In February of this year, Brian Vigneault, a 35-year-old Virginia Beach man, died of a Fentanyl overdose while playing a marathon session of a game called “World of Tanks.” The game was live streaming on Twitch and Vigneault, who went by the online moniker of “PoShYbRiD,” had more than 9,000 followers. Now that the medical examiner has ruled Vigneault’s death a Fentanyl overdose, the possible link between gaming addiction and drug abuse is gaining more attention.

Other Deaths Related to Gaming

Vigneault’s circumstances may sound unique, but this has been seen before. In 2016, a 32-year-old man in Taiwan died after a 3-day gaming marathon. The cause of death was found to be cardiac failure. In China, a 24-year-old man died after playing World of Warcraft for 19 hours straight.  As these were foreign deaths, the presence or absence of drugs in these deaths remains a mystery.

The Dangers of Fentanyl Use

Fentanyl is a man-made opioid that is causing an increased rate of death and destruction in the United States. The drug was previously known as a powerful prescription pain reliever and generally something that you would only access while in a hospital or hospice care. Now, fentanyl has hit the streets and is up to 100 times stronger than either heroin or morphine. Just a small dose of fentanyl can be deadly, and overdose deaths are rising nationwide from this drug.

gaming addiction and drug abuse

The Link Between Gaming Addiction and Drug Abuse

While it might not seem that there is a link between gaming addiction and drug abuse, it turns out that there could be a connection. Yale University published a study in 2011 that found some health risks linked to problematic gaming. The study looked at the gaming habits of adolescents. Most had no negative health consequences from gaming, but there were a few exceptions. About 4.9 percent of those surveyed reported that they had difficulty cutting back on their gaming. It was this group that also linked problematic gaming to drug use, cigarette smoking, fights, and depression.

A study published in the journal “Comprehensive Psychiatry” in 2011 also links gaming to drug use and alcohol addiction. The study found that the area of the brain that regulates the desire to play video games also deals with drug and alcohol addiction. Both drug use and gaming release dopamine in the brain, which is a feel-good chemical. Opioids are the drug that is known for releasing the highest levels of dopamine in the brain.

Seeking Help at a Drug Abuse Treatment Center

A person can fall victim to many kinds of addiction, and there is evidence to suggest that if someone is addicted to one thing, he or she is more likely to become addicted to another. That means that if a person is susceptible to a gaming addiction, he or she is just as likely to be vulnerable to a drug and alcohol addiction.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, The Recovery Village can help with its comprehensive addiction treatment program. Our center will develop a thorough treatment program that addresses all addiction issues including mental health, any dual diagnosis, as well as eating disorders. Contact us today to learn more about our addiction treatment program or to discuss admissions options.

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