Video Gaming Disorder Recognized by WHO: Residential Treatment Can Help

Video gaming remains one of the most popular entertainment; the novelty and excitement of video games can be almost overwhelming. Mental health professionals and educational consultants remain concerned about video game overuse and the possibility of a gaming addiction.  Therapy and intervention can help. If severe enough, time spent in a therapeutic boarding school or treatment center can allow the brain to re-set and for the adolescent or young adult to develop better coping skills. The World Health Organization (WHO) in June 2018 declared that video gaming disorder is a mental health condition and listed it in International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The condition is “characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” To be diagnosed, a person must be exhibiting symptoms for 12 months or more and be impaired by them in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. “I think the ICD-11 category will give us a chance to learn how to identify and diagnose the disorder,” says child and adolescent psychiatrist Victor Fornari, MD. Video games and “addiction” or “processing abuse” Like many “addictive” behaviors, gamers may be almost physically unable to stop. Video games present highly attention-grabbing graphics, changes of pace, rewards for achievement and excitement. For this reason, many teens and young adults gravitate toward all kinds of video games, including personal games on cellphones to multiplayer adventure games. “(Video games) tell us more about a brain that may have a problem with impulse control,” says T. Atilla Ceranoglu, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Massachusetts. More than nine hours of video game play in a week is considered heavy use and is also the point where researchers see changes in a child or teen’s behavior. He added that the fast pace of most video games is more attractive to young people affected by ADHD. “It rewards the impulsive streak. What I find is a video game absorbs a kid (in game play) who otherwise can’t maintain attention.” Why the WHO listing is important The WHO listing will help to prompt mental health organizations to evaluate the condition and include it in their own diagnostic manuals. Currently, the American Psychological Association is studying video gaming addiction and had considered adding it to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Future editions may include the condition after continued research. By bringing more of an emphasis to the condition, people and professionals can become better informed. Treatment approaches can be researched and, once recognized, health insurance companies will be able to include it in conditions that are covered by their programs. Why residential treatment works: “Gaming disorder does seem to respond to psychotherapy, and counseling can be quite effective,” says Petros Levounis, an addiction specialist who chairs the department of psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. What [...]

By |2019-10-21T20:19:14+00:00October 16th, 2018|Addiction, Therapy|0 Comments

I know, I know, Media is the new drug…

You’ve heard this right? There are dozens of parenting books on how to limit media. Parenting seminars on internet safety. In the program world, we are finding therapists who specialize in media or internet “addiction” or “disorders.” In fact, there are many clinical studies being done on how screen time affects the teenage brain. Some postulate that there is an increase in the dopamine release after getting a “like” or storming a castle on a screen similar to the addictive quality of other types of drugs or gambling. So, what do we do? I am a parent and step-parent. 5 kids, 4 teenagers. We are the first generation of parents who have had to figure out limits on media? But that is different from the old-fashioned curfews. What kind of media? What limits? What age is good for this or for that? How do I control the internet when the schools are asking the kids to use it for research? My kid is only happy when he/she are playing a team game on the internet – isn’t that socializing? Is is harmful to let my teenager binge-watch 30 Rock? How do you know what apps your child has or what accounts they have on Facebook or Snapchat? Most of them lie about their age. It is confusing and confounding. No one can give you all the answers, but I can give you a true story about the way a family I know has made some changes. It may give you the courage to do the same. It was radical and it was hard. It was painful. But it brought the light back to one 14 year old boy whose eyes had gone dark to reality. “ I want to sell my gaming computer.” What? Stop internet gaming by giving/selling the computer? Take all the gaming apps off of the phone and tablet?  Limit media/screen time to 1 hour a day by using a parenting app or setting a specific time of evening. The, create a safe space for the “hangover” to fade. 14 year-old Billy was a pretty cool kid. Smart. Friendly. Great sense of humor. He also had an internet gaming problem. I won’t call it an addiction, but he did. He found little pleasure in any other aspect of his life. He ran away from the dinner table to go back the “group” who were playing. He talked about his “friends” who were all over the world and who were real people. He got up early, stayed up late, and despite his parents best efforts, he was able to sneak more and more time on the computer. Luckily for Billy, he had a great therapist and curious parents. Also, Billy was, as I mentioned, pretty smart. He began to question his propensity to spend hours on the internet, his smart phone and his anxiety around not knowing when was the next time he’d get to play. After several months of discussing how to limit things, he decided to [...]

By |2019-10-21T20:36:19+00:00March 1st, 2017|Addiction|0 Comments