Video Game Addiction in Adults: How Common Is It?

Mar 16, 2024

In a world where digital entertainment is more accessible than ever, video games stand out as a leading form of leisure and escape for many. With advancements in technology and the increase in gaming platforms, adults are finding themselves more and more immersed in virtual worlds. 

But when does this pastime cross the line into addiction? Video game addiction in adults is gaining attention from mental health professionals and researchers alike, as they seek to understand its impact and prevalence within our society.

Interestingly, the average video game player in the United States is 32 years old and has been engaged in this digital pastime for 21 years. This statistic not only shatters the stereotype of video gaming as a predominantly youthful hobby but also signals a significant portion of the adult population potentially at risk for addiction. 

Video Game Addiction Defined

Video game addiction, also known as gaming disorder, is defined by the compulsive use of video games to the extent that it interferes with an individual's daily life. Recognized by the World Health Organization as a mental health condition, this addiction mirrors patterns seen in other addictive behaviors, manifesting through an inability to control gaming habits, prioritizing gaming over other interests and daily activities, and continuing the behavior despite clear negative consequences.

The condition transcends age barriers, affecting not just younger demographics but adults as well. While a quarter of American players are under 18 (26%), a significant 35% fall within the 18-34 age bracket, 14% are aged 35-44, 11% are between 45-54, and 14% are 55 or older. These statistics highlight the widespread appeal of video games among adults, suggesting that the potential for addiction is not limited to younger individuals.

Why Gaming Appeals to Adults

The appeal of video gaming for adults can be attributed to various factors. For many, video games offer an escape from the stresses and mundanity of everyday life. They provide a virtual realm where achievements are tangible, and progress is measurable, offering a sense of accomplishment that might be lacking in other areas of life.

Furthermore, multiplayer games and online communities offer adults a platform for social interaction and connection, which can be particularly appealing for those who may feel isolated or disconnected in their physical environments.

However, the accessibility and appeal of video games can sometimes lead to excessive use, turning a leisure activity into a potential source of addiction. With a significant portion of the adult population engaged in gaming, understanding the appeal and potential risks associated with video games is essential.

How Video Game Addiction is Diagnosed

The diagnosis of video game addiction, or Internet Gaming Disorder, follows specific criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). For Internet Gaming Disorder, the DSM-5 suggests that an individual must exhibit at least five out of nine core symptoms over a 12-month period to warrant a diagnosis. 

Key criteria include:

  • Inability to Control Gaming Habits: Persistent or recurrent inability to control the onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, or context of gaming.

  • Increasing Priority Given to Gaming: The need to spend increasing amounts of time engaged in video games to achieve satisfaction and a tendency to prioritize gaming over other life interests and daily activities.

  • Continuation Despite Negative Consequences: Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences, such as deteriorating relationships, decreased performance at work or school, or physical health issues related to sedentary lifestyle.

It is important for the diagnosis to distinguish between high engagement in gaming, which does not necessarily require intervention, and gaming disorder, which warrants professional treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Gaming and Internet Addiction in Adults

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of gaming and internet addiction in adults is the first step towards seeking help. These signs often manifest subtly and may be mistaken for harmless enthusiasm for gaming. However, when these behaviors persist and negatively impact an individual's life, they may indicate a deeper problem:

  • Preoccupation with Video Games: Spending excessive amounts of time thinking about video games, even when not playing.

  • Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms When Not Playing: Feeling irritable, anxious, or upset when unable to play.

  • The Need to Spend Increasing Amounts of Time Playing Video Games: Needing to dedicate more time to gaming to achieve satisfaction or excitement.

  • Failed Attempts to Control Participation in Video Games: Repeatedly trying and failing to reduce or control gaming behavior.

  • Loss of Interest in Previous Hobbies and Entertainment: Giving up other activities in favor of gaming.

  • Continuation Despite Knowledge of Psychosocial Problems: Persisting in gaming even when aware of negative consequences and social or personal problems.

  • Deceiving Family Members, Therapists, or Others Regarding the Amount of Gaming: Lying about the extent of involvement with video games.

  • Using Video Games to Escape or Relieve Negative Feelings: Engaging in gaming to avoid dealing with problems or to relieve negative emotions.

  • Risking or Losing Significant Relationships, Jobs, or Educational or Career Opportunities Because of Gaming: Experiencing significant personal losses due to gaming habits.

Identifying these signs in oneself or a loved one can be challenging, but acknowledgment is a critical step towards recovery. If these symptoms are present and causing significant impairment in daily functioning, it may be time to seek professional advice from an addiction specialist.

Treatment for Video Game Addiction

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for video game addiction in adults; instead, effective recovery strategies incorporate a combination of therapies, support systems, and lifestyle adjustments. Here are the primary treatment options for video game addiction:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a widely used treatment method for various types of addiction, including video game addiction. It focuses on identifying and challenging the negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with gaming addiction, developing healthier coping mechanisms, and setting achievable goals to reduce gaming time.

  • Family Therapy: Since family dynamics often play a big role in the development and perpetuation of addictive behaviors, involving family members in the treatment process can be beneficial. Family therapy helps to improve communication, address underlying issues, and establish a supportive home environment.

  • Individual Counseling: One-on-one sessions with a mental health professional can provide personalized support and guidance through the recovery process. Counseling can help individuals understand the root causes of their addiction, develop self-esteem, and learn strategies to manage urges and maintain balance.

  • Support Groups: Joining support groups, such as Online Gamers Anonymous or other addiction-focused groups, can offer a sense of community and understanding. Sharing experiences and strategies with others facing similar challenges can be incredibly supportive and encouraging.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Incorporating healthy lifestyle changes is important for recovery. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and engaging in hobbies and activities outside of gaming can help reduce the reliance on video games for fulfillment.

  • Digital Detox and Time Management: Taking a break from digital devices and setting strict limits on gaming time can help individuals regain control over their gaming habits. Tools like software that limits access to games or monitors usage can be helpful in maintaining these boundaries.

  • Mindfulness and Stress Management Techniques: Learning and practicing mindfulness, meditation, and stress management techniques can help individuals cope with the urges to game excessively. These techniques promote mental clarity, emotional regulation, and a greater sense of presence.

It's important to recognize that recovery from video game addiction is a journey, often requiring a combination of treatments and adjustments. Seeking professional help and support from loved ones can make a significant difference in overcoming addiction. Each individual's path to recovery will be unique, but with the right support and resources, finding balance and regaining control over gaming habits is entirely possible.


Video Games Remain America’s Favorite Pastime With More Than 212 Million Americans Playing Regularly - Entertainment Software Association 

Addictive behaviours: Gaming disorder - World Health Organization 

Internet Gaming - American Psychiatric Association 

Video Games Remain America’s Favorite Pastime With More Than 212 Million Americans Playing Regularly - Business Wire 

Managing Gambling Addiction Relapses

Apr 12, 2024


U.S. Sports Betting Statistics April 2024: Legalization, growth & addiction rising

Apr 12, 2024


My Mom Has a Gambling Addiction: What to Do

Apr 8, 2024


Understanding In-Network and Out-of-Network Providers for Behavioral Addictions

Apr 1, 2024


Has America become a “society of gamblers”?

Mar 28, 2024


How Can I Stop My Child From Gambling

Mar 27, 2024


Birches Health Partners with BettorEdge

Mar 20, 2024


Birches Health Announces Partnership with SaharaBets

Mar 19, 2024


Gambling Addiction Rates Hit All-Time High in U.S.

Mar 13, 2024


Signs of Teen Gambling

Mar 13, 2024


Free Gambling Addiction Treatment

Feb 29, 2024


SNL Sports Betting sketch spotlights real Gambling Addiction issues 

Feb 26, 2024


New U.S. Gambling Stats: Record figures as Addiction also grows

Feb 22, 2024


What will be the social costs of increased gambling? Who will pay them?

Feb 19, 2024


Is it Legal to Bet on the Daytona 500?

Feb 16, 2024


Media Takes Note of America's Increase in Problem Gambling

Feb 15, 2024


What are the Psychological Effects of Gambling?

Jan 31, 2024


Is Day Trading Gambling?

Feb 11, 2024


What are the Different Types of Gamblers?

Feb 12, 2024


Understanding Behavior Disorders

Jan 23, 2024


The Gambling Addiction Recovery, Investment, And Treatment (GRIT) Act

Jan 14, 2024


What is the Cycle of Addiction and How to Break It

Jan 9, 2024


I Lost All My Money Gambling. What Now?

Dec 29, 2023


Your 2024 New Year's Resolution: Stop Sports Betting and Online Gambling

Dec 24, 2023


Why Do Addicts Relapse?

Dec 20, 2023


Is Gambling a Sin?

Dec 18, 2023


Staging a Gambling Intervention for a Loved One

Dec 13, 2023


Signs of Gambling Addiction in a Spouse

Nov 30, 2023


Gambling and Divorce: Statistics and Information

Nov 26, 2023


What is DFS Gambling?

Nov 19, 2023


Addiction Specialist: Helping You Overcome Addiction

Nov 18, 2023


Exploring the Different Types of Gambling

Nov 8, 2023


Technology Addiction: Signs and Treatment

Oct 30, 2023


Is Options Trading Gambling?

Oct 23, 2023


Gambling Addiction and Treatment

Oct 16, 2023


Sex Addiction Treatment and Therapy Options

Oct 14, 2023


Signs of Gambling Addiction

Oct 7, 2023


Is the Stock Market Gambling?

Sep 25, 2023


Tips for Finding a Gambling Rehab Center

Sep 24, 2023


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Pathological Gambling

Sep 23, 2023


What Causes Porn Addiction?

Sep 18, 2023


Video Game Addiction

Sep 16, 2023


Porn Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Sep 11, 2023


Gambling Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms & Signs

Aug 29, 2023


How to Stop Online Gambling

Aug 27, 2023


Does Medicare Cover Gambling Rehab?

Aug 19, 2023


Gambling and Dopamine

Aug 12, 2023


Porn Addiction Counseling

Aug 7, 2023


Is Fantasy Football Gambling?

Jul 24, 2023


Signs of a Day Trading Problem

Jul 19, 2023


Why is Gambling Addictive?

Jul 18, 2023


The Arizona Lottery and Gambling

Jul 16, 2023


Is Poker Gambling?

Jul 15, 2023


Is Crypto Gambling?

Jul 14, 2023


Gambling and Sports Betting Among College Students

Jul 8, 2023


Updates made to gambling disorder across the DSM-III, DSM-IV, DSM-5

Updates Made to Gambling Disorder Clinical Criteria Between DSM-III, DSM-IV, and DSM-5

Jul 8, 2023

Cara Anderson

Combatting Gambling and Alcohol Addiction

Jun 30, 2023


Medication for Gambling Addiction

Jun 27, 2023


The Seven Types of Gamblers: Are You One of Them?

Jun 25, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

10 Questions to Ask If You Think Your Loved One Has a Gambling Problem

Jun 24, 2023

Cara Anderson

Las Vegas - often called the gambling capital of the world

Exploring the History of Gambling in the US

Jun 17, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Gambling Treatment in Arizona

Jun 15, 2023


Voluntary Self Exclusion to Stop Online Gambling

Jun 15, 2023

Cara Anderson

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Gambling Treatment?

Jun 13, 2023


Gambling Addiction Hotline

Jun 5, 2023


How to Stop Gambling

Jun 1, 2023


Can Gambling Addiction Be Cured?

May 31, 2023


problem gambler worried about addiction

Why Is Gambling So Addictive?

May 30, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Medication that can cause gambling

Abilify and Compulsive Gambling

May 26, 2023

Cara Anderson

A man who has regained control of his life by stopping gambling and online sports betting

How to Stop Gambling: Strategies for Regaining Control

May 21, 2023

Cara Anderson

This man stopped gambling by recognizing his online sports betting problem

How to Stop Gambling and Save Money

May 18, 2023

Cara Anderson

People celebrating being free of a gambling addiction

How to Help Someone with a Gambling Addiction

May 16, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

The Growing Phenomenon of Cryptocurrency Addiction: What Traders Need to Know About Crypto Addiction

Cryptocurrency Addiction

May 9, 2023

Tobias Jackson

The stock market graph of a day trader who has a day trading addiction

How Day Trading Can Create a Dangerous Addiction

May 4, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Younger individuals gathered around a computer talking about a gambling addiction meme

How Addictive Memes Have Fueled Problem Gamblers

May 2, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Man in the middle of taking a Do I have a Gambling Problem Quiz

Clinical Screening Tools and Quizzes to Answer the Question: "Do I have a Gambling Problem?"

May 1, 2023

Tobias Jackson

Insurance paperwork that Birches clients do not need to go through as Birches Health handles all administrative and payment matters for them!

Insurance Coverage for Gambling Addiction in 2023

Apr 29, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Couple hugging as the man has a gambling addiction and the woman, his loved one, is able to support him through it.

Helping a Loved One with a Gambling Addiction

Apr 27, 2023

Cara Anderson

Man actualizing self care and manifesting his recovery journey from problem gambling and gambling addiction

Self Care for Problem Gamblers

Apr 26, 2023

Cara Anderson

Bad effects of glamorization of gambling in the media in films, tv shows, and podcasts

Glamorized Gambling and What To Be Aware Of

Apr 24, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Therapist offering a problem gambler gambling addiction counseling and treatment

What is Problem Gambling?

Apr 20, 2023

Elliott Rapaport