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Gaming and Gambling Addiction

Gaming and gambling are very similar activities, and both are very addictive. Some studies (2019) even show that children who become dependent on gaming are at an increased risk of developing a gambling dependency later in life. 

However, they are not identical activities. Just as alcohol and cocaine may be abused for similar reasons, each substance requires a specific treatment plan. It is vital for any treatment provider out there to understand the similarities and differences between gaming and gambling. Otherwise, we fail to grasp the nuances of these conditions, which lowers our client’s chances of a long-lasting recovery. 

Video game addiction occurs when the compulsive urge to play games takes precedence over other life interests. 

Gaming addictions can set the stage for other issues later in life, including substance abuse dependency, gambling addiction, anxiety, and depression. However, countless studies show that the sooner a mental health issue is addressed, the greater the chances of long-term recovery. 

Paracelsus Recovery is proud to be one of the few treatment centres globally to offer a specialised gaming addiction treatment programme. We can help your child address each underlying issue and construct healthier ways of coping with life’s stressors.

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Gambling addiction, also called compulsive gambling or gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. 

Like all addictions, it functions as a coping mechanism to temporarily escape from difficult emotions, childhood traumas or present-day events. Unfortunately, gambling addiction is highly co-occurring with other addictions, especially alcohol abuse dependency. 

At Paracelsus Recovery, we adopt a holistic approach to gambling addiction. During your stay with us, we will help you identify the underlying causes of your gambling addiction. We then create an individualised treatment plan designed to address these specific issues. 

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Gaming Addiction
Gambling Addiction

Gaming Addiction

Video game addiction occurs when the compulsive urge to play games takes precedence over other life interests. 

Gaming addictions can set the stage for other issues later in life, including substance abuse dependency, gambling addiction, anxiety, and depression. However, countless studies show that the sooner a mental health issue is addressed, the greater the chances of long-term recovery. 

Paracelsus Recovery is proud to be one of the few treatment centres globally to offer a specialised gaming addiction treatment programme. We can help your child address each underlying issue and construct healthier ways of coping with life’s stressors.

Read more

Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction, also called compulsive gambling or gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. 

Like all addictions, it functions as a coping mechanism to temporarily escape from difficult emotions, childhood traumas or present-day events. Unfortunately, gambling addiction is highly co-occurring with other addictions, especially alcohol abuse dependency. 

At Paracelsus Recovery, we adopt a holistic approach to gambling addiction. During your stay with us, we will help you identify the underlying causes of your gambling addiction. We then create an individualised treatment plan designed to address these specific issues. 

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What are the Similarities?

  • Behavioural Addictions. 

Both gaming and gambling are known as behavioural or process addictions. This means you are addicted to a set of actions (a process) instead of a specific substance. While we used to think of addiction as a dependency on a chemical, we now know that it is not the external substance we become addicted to but the chemicals it releases within our brains. As such, any activity that releases feel-good chemicals has the potential to be addictive. 

  • Confusion around Classification.

Until recently, there was much debate over whether gambling was an addiction or an impulse-control disorder. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) officially defined gambling as an addiction in the DSM‑5.  

Similarly, the World Health Organisation recognised gaming disorder as an impulse control issue in 2018. They then defined it as a behavioural addiction in 2019. It is yet to be included in the DSM. 

  • They Both Trigger a Hyperarousal Cycle. 

Each activity lends itself to the formation of an addictive cycle. Studies show that excessive gaming can result in a child’s brain being stuck in a fight-or-flight response. The same is true for gambling due to the inevitable highs and lows you go through when gambling. Our brain seeks out excess dopamine in either more video games, more gambling, or other addictive substances to cope with this stress. 

What are the Differences?

  • Levels of Risk 

One of the most significant differences between gaming and gambling is the level of risk involved. For example, there are no financial stakes engaged with video games. Winning a video game also requires cognitive skill, whereas winning at gambling is usually a matter of luck. 

  • Root-Causes

When we suddenly win massive amounts of money, our brain will release equally excessive amounts of dopamine. However, for someone to seek out this kind of risk, they are usually seeking thrills. There will be numerous reasons for this, but it is generally due to a sense that something is missing, making us enjoy the rush that comes with living life on the edge. In contrast, gaming can be addictive because games provide a sense of constant and subtle achievement. Known as the ‘achievement paradigm,’ people become dependent on this feeling when they feel as though they are not achieving as much in their own lives. 

  • Different Comorbidities. 

Dependencies breed other dependencies. But because of the differences, the types of issues that these addictions lead to are different. Gambling can produce a profound amount of guilt, especially when you’ve lost vast sums of money. These emotions can damage your self-esteem and set the stage for depression or alcohol abuse issues. In contrast, gaming addiction tends to go together with cannabis abuse issues and generalised anxiety disorder

FAQs

No, they are different activities. Gaming refers to playing interactive and usually online games. These usually require building skills and are used as a form of entertainment. Gambling involves wagering money on games with an uncertain outcome. However, when someone develops an addiction to either behaviour, the addictive make-up is similar.

Yes, but only very recently and it remains a debated topic. In 2018, The World Health Organization added gaming disorder to the International Classification of Diseases. But the American Psychiatry Association has not yet added it to their DSM‑5 manual. At Paracelsus Recovery we have worked with many clients, usually younger people, struggling with gaming addiction. We have no doubt in our mind that gaming can be highly addictive given the right psychological, physical, social and genetic factors. 

Yes, and other addictions. Any act or substance which overactivated the brain’s reward system can lead to dependency. For example, if a child spends most of their adolescence playing video games, they will be accustomed to excess dopamine. When they suddenly stop playing, they often seek out those chemicals elsewhere. Studies also show that specific games, such as loot boxes, video game features used by nearly 40% of children, are directly linked to gambling issues later in life. 

At Paracelsus Recovery, our number one priority is to understand your relationship with games. To achieve this, you will undergo an elaborate 360° assessment once you arrive at our exclusive clinical residence. This includes an extensive medical check-up, psychiatric evaluation, comprehensive laboratory tests, a functional health assessment, nutrition, and lifestyle assessment. With this information, we will create an individually tailored treatment plan. We adopt a harm-reductionist approach to addiction. This means that, if you do not want to give up gaming, we will never make you. Instead, we will help you create a healthier relationship with video games. 

At Paracelsus Recovery, we only have one client at a time and we tailor make each treatment programme to suit their specific needs. We believe that when an individual begins to excessively depend on a substance or behaviour, they are suffering from internal imbalances. These include biochemical imbalances, emotional issues, trauma, relational issues or unsustainable volumes of stress. If you are struggling with a gaming addiction, our team will help you restore the underlying imbalances.

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