Last year, the World Health Organization declared video game addiction to be one of its recognized diseases. However, the problem is that even WHO declaration basically amounts to only the recognition of something.
But we still do not know what exactly the reasons or factors are. We do know that some cases have certainly been tragic. And some parents are worried sick that a simple activity like gaming could cause serious issues.
Some say that loot boxes are a factor although EA would disagree. Anyways, now it seems like a potential treatment for it.
A new study has been published by researchers in Germany that they claim shows potential for treating video game addiction. The research boasts a recovery rate of 70% and no psychedelic drugs utilized. According to the researchers, the therapy is focused on changing the relationship between gamers and games instead of finishing it altogether.
The research was conducted from 2012 to 2017 in four outpatient clinics in Germany and Austria. The sample size was 143 men who were randomly divided into two groups—72 who’d receive treatment and 71 who would act as the control. The researchers then used a modified form of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) that consisted of 15 weekly group sessions and up to eight two-week one-on-one sessions.
“It is important to emphasize that it does not automatically mean you are addicted if you are keen on playing computer games,” Müller, one of the authors of the study, said. “It is important to keep in mind that only a minority is developing an addictive behavior toward gaming and other internet activities. On the same hand, it is equally important to take these patients seriously and to accept that they are suffering and in need of help. Anything else would be mere ignorance.”
Talking about how the therapy wasn’t focused on stopping the patients from playing games.
“Our major aim is not to have the patients away from any screen but rather to enable them [to control] their behavior,” Müller said, though people in the study started with a six week “partial abstinence” from computer games and the internet.
To exclude random factors, the research wasn’t conducted with subjects who were using psychiatric drugs. According to Müller, people with a misuse disorder that isn’t substance-related don’t respond well to pharmacological treatment, in his experience. Instead, the researchers used CBT—a form of talk therapy that tasks patients with analyzing and adjusting their own thoughts.
“It usually starts with a thorough inventory of the patient’s characteristics that are contributing to the development and maintenance of the gaming disorder,” Müller said. The researchers started by educating the patients on the mechanism and effects of video game addiction. Patients kept a personal diary of the triggers that caused them to play games, often focusing on how they felt just before a marathon session, then learned how to take that energy and redirect it.
“In a third step, modification of the relevant characteristics is the crucial aim of the intervention,” Müller said. “This can, for instance, be enhancing the patient’s resilience towards stressful events, or his or her social skills, understanding of his or her emotional responses and simultaneously developing alternative explanations and reactions.”
The study isn’t perfect though. It had no females. Müller said this reflected the clinic’s typical clientele. “While recent epidemiological surveys have shown almost no sex differences regarding the prevalence of [internet addiction,] female patients with [internet addiction] are seldom represented in the help system. Therefore, further clinical trials are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of [the treatment] in females.”
Müller knows about the blindspot and said women do get help for gaming and other misuse disorders, but noted that they often don’t seek treatment at rehab clinics.
“Women suffering from internet-related disorders indeed do not find their way into the specific, addiction-related, health care system but rather seem to seek other therapeutic help because of other comorbid disorders that are perceived as the main problem,” he said. “We are currently investigating this phenomenon in a different research project.”