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Is This a Video Game Addiction?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I have a very important question: Can playing video games be an addiction? I really need your help with this because I know my husband has a problem and he doesn’t even know it.

Let me tell you about my husband’s 24/7 routine. He wakes up around 5:30 in the morning and gets on his video game before PT. After PT, he comes home and showers and plays video games before he goes to work. He leaves for work around 9 a.m. and comes home at 11:30 or noon for lunch. He plays video games until 1:00 or 1:30. He comes home at 4:30 and plays video games until midnight or 1 a.m., and his day starts all over again.

Mind you, he will stop occasionally for something to eat and that’s real brief. Believe me, Ms. Vicki, I don’t even think my husband’s aware that he has three children or remembers their names.

For that matter, he doesn’t know me either. At first, I would feel really awful for complaining. After all, my husband isn’t deployed like so many other soldiers who left wives behind to do everything alone. My husband is here, and he has deployed only once.

We don’t even know each other. We never do anything together as a couple or as a family. I’m alone, and I do everything for the children by myself because he is constantly on his video games.

I feel like he would be better served if he were deployed more instead of having the benefit of staying as the rear detachment and doing nothing but playing videos. His addiction must be causing him problems at work, just as they are causing problems between us.

We don’t even sleep together. And I’m sure you’re wondering about our sex life too, right? It doesn’t exist. I can’t tell you the last time we were sexually intimate. If my memory serves me, it was in May 2012 and even then I had to practically beg him to notice me.

We’ve been married for 12 years, and I don’t think I can take this much longer. I know my marriage is over. I want to approach him about this being an addiction, but I want to know if you think it’s an addiction before I approach him about getting help.

Sincerely,
Video Games = Ruined Marriage

Dear Ruined Marriage,

I’ve been in the company of many professionals who speak about video game addictions. Video game addiction is not acknowledged as a diagnosable condition yet -- despite the severe costs linked with compulsively playing video games.

From your report, your husband could be one of those people who is addicted to video games and here’s why: This habit has caused significant impairment in his marital relationship, affected his relationship with his children, and even caused problems in his social life.

You stated he is basically playing the games 24/7 with the exception of going to work. It appears the problem has existed for longer than a year because you have grown tired of the isolation etc. He is definitely disregarding his family, friends and other social opportunities.

It may be helpful if you understand the appeal of playing video games. I’ve heard servicemembers say playing is relaxing and relieves stress, and it’s exciting too. Moreover, it can be an outlet for socially shy or introverted people who prefer to be alone and not with others. But the condition you describe is much more than a pleasant activity.

Treatment options may be similar to treating other addictions. This would include an overall physical to rule out other medical conditions, group and individual support, professional counseling and even medication etc.

I’m concerned about your husband but I’m concerned about you, too, especially since you are thinking about leaving your marriage. Here are some things I suggest you do that may help you in the long run.

  • Solicit the help of a therapist who can provide support.
  • Find social outlets for you and for your children. Its sounds like you are consumed with monitoring your husband’s habits so much that you are in isolation and missing opportunities to connect socially with others.
  • It always helps to reach out for support of trusted family members and friends who can provide insight and a shoulder to lean on.

I wish I could offer more, but keep in touch and let me know what you decide to do.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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