptoms and signs of gaming addiction, it might not be treated most beneficially.

Referring individuals with gaming disorder to specialized treatment is a critical step following screening. Customized treatment, based on individual preferences and needs, often necessitates a multi-modal delivery system, allowing variations in treatment intensity through in-person, self-help, and internet-based options


Video Game Assessment Test

Impaired Control Over Gaming:

This is marked by difficulties in controlling when to start or stop gaming, how long to play, and often, the intensity of the gaming sessions. If you find it hard to limit your gaming time, or if gaming frequently overshadows your intentions to engage in other activities, it might be indicative of impaired control.

Increasing Priority Given to Gaming:

When gaming becomes more than just a hobby and starts taking precedence over other interests, activities, and responsibilities, it’s a significant sign. If you notice that gaming is consistently the top priority in your day-to-day life, overshadowing work, education, or relationships, it's worth paying attention to.

Continuation Despite Negative Consequences:

A key signal of gaming disorder is continuing to game even when it's causing problems. This could mean playing games despite knowing it's hurting your relationships, affecting your job or school performance, or leading to physical or psychological distress.

Functional Impairment in Important Areas of Life:

Gaming disorder can lead to notable impairments in personal, family, social, educational, or occupational areas. If your gaming habits are causing significant challenges in any of these areas, it might be a cause for concern.

Cue Reactivity and Craving:

This aspect refers to a strong desire or urge to game, triggered by gaming-related cues. These cues could be anything from seeing a gaming console, advertisements for games, or even discussions about gaming. If these cues trigger a strong urge to play, it's a sign of cue reactivity and craving associated with gaming disorder.

Dysfunctional Decision-Making:

Individuals with gaming disorders often experience difficulties in controlling impulses, especially when exposed to gaming-related stimuli. This can lead to poor decision-making, where the immediate gratification of gaming outweighs the negative long-term consequences. If you find yourself making decisions favoring gaming at the expense of other important aspects of life, it might indicate impaired inhibitory control.

People can get addicted to video games due to two main factors mentioned in the webpage content:

  • Brain Chemical Changes: Playing video games releases dopamine, a 'happy' chemical associated with pleasure and reward. Over time, excessive gaming can lead to abnormally high levels of dopamine release. This association between gaming and pleasure makes it difficult for some individuals to stop, leading to addiction.

  • Emotional Influences: Gaming can provide an escape from negative emotions or mental health conditions like stress, depression, or anxiety. Video games offer achievement systems that boost self-esteem and well-being. However, these positive feelings are often short-lived, causing individuals to seek more gaming to avoid negative thoughts and problems.

My approach to treating video game addiction is based in over ten years of working with clients who are struggling with substance use addictions and process addictions like gambling and video games.

One of the main goals of treatment with this type of addiction is to develop strategies to reduce the amount of gaming time and/or abstain altogether for a period that we co-create. Gaming in moderation is the ultimate goal.


The more specific treatment goals will likely be expanded to improve my client's quality of life and their general well-being, improve the quality of IRL relationships, and increase interactions with work, school, fun activities, and interests.

My focus in therapy is primarily on beliefs and thoughts related to self-control, perceptions of triggers and urges, managing high-risk situations, and exploring identity and lifestyle balance.  In my experience, what I tend to find helpful and effective is to challenge and replace faulty beliefs about gaming.


These might include beliefs about "expectancy" like the idea that the downside of playing games is not as significant as the benefits,  and all-or-nothing thinking, such as "might as well keep on playing now that I've been doing it for four hours".Another bias is rooted in the idea that the amount of time and/ or money invested in the game is enough reason to continue to play. There might also be ideas about playing the game that is the 'correct' or 'best' way to play, which involves duration of time or time of day.  

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