London’s The Evening Post reported that an increasing number of young people in England are seeking treatment for addiction to video games. Young addicts are skipping meals, stealing money from their parents to buy games, and ditching school—all in the name of playing video games. An expert warned that for some teens, playing games for two hours can produce the same high as using cocaine.
Addiction experts say that four out of five children under age 10 and three out of five of those under age 16 play computer and video games at a dangerous level.
Jack, a 15-year-old from Garstang, Lancashire, admitted that gaming addiction took over his life. He neglected his friends and school work, and ate only junk food as he played video games for up to 48 consecutive hours.
“Playing on my games console was all I wanted to do and it was the first thing I thought of as soon as I woke up. I would play for hours on end without even realizing,” Jack told The Evening Post. “It was like it was a demon that had got inside my brain and I just couldn’t stop. If my parents tried to stop me playing, I would just flip. I lost touch with my mates, started doing badly at school, and became an angry and aggressive person that wasn’t the real me.”
Steve Pope, a drug counselor and therapist who lives in Garstang, says he is seeing increasing numbers of young people suffering from gaming addiction.
“A lot of young people get themselves into a situation where they use video games as an escape from the world and they get hooked on the release of adrenaline it gives,” he said.
“Spending two hours on a game station is equivalent to taking a line of cocaine in the high it produces. It is the fastest growing addiction in the country and this is affecting young people mentally, as well as leading to physical problems such as obesity. It gives parents peace and quiet, but it becomes a concern when it is all the child wants to do,” he added.
Pope continued: “I saw one 14-year-old Preston boy who played games for 24 hours non-stop and had not eaten and was showing signs of dehydration. When his parents tried to take his console away, he became aggressive and threatened to jump out of a window.”
Pope says he sees at least two children a week who play video games excessively.