Friday, July 20, 2012

Video Game Addiction

We all hear of addiction related deaths such as overdoses from drug action, heart failure from food addiction and eating disorders and cancer from nicotine addiction – but little is heard about the deaths associated with gaming and Internet addiction.

Last week an 18 year old named Chuang was found dead after a “marathon” gaming session. Chuang was reportedly obsessed with the game Diablo III, released in May of this year and played for 40 hours straight before falling to his death.
He had booked a room in an Internet café in Taiwan without sleeping or eating for the duration of his stay. On Sunday a café employee found him lying across a table. The café employee was able to successfully wake him but after Chuang took a few steps he collapsed and was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after.  Authorities reported that he likely suffered blood clots from sitting for 40 hours straight.

Unfortunately, death from gaming is no longer a rare occurrence, as these stories are becoming increasingly common, particularly in Asia. For example, last year a 30 year-old gamer died after 72 hours of consecutive playing in China and this past February a Taipei man, Chen Rong-yu, had a fatal heart attack in an Internet café - also after 3 days of playing with limited food or water. Chen Rong-yu was reportedly dead for nine hours in the company of fellow gamers before they noticed.

A recent study published in The Lancet Medical Journal showed that inactivity kills as many people globally as smoking does. The report asserted that the problem of inactivity is a "pandemic" and that it should be pushed into the spotlight as a public health issue. However, in the case of these gamers, the primary culprit is addiction resulting in inactivity.

Video game and Internet addiction has become increasingly problematic among youth and young adults. It looks just like other addictions and can be just as dangerous. Gaming and Internet addiction is known as a “process addiction.” The signs of a process addiction is tantamount to that of an alcohol or cocaine addiction - having to play or use more and more to achieve the same high and continuing to engage in the behaviors despite the increasingly negative impacts – such as poor school performance or increased isolation from family and friends.

If you or a loved one is at risk of an internet or gaming addiction, fortunately there are effective addiction treatment centers that offer specialized programs for process addictions.  

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