When we think of severe addictions, we of course think of the addictions that put people in immediate danger, such as a heroin or cocaine addiction. However, just because an addiction does not pose an immediate threat does not make it any less of an addiction. A gaming or gambling addiction, for example, can cause critical damage to a person’s life in a number of ways.
Gaming addiction typically refers to a compulsion to play video games, either alone or online with friends. Gaming may seem like a harmless habit, but when it becomes an addiction that devours many hours in a day, it is detrimental to your health, relationships and responsibilities. Because it is such an inactive use of time, the gamer will more than likely experience weight gain, a slowed metabolism and other potential health risks. They will begin to push the people in their life away through neglect and find themselves with fewer close relationships. Their personal obligations and commitments will suffer as they devalue everything but gaming in importance.
Gambling addiction is similar to gaming addiction in that it takes something meant to be a pass time and places at an exaggerated level of importance, but gambling differs from gaming in that the stakes are raised. When money is involved, there is a higher thrill and a higher cost. This element of danger is the addictive draw to gambling, and also the reason it can prove so devastating to a person’s life. Though gambling is not draining on a person’s physical and mental health the way that a substance addiction is, it can leave them in complete financial ruin, isolate them from anyone who cared for them and destroy their reputation among co-workers and peers. Plus, a person who is badly entrenched in a gambling debt may have borrowed money from dangerous people in order to finance their habit. If they are unable to pay them back, they have put their safety at risk.
Gaming and gambling addictions lead to broken, dysfunctional lives. It has been found that the brain’s dopamine production during a gaming or gambling addiction is the same as that of an addiction to a substance or a chemical-creating activity such as sex. So, while there are no dangerous biological side effects like there is to substance abuse, the addictive draw of gaming and gambling is equal in strength to any other addiction and causes the same apparent, negative behavioral shifts. For that reason, gaming and gambling addiction should be respected as serious addictions and should be treated with self-help, support groups or addiction treatment.