Sandra Richardson

Aug 18, 2021

Addiction plagues millions of people all around the world in countless ways. While some addicts turn to substances like alcohol and illegal drugs, other people develop behavioral addictions. Two of the most common are porn addiction and video game addiction.

 

Here we’ll take a closer look at these two addictions and how they’re related.

What is Video Game Addiction?

Let’s first explore video game addiction which affects 10% of the nearly 2 billion gamers around the world.

While research continues on exactly how to define video game addiction, Internet Gaming Disorder is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in their DSM-5. This manual, known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is used by mental health professionals to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. To be classified as an addiction, playing video games must cause significant impairment or distress in several areas of a person’s life as stated by the World Health Organisation.

This is the case for countless video game addicts who are compelled to play, despite the negative impacts and consequences.

Signs and Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

Behavioral addictions, by nature, are difficult to diagnose and recognize. That’s because the frequency with which addicts indulge in their “substance” of choice is subject to change based on every individual. Some people who play video games for hours a day see no problem with their behavior, while those closest to them may strongly disagree.

Another reason it’s difficult to diagnose video game addiction is that, in most cases, it doesn’t directly impact a person’s physical health. Instead, changes in their behavior, personality, and ability to function in everyday life are the most common signs that something is awry.

Here are the most common signs of video game addiction.

  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Obsessively thinking about video games
  • Strained personal relationships
  • Inability to perform daily responsibilities
  • Poor work performance
  • Anxiety and depression

In addition to these signs, more specific symptoms of a video game addiction include:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Insomnia or lack of sleep due to gaming
  • Neck and back pain
  • Eye strain or blurry vision
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Financial problems
  • Lying and sneaking around

The line between using video games for stress relief or a fun hobby and addiction is a fine one. Only you can determine if your habit is escalating into an addiction. The deciding factor is how much playing video games is negatively impacting your life. In some cases, it takes an unbiased third party to identify your addiction. Online treatment programs like The Mindful Gamer are designed to not only recognize and diagnose video game addiction but offer the resources and guidance needed to overcome it.

Why People Play Video Games

So, what’s the universal appeal of video games? The two main reasons people play video and internet games are for entertainment and stress relief.

Let’s face it, video games are fun! You get to compete against other players, explore fantasy realms, unlock new levels, and achieve epic goals. Video games offer a sense of accomplishment and increased self-confidence. In today’s digital world where billions of people are communicating online, MMO (massively multiplayer games) let people meet and socialize with like-minded individuals across the globe. This offers those with social anxiety a sense of belonging.

With nearly 80% of people experiencing stress that impacts their physical wellbeing, it’s no surprise that we’re always looking for ways to calm our minds and reduce stress and anxiety. Video games offer this outlet for billions of people. Even a brief escape from reality can help ease your troubles and renew your energy.

But, as we know, too much of a good thing can be dangerous. When a fun form of entertainment escalates into an addiction, all the benefits of video games are lost and replaced with even more unpleasant side effects.

What is Porn Addiction?

Like video game addiction, porn addiction is a behavioral condition requiring more research. Because sex and sexual arousal are natural and necessary parts of life, some people struggle to recognize and diagnose this addiction as well.

Porn addiction is identified by how much viewing and consuming pornographic material negatively impacts your life. In extreme cases, addicts become emotionally dependent on pornography to the point it interferes with their relationships and ability to function and perform daily tasks.

Signs and Symptoms of Porn Addiction

While viewing pornography occasionally for sexual pleasure or out of curiosity is not uncommon or unhealthy, if your urge to view pornography is consuming your mind and your life, you may have a problem.

Here are some tell-tale warning signs of porn addiction.

  • Less satisfied with sex
  • Lack of intimacy in your personal relationships
  • Preoccupation with porn
  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Poor job performance
  • Depression or anxiety

In addition to these surface signs that your porn habit has become an addiction, other more serious symptoms may express themselves over time. These include:

  • Engaging in risky behavior to indulge fantasies and urges
  • Inability to perform during sex (ED)
  • Ignoring important responsibilities to view porn
  • The need to view more violent, aggressive, or taboo porn
  • Lying about your addiction
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment
  • Spending excessive money on exclusive pornographic content
  • Using pornography to cope with depression or anxiety

These signs and symptoms can express themselves in a number of ways. You may identify with only a few or all of them. Only you can determine if viewing porn is a habit you can control or a compulsion that’s taking over your life.

Why People View Pornography

This might seem like a rhetorical question, but it’s not. Yes, most people view porn for sexual arousal and release. Many addicts view pornography and masturbate in an effort to achieve sexual pleasure and stress relief. In some situations, partners watch or read pornography together as a shared experience.

Porn can also be used as a form of sexual research. Some viewers admit to watching pornographic films and videos to gain experience and knowledge. Using porn as a learning tool can be dangerous since most pornographic scenarios aren’t realistic and contain paid actors that don’t look or react like everyday people.

On a positive note, porn can also be used for self-exploration as you safely explore your fantasies and desires. For people feeling bored or ambivalent about their current sexual situation, porn can offer a much-needed change without the need to be unfaithful.

Although viewing porn and masturbating can offer momentary stress relief, this is often replaced by feelings of shame and guilt.

Treating Video Game and Porn Addiction

As you can see, there are some obvious overlaps in the signs and symptoms of these two addictions, as well as the causes. That’s because both of these addictions are behavioral, making them slightly different than a physical addiction to substances like drugs and alcohol.

 

Let’s take a closer look at what defines a behavioral addiction and treatment options that can help both video game and porn addicts overcome and heal.

What is a Behavioral Addiction?

Behavioral addictions are defined as non-substance addictions. A person becomes dependent on specific behaviors (like playing video games or watching pornography) and, eventually, craves them as a release for other underlying issues. What’s interesting to note is that some studies actually believe behavioral addictions can cause physical dependencies. This is true for both porn and video game addiction.

When a person turns to these outlets for stress relief, a chemical reaction occurs in the brain. The stimulant (a video game or porn clip) triggers your brain to release chemicals like dopamine and serotonin which then create feelings of happiness and calm. Soon, your body will require more of the stimulant to produce the same reaction. While studies are still being done, even behavioral addictions can sometimes create a physical dependency.

Treating Behavioral Addictions

Some treatments work better than others to treat addictions like those to porn and video games.

Here are some of the most popular treatments available.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most popular and widely recognized ways to treat all forms of addiction, but most notably, behavioral addiction.

CBT involves changing a person’s thinking patterns. A licensed professional can help addicts recognize distortions and patterns in thinking that are causing the problem. Then, by comparing these thoughts to reality, the addict can reevaluate and adjust their thought process, gaining a better understanding of what’s motivating the behaviors.

Both video game and porn addicts can use CBT to recognize and control the thoughts and urges that trigger their need to play and view.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Similar to CBT, ACT, or acceptance and commitment therapy, and uses mindfulness and acceptance strategies to increase psychological flexibility. This form of therapy helps addicts embrace their thoughts and feelings instead of fighting against them or feeling guilty.

This is an especially helpful treatment for those with video game and porn addiction who might feel ashamed over their addiction. The more you try to ignore urges or penetrating thoughts, the more power they have over you. ACT can help you acknowledge those feelings and then let them go, breaking their hold on you.

Practicing mindfulness is another way to learn how to acknowledge, accept, and release negative thoughts and feelings.

Detox

Detox isn’t just for victims of substance abuse. While detox is commonly used to treat drug and alcohol addictions, it’s also a proven method for battling behavioral addictions to things like video games and porn.

Instead of the “cold turkey” method, detox allows addicts to slowly wean off their stimulant of choice for a set period of time. During this time, you vow not to engage in your behavior of choice. Many programs encourage the use of a trigger journal or another way to document your urges and reactions to them. This helps establish a pattern of behaviors.

Addicts can perform several detoxes of different lengths based on the severity of their addiction and specific goals.

Winning the Battle Over Video Game and Porn Addiction

Although these two addictions are drastically different, they share more similarities than most people recognize at first glance. A closer look uncovers that both video game and porn addiction are behavioral addictions with proven treatment methods that work.

As research continues on these two addictions, your best line of defense is to be honest and observant. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of addiction and be honest with yourself about how your behaviors are impacting your life.

Remember, admission is the first step to recovery and there are plenty of resources available to support you on the road to recovery.