Researchers at the University of Adelaide (Australia) are shedding light on the unique problems of supposed "gaming addiction," saying that there is "strong evidence" to suggest that new treatments should be developed for these conditions. One of the biggest problems researchers face is that both Internet and gaming addictions are not recognized globally by mental health professionals as "real addictions." Gambling and sex addictions, for example, are recognized and treatable conditions.
The research conducted by Associate Professor Paul Delfabbro and Dr. Daniel King in the University's School of Psychology investigated gaps in the current knowledge of internet and video gaming addiction, and the effectiveness of treatments used.
Their latest paper, published this month in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, claims to show that outcomes of treatments for internet gaming disorder are poorly measured and understood, and there's often little or no follow up for longer term treatment.
"There is a lack of understanding generally at both a clinical and a research level about what thought processes an addicted gamer is going through," says Associate Professor Delfabbro.
"Our research has already explored a range of thought processes that gamers experience, but much more work is needed. By better understanding the unique elements of gaming, the cognitive responses of addicted gamers, and the long-term implications of treatment, it's our hope that we can improve outcomes for people suffering this addiction," he says.
Associate Professor Delfabbro adds that the research has implications for the use of a common therapy used to treat addiction, known as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy addresses people's "emotions, behavior and cognitive processes through a series of goal-oriented, systematic procedures."
"In practices right around the world, cognitive-behavioral therapy has become widely promoted and accepted as the best approach for treating internet and video game addiction, without really understanding whether or not it will be effective in these cases," Associate Professor Delfabbro says.
"We know that CBT has some use for treating gambling addiction, but gamers aren't like gamblers. For a start, the games involve skill, whereas most CBT for gamblers focuses on addressing mistaken beliefs about chance and randomness. It's also very hard to provide this as an effective therapy when the underlying thought processes of gamers are not well understood."
Associate Professor Delfabbro concludes that many people who suffer from this unrecognized addiction use gaming as an alternative to reality.
"Within the gaming culture are people who have trouble developing relationships in the real world and often prioritizing their activities. This is in stark contrast to their abilities to make decisions and to achieve in a virtual environment. In some instances, both their sense of identity and their sense of purpose are tied in with the goals of an internet game or video game. Some gamers may identify more closely with their virtual character or avatar than they do to people in the real world."
It should be strongly noted again that Internet and gaming addictions are not recognized as real addictions like drugs, alcohol, sex, and gambling by medical professionals around the world.
Source: Medical Xpress