Recently the World Health Organisation (WHO) has finally agreed to classify gaming addiction as a mental health disorder in its International Classification of Diseases. Rehab 4 Addiction has campaigned for gaming disorder to be officially recognised as such for many years, and we are delighted by this positive development.
This recognition by the WHO has resulted in the NHS agreeing to fund gaming disorder treatment at a well-known London clinic. It is believed that those affected by gaming addiction will travel across the United Kingdom in order to benefit from this unique service.
This clinic will be run by Central and North West London NHS foundation trust. Initially, the centre will focus solely on assisting people affected by gaming disorders. However, the centre also plans to extend its services to other internet-related addictions, such as porn addiction.
The addiction centre will also house a research facility in order to further understanding of gaming and internet-related disorders.
Gaming disorder is an issue that affects hundreds of thousands of people. Personally, I witnessed gaming disorder contribute to my sibling’s divorce. Also, at least two of my former colleagues failed to meet their career goals due to sleep deprivation caused by gaming disorder. Thus, I am truly happy to see that gaming disorder is getting the recognition it deserves.
The harm caused by gaming disorder is very real. My sibling’s ex-partner lost at least three jobs because of his gaming disorder, and my sibling almost lost her home as a result. I feel the NHS has a moral duty to help prevent these tragedies by offering evidence-based treatments to those affected by this terrible disorder.
It is believed that the range of treatments offered at this London-clinic will offer a life-changing opportunity to those affected by gaming disorder.
Currently, gaming disorder treatment is only available via private hospitals meaning this treatment is inaccessible to the vast majority of people suffering from gaming disorder.
It’s believed NHS-funding will cover weekly therapy groups sessions for those affected by gaming addiction. It is unclear when this service will become available since some final hurdles must still be cleared.
The clinic’s founder, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, said: ‘This is the first step, but the Centre for Internet Disorders will deal with other internet compulsions, if and when needed when funding is available. If we end up with 20 people or 30 wanting to be treated for porn addiction, for example … if we have got the funding for that then we could provide help’.
It is believed gaming disorder is being prioritised at this early stage over other forms of Internet-addiction because gaming addiction disproportionately affects children and young adults at a crucial stage of their development.
Gaming disorder is defined by the WHO as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests”.
Those affected by gaming disorder lack control to moderate the amount of time they spend on games. This means these people will play computer games throughout the night and thus lose out on sleep. Sleep deprivation is thus one of the main symptoms of gaming disorder.
Gaming disorder also prevents sufferers from fulfilling basic responsibilities. In severe cases, those affected by gaming disorder are even known to suffer from a form of incontinence due to their inability to stop gaming in order to go to the toilet.
Experts believe the UK-Government has been slow to make cash available to deal with the problem. Many countries around the world have funded treatment for gaming disorder for many years, and thus the UK has been slow to react to this very real problem.
“Other countries have free services, for example, there are some in Asia. We are really behind. I am not sure how it took us so long. Maybe it’s because we had no champion and I will identify as that champion. You just need one person in the right place at the right time,” Bowden-Jones said.
Some therapists have opposed the idea of recognising ‘gaming disorders’. One of these therapists in opposition is Antony Bean from Fort Worth in Texas. Bean opposes the concept because he believes the concept of a gaming disorder suggests that there could be no other reason why a person is seeking mental health treatment.
Interestingly, Bean believes a ‘pigeonhole tactic’ could lead to misdiagnosis of underlying causes of gaming disorder.
Rehab 4 Addiction is a free helpline set up to assist those affected by addiction and their family members. If you would like to learn more about treatment options relating to gaming disorder, contact our free helpline today on 0800 140 4690.