Residential treatment and rehab for gaming addiction 

If you are worried about your gaming habits, we can help. At Paracelsus Recovery, you will obtain the psychological tools needed to break away from the cycle of addiction. We will create a unique treatment programme to help you develop coping strategies and address your root causes.

One Client at a Time

Unparalleled staff to patient ratio of 15:1

Gaming addiction treatment

Gaming addiction is the uncontrollable urge to play video games even though it is causing problems in other areas of your life. Like all addictions, people become dependent when they are struggling with difficult emotions, childhood events or real-life stress. People become hooked not on the game itself but on the ways in which the game detaches them from these circumstances. In other words, it becomes a coping mechanism.

At Paracelsus Recovery, our number one priority is understanding what difficulties you use games to manage. In simpler terms, we do not focus on the game but on why you need to play it. To achieve this, you will undergo an elaborate 360-degree 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.

Then, the treatment programme begins. During your stay, you work exclusively with our team of renowned specialists, therapists and doctors. In addition, a ‘live-in’ therapist will be available for emotional support around the clock. We will also provide numerous complementary therapies to minimise stress levels and medical treatments to rebalance your health.

We adopt a harm-reduction approach to addiction which means we will not insist that you give up gaming. Instead, we aim to recalibrate your relationship to it so that it no longer negatively impacts your life, future, or health.

We provide gaming addiction treatment in both Zurich and London.

Health risks and side effects

Signs and symptoms include

  • Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity or anticipation of the next session.
  • Getting lost in the game and staying up all night or spending more hours playing than you realise or intended. 
  • If in a multiplayer game, feeling excessively angry when your team loses or if you need to stop playing. 
  • Minimising the amount of time you spend playing with loved ones. 
  • Continuing to play games even though it means you will miss an important deadline or event.
  • Feeling stressed out and unhappy when playing but feeling unable to stop.
  • Not being able to quit or even play less.
  • Not wanting to do other things you used to like.
  • Needing to spend more and more time playing to feel calm or content.
  • Feelings of restlessness and/or irritability when unable to play.

What makes video games addictive?

If someone is addicted to video gaming, they are much more likely to develop other addictions down the line. Most notably, people who develop a video game addiction during their adolescence are at a higher risk of substance abuse issues later on in life, especially alcohol or cannabis dependency.

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.

When we engage in an activity that keeps us alive or helps us pass on our genes, our reward system sends out a chemical messenger called dopamine which gives us a hit of satisfaction to encourage us to repeat that action. Dopamine is powerful, addictive, and self-reinforcing. It helps sustain interest and attention, which is why it can be so hard to tear yourself away from a video game or Instagram post. Sustained exposure to excessive dopamine can, over time, lead to long-term changes in the brain that require extensive treatment to reverse. Much like social media, video games use state of the art behavioural psychology to release dopamine (and other feel-good chemicals) within our brain.

Other addictive components include

  • Games are social

Loneliness is one of the leading causes of addiction worldwide. Video games provide kids who are struggling socially with a clear-cut social system. If they are good at the game, people will want to play with them. This is actually a very positive component of gaming, but it can set the stage for addiction if that child is struggling with a sense of isolation in real life.

  • They trigger hyperarousal

Studies show that excessive video game use can result in a child’s brain being stuck in a fight-or-flight response. As a result, their brain releases an excessive amount of cortisol (the stress hormone). To relieve itself from that stress, the brain seeks out excess dopamine in either more video games or other addictive substances and behaviours like social media or alcohol. In other words, an addictive cycle is being formed.

  •  The achievement paradigm

Achievements will always feel good, which means they will trigger dopamine. If a young person feels as though they are lost or not achieving very much in their real life, games offer quick and easy measurable growth. The more they improve at the game, the more they feel as though they are moving forward.

Of course, this isn’t in and of itself dangerous. But if that person begins to substitute these feelings for the dopamine deficiency in their real life, that sense of virtual success becomes addictive. The more time they spend playing games, the less time they have to achieve their real-life goals. As a result, they feel worse about themselves and need to spend more time playing games to feel good, leading to an addictive cycle.

FAQs

The World Health Organisation recognised gaming disorder as a medical condition in 2018. As a result, studies and research remain lacking. However, we do know that gaming can be seen as either an impulse control disorder or a behavioural addiction. Adolescent and young men are the most at-risk group.

Experts, such as the American Academy of Paediatrics recommend a maximum of two hours per day of screen-based entertainment time.

If you are worried about your gaming habits, the first step is to uninstall the game. If you cannot do this, try to spend fewer hours a day playing. But, be extra-mindful when you stop gaming. If you have become dependent, it means your brain is accustomed to significant hits of dopamine, which you might try to seek out in other substances or behaviours. It usually takes our brains two weeks to recalibrate to normal dopamine levels.

Yes, of course. However, we recommend, if possible, not to be accompanied by family, friends or an entourage in the first weeks of treatment.

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.

360-Degree Treatment Approach — The most extensive and comprehensive treatment worldwide.

Medical Check-ups
& Treatments
Addiction
Counselling
Extensive
Psychotherapy
Eye Movement Desensitisation
and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Family
Therapy
Psychoeducation 
Neurofeedback 
Interval Hypoxic
Hyperoxic Treatment
Biochemical
Restoration
Probiotic Therapies
& Psychonutrition
Lifestyle &
Nutritional Counselling
Biofeedback
& Bioresonance
Yoga 
Reflexology
& Acupuncture
Massages 
Personal Training