Video game addiction: Cured with Naltexone
Video game addiction and technology addiction has become the most concerning addiction epidemic in decades. Video game addiction continues to consume kids and young adults to the point they are disconnected from the real-world. Parents continue to be frustrated yet often have no successful way of helping their kids. These video game addictions and technology addictions represent gateway behaviors into further addiction and overall loss of function in society. With further social withdrawal comes the inability to form healthy relationships which are the cornerstones to love, friendship and success in the work-place. As these young kids turn into adults with this inability to function, they become more withdrawn and ultimately may turn to other addictions to cope with the emotional pain. The cycle is vicious and there is often severe resistance from the kids to get help.
Fortunately there is a new and innovative approach to curing video game addiction which is the utilization of a medication called Naltrexone. Naltrexone has been around since the early 1980’s and its purpose is to block opiate drugs from binding to receptors in the brain. While this was its initial purpose, it is now being used in new ways and one of the exciting ways is in combatting video game addiction. Naltrexone essentially blocks our own endorphins and the dopamine release involved in the reward circuitry in our brain. Addiction involves an intense activation of this very circuitry which causes one to be intensely conditioned to enjoy and ultimately “need” more of the behavior. In the cause of video game addiction, kids strengthen this potent brain circuit from a very early age and ultimately it becomes nearly impossible to stop.
While traditional therapy is often necessary, it is sometimes impossible to break the conditioned addiction behavior even if the child wants to change their life. Often times a child does not think there is a problem and does not even want help. Fortunately Naltrexone works on the neurobiology of the brain and therefore will override and reverse this learned behavior and potent addiction.
The medication is given about 1 hour prior to the child playing their normal video games. The medication blocks the intense reaction in the pleasure center during gaming and naturally over-time, without one realizing it, they naturally lose interest and lose the intense need to game. Coupled with appropriate direction from a therapist or educated parent, a child can be “weaned” off of video games very easily and their energy can be focused on more healthy behaviors.
This is a novel approach and an exciting method to finally helping parents struggling with their technology consumed teens.
Michael Yasinski MD
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