Gaming Addiction is Real: Now What?


The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced they are recognizing gaming addiction as a disease.   What does this mean?   From a clinical perspective it means that gaming addiction is now on par (at least by WHO) with all other addictions, and should be treated as such.

Don't rush out to the nearest addiction treatment center and expect to be welcomed with open arms.   In the US, until a disease is listed in the DSM, the psychiatric bible, insurance companies most likely won't cover treatment.  There are only a few inpatient facilities in the entire country that address this issue.

But for those whom gaming has taken control of their lives, and for friends and family members who have watched loved ones become totally consumed with gaming, there's more hope because of the WHO announcement.

Sometimes it takes official organizations awhile to catch on to what those on ground zero of gaming addiction already understand.  It is an addiction in every sense.   

The simplest definition of addiction is "continuing the behavior despite the knowledge of harmful consequences."   What does that mean for a person addicted to gaming?  It means not going to work (and the financial consequences) or not looking for work, or not going to classes and suffering those consequences.   It may mean missing out on important family events.  Individuals who spend hours gaming often do so late into the night which means they sleep during the day.  They don't eat healthy and they are prone to using substances to help prolong a gaming session.

Fortunately treatment for gaming addiction involves the same kinds of treatment used in helping those addicted to substances or other behaviors.   Cognitive therapy, mindfulness and support groups can help individuals regain their life.   Including family members in the treatment process is vital for long term success.   A full assessment is required to determine if other mental health issues or addictions are playing a role in addictive gaming.

If you or someone you know appears to have a gaming problem find a mental health provider (addiction counselor, therapist, or psychologist) who understands that gaming addiction is real.  Then the healing can begin.