Should Doctors Treat WoW Addiction?
What if doctors were trained to recognize video game overuse and counsel their patients on moderation… Video game deaths similar to the death of a Korean male who died after playing StarCraft 50 hours straight can be prevented, and should be.
At its 2007 annual meeting, the American Medical Association rejected a proposal to classify video game addiction as a mental disorder in the DSM IV, which is used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental disorders. “There is nothing here to suggest that this is a complex physiological disease state akin to alcoholism or other substance abuse disorders, and it doesn’t get to have the word addiction attached to it,” said Dr. Stuart of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
It is premature to state that there are no physiological mechanisms at play in video game addiction akin to other substance abuse disorders, when video game addiction has not even been rigorously investigated yet. It is obvious that video game addiction, especially WOW, shares much in common in gambling, which is recognized in DSM IV under impulse control disorders. Moreover, dependence-like behaviors have been shown to develop in kids who start playing video games at an early age. Hopefully, the American Psychiatric Association will come to recognize this and include video game addiction in the DSM V which due out in 2012. To learn more about the scientific evidence that examines video game addiction as a possible clinical disorder, visit my post “Is video game addiction a clinical disorder?”.
One of the reasons cited by the AMA for not formulating video game addiction as a diagnosis is that there is a scarcity of scientific studies on the subject. A quick search on Pubmed for “video game addiction” reveals 55 papers written on the subject. By comparison, Pubmed returns more than 65,000 papers. Hopefully by 2012, there will be more scientific data concerning video game addiction than there is now, however given the current state of research on “video game addiction”, this is highly unlikely. Recognizing video game addiction as a mental disorder would go a long way towards promoting more research in this area.
We’ll no doubt begin to see more attention garnered to video game addiction as the gamer generations of the 80’s and 90’s mature to form a substantial population of middle-aged gamers who start seeking healthcare. The medical community is making a huge mistake in ignoring this problem while in its infancy. I believe that in the future, clinicians should start screening patients for video game addiction much in the same way we screen for smoking, drug, and alcohol abuse.
If you agree that the medical community should address the growing problem of video game addiction, please help us make the American Psychiatric Association aware of the breadth of the gaming addiction epidemic and its potential dangers by signing the petition below requesting that video game addiction be included in DSM V.
If you disagree, let us know why below!
Source: Addiction experts say video games not an addiction.