When daddling on the computer becomes more important than friends, work, or even sleep, then doctors talk about an addiction. The WHO now includes the gambling addiction in their directory.
More than 34 million Germans play computer and video games, estimates the Association of the German games industry. Only a tiny fraction – less than one percent – play excessively. But when does playing become a pathological addiction?
Bettina Borisch from the Institute for Global Health at the University of Geneva says doctors all over the world have always been faced with a challenge in diagnosing online gambling: One has to find out when the addiction to play computer is morbid. For that you need very clear criteria. In order to apply these criteria everywhere, they would have to be global, they would have to come from the World Health Organization (WHO).
When everything is subordinated to playing
For the WHO, the problem begins when a person subordinates all other aspects of life to playing for more than a year. If he neglects friends and family, in school, in education or in the job, the performance decreases or even affects the play on sleeping and nutrition.
For some time now, the 194 member states of the WHO have been discussing adding computer and online gambling addiction to the worldwide catalog of health disorders. The revised list will be adopted at the current World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva. The computer gambling addiction is recognized for the first time as a separate disease.
To deal with the consequences of addiction
Already last year, WHO expert Vladimir Poznyak said: „The main reason for this is not only the scientific evidence available, but also the need for treatment and the doctors‘ demand for recognition,“ explains Poznyak. Doctors hoped that research would be stepped up, that preventive measures could be taken, and that more attention be paid to the health effects of this addiction.
About 560,000 Germans are internet dependent. Part of them are gamers who have trouble controlling their game. For them and their relatives, the recognition of the disease is a helpful step, says the Drug Commissioner of the Federal Government, Marlene Mortler.
Spahn: Health insurance companies pay for treatment
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn assumes that much is changing for the treatment of addicts now: If the online gambling addiction is in an official, international directory of diseases, then that would automatically mean that a corresponding treatment in Germany is possible, so Spahn. And that this disease would be financed by the statutory health insurance funds, that people could be helped directly.
But do not demonize online games in general
The inclusion of video and online gambling addiction in the worldwide disease catalog was not uncontroversial. So the gaming industry feared that people who play a lot could suddenly be classified as in need of therapy. And even health experts warn against demonizing the online games in principle. Players could also learn a lot – such as strategic thinking or teamwork.