Rehabilitating from games addiction can be harder than de-toxing from substances

27 January 2015

Rehabilitating from games addiction can be harder than de-toxing from substances

In many countries internet games, slot machines, computer games and betting are creating a new addiction problem. Gambling addictions may lead people and families to severe debts and therefore to severe problems. There is a large population of youth who play computer games and miss out on studying, socialising, working and even sleep due to these addictions. Their families feel helpless when they see young person’s life slipping away to a computer world. The challenge is that the world is full of mobile devices that enable access to games. How can somebody with games addition get away from these devices and start the recovery process?

In China they have used a remote military base for taking the youth away from their game addiction. The experience from this centre shows that the young people have created their world inside these games. They know other player names and the interaction is trough the functions of the games. The players have an image of themselves as active social individuals. They also consider themselves as intelligent as they succeed in their games. However, the researchers have noticed that in reality, these game addicts have poor social interaction as they mainly communicate with game characters. It is also shown that their IQ has lowered as a result of their addiction. Skills required to succeed in any game are very one sided and do not feed the intelligence of our brains.

It is very concerning to see that these youngsters had such a strong need to play games that they ran away from the treatment centre to an internet cafe in order to enter their games world. The doctors and psychologist in this treatment programme say that craving for games -or the feeling that games create- is stronger than craving for drugs for those detoxing from heroin.

The Blue Cross societies have special expertises in treating gambling and games addiction. In Finland there is a big clinic and walk in Centre with web based services to treat this addiction. In Poland and in Check Republic new services for gamblers have been developed. The principle of treating gambling and games addictions is the same as in any addiction. Person needs to acknowledge their addiction and the support needs to be provided to enable the cycle of change step by step. The first step is to ask if the player sees that there is a problem with their behaviour. This can already start a new beginning.



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