Video Games And Substance Abuse Disorders: An Underlying Menace Affecting Society?

Jul 29, 2022

Video games seem like a harmless thing, right? Sure, you play them regularly because it’s someone’s favorite thing to do and it’s fun. But is there a connection between them and substance abuse?

This write up will focus on whether or not video games may be to blame for the ongoing drug problem occuring nationwide. If you or someone you know is dealing with addiction, you’ll want to consider your treatment options. For more information, check out Gallus Detox on their website using the following link: https://www.gallusdetox.com/locations/arizona/phoenix-detox-center/.

If you are wondering if video games may be to blame for substance abuse or may be interested in learning more about a potential connection, keep reading. Let’s take a deeper look at whether video games are more of a problem than not.

Can drug addiction cause video game addiction?

Drug addiction and video game addiction are two separate kinds. However, one can occur alongside the other. For example, one can use certain stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamines in order to stay awake so they can play longer sessions.

Caffeine has also been considered the chief stimulant of choice since many video gamers can be copious amounts of caffeinated beverages. Some may even use certain supplements containing caffeine. Other drugs that have been used include marijuana, alcohol and tobacco.

In a study done in 2016, teenagers that were playing video games that involved the use of alcohol and tobacco were twice as likely to use it themselves. So, video games may have little influence in how a young person decides to use certain substances. 

With that said, video game addiction can occur before a drug addiction does. Yet, there is not enough evidence stating that it can be one of the starting points for the latter to occur. This means that video games will not inspire someone to partake in any kind of drugs or substances.

While they are addicted to one thing, they can be able to partake in drugs to the point where an addiction can occur. This can take some coercion on the part of their peers. Someone may be playing video games with someone in-person or online.

At any point, they may talk them into using a certain drug for whatever reason. They’ll try it to see if it can enhance their video gaming performance and galvanize their pre-existing video game addiction. Whether they try it again later on or not is at their own discretion.

Are there any similarities between drugs and gaming addiction

One of the major similarities that both drug and gaming addiction have with one another include the activation of neural circuits. When a person is playing video games, it will activate the amygdala part of the brain, which is responsible for the reward system that occurs when someone is doing an enjoyable activity.

The same occurs if someone is partaking in drugs. The reward process will work to allow the brain to learn about this process where they are rewarded with feeling enjoyment during the activity. It gets to the point where it will be embedded in their memory.

Next, they will experience urges at a conscious level to use the substances more. And from there, the impulse control in their brains will become much lower. Like almost any addiction, there appears to be a process that occurs in the brain where the reward system is activated and it creates a cycle where an addiction can occur if the brain is programmed to a point where you need that substance or to play a video game.

Granted, video games and harmful substances are two different things. But, each addiction has its own health issues that can be severe. For example, video game addiction can lead to several health issues including obesity, cardiovascular issues due to prolonged sitting, and even seizures.

Video games and drug addiction: What are the numbers?

In 2011, a study showed that there has been a relationship between compulsive gaming and certain drugs that have been used. The statistics are as follows:

  • 80 percent of gamers have used marijuana while playing
  • 61 percent used tobacco
  • 41 percent used caffeine
  • 38 percent used alcohol

As you may have noticed, other stimulants such as meth and cocaine were not mentioned. This can be due to the fact that it’s less than ideal to use it while gaming or if there is a lack of access. Regardless, the study shows that gaming and the use of certain substances are common.

Can video game addiction and drug addiction be treated at the same time?

The short answer is yes. The long answer, it can be a challenge since you will be dealing with two different types of addiction. However, a rehab facility that focuses on both of these can be your best option.

As part of your treatment process, you will need to undergo therapeutic sessions including for substance abuse, mental health, and others. If you need to undergo a medical detox for your drug addiction (which may have pre-existed or coincided with video games), this will be part of your treatment plan as well. In the beginning, you will undergo an evaluation to determine which type of addiction treatment you will receive.

If you are dealing with a serious drug addiction, your recovery in this area should be one of your top priorities.

Final Thoughts

Video games may not trigger substance abuse disorders per se. But some may be inspired by video games to pick up alcohol and tobacco related habits. These seem to be blamed for many things in the past, yet there seems to be no solid argument in changing how video games are developed and depicted.

However, video games can be addicting and can have long-term effects healthwise. It can also work alongside a drug addiction which can make things more challenging. If you or someone you know is struggling with these issues, it’s never too late to get the help you need. 

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