Tag Archives: gambling

WHO Adds Gaming Disorder to the ICD

gaming disorder

The World Health Organization’s (WHO)11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), released Monday June 18, 2018, includes "gaming disorder." The addition of “digital-gaming” or “video-gaming” addiction to the ICD as a new mental health condition probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise for most people; especially considering just how far the industry has come since the advent of games like pong and how many people are spending multiple hours a day “leveling-up.”

Once video games found their way into people’s households with Atari, followed then by the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), it was clear that the sky was the limit. Today, the myriad of games and various types of games is unbelievable; and, the emergence of online gaming allows users the ability to play endless games endlessly. Yes, that’s right, there isn’t a finish line or final stage in the most popular titles people are engaging with; ostensibly, an individual can play ad infinitum. Even if someone manages to find the end of a particular maze, game developers will promptly release a patch expanding the border of the playable realm.

Not long ago there were limits on how far a person could go in a game and the amount of money they could spend. Take a game like Super Mario Brothers for instance; people bought the game and played it and there was a final stage with a boss to be vanquished. Upon beating the boss that was all she wrote! Sure, you could play the game again, but you were not going to spend more than your initial purchase. Conversely, the games people play today, regardless of the gaming system (i.e., PlayStation, XBOX, or PC), offer players downloadable content(DLC); attaching credit card numbers to "Gamertags" allows users to buy DLC to give their character an edge or a custom look.

How Many People Play Video Games?

It’s safe to say that there was a time that the majority of people playing video games in the early day were young males. While young men continue to make up the market share of gamers, a good many females play regularly. There was, and still is, a number of stereotypes that people attach to gamers, social recluses, and nerds to name a few; however, as the technology gets better and more take part, it becomes difficult to blanket label the types of people who game. The result: gaming becomes normalized; a significant number of celebrities fancy “first-person shooters” or racing games. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with digital-gaming, to be sure.

When we talk about gaming, we would be remiss if we fail to point out that smartphones open up a whole new market. App games like Candy Crush eat up a significant amount of time of millions of people each day; even though they lack some of the bells and whistles video game systems boast, apps are quite captivating and allow people to play-on-the-run.

The annual Global Games Market Report shows that there are 2.2 billion active gamers in the world in 2017; of which, 1.0 billion players (47%) spend money while playing and generated $108.9 billion in game revenues. People pay to play smartphone games which produced revenue of $46.1 billion in 2017, claiming 42% of the market. The above figures make clear that an unbelievably significant number of people are not only gaming, but they are also spending money to play after the initial purchase. It is also safe to contend that some individuals are spending money they don’t have to continue to chase after an in-game item, often called “loot,” the acquisition of said item elicits a particular feeling. Sound familiar?

What is Gaming Disorder?

WHO’s website defines “Gaming Disorder” as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

Preëexisting Mental Health Conditions

There is still much to learn about the dangers of devoting increasing amounts of time to offline and online gaming. However, the available research shows stark similarities between problematic gaming and other forms of addiction. Researchers who had a hand in the World Health Organization's landmark decision to include gaming disorder to its list of mental health diseases write, “Gaming disorder shares many features with addictions due to psychoactive substances and with gambling disorder, and functional neuroimaging shows that similar areas of the brain are activated.”

You probably would have guessed that there are critics of WHO’s decision to include gaming disorder to the ICD. Some opponents are working for the industry, so we all should meet their opinions with some skepticism; however, Dr. Netta Weinstein, a senior lecturer in psychology at Cardiff University, tells The Guardian, “I just feel like we don’t know enough yet.”

Weinstein points out that only a statistically small number (nearly half that of gambling disorder) of gamers experience adverse symptoms that affect their lives. A big concern of hers is about comorbidity, having more than one mental health condition. In the field of addiction medicine, more times than not, people presenting symptoms of addiction also meet the criteria for a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression, PTSD, or bipolar disorder. In many cases, mental illnesses like depression often give rise to addiction via the process of self-medication. Could it be that people are excessively gaming to the point of disorder, in order to cope with a preëxisting mental health condition? Weinstein says:

We need to know that it is about the gaming [gaming disorder] itself, or we’re treating something that’s not the actual problem.”

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you or a loved is struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder and any one of many mental health diseases, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We offer clients gender-specific, extended care treatment for males in the grips of progressive mental health disorders.

If you have suicidal ideations, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Problem Gambling Screening is the Focus of PGAM

problem gambling

Alcohol and substance use disorder are what most people think of when they hear the word “addiction,” and for a good reason—left untreated, they are deadly mental health conditions. The national conversation about addiction, these days, almost always leads to opioids and the ever-growing number of overdose deaths in the U.S. While it is vital that we keep our focus on finding solutions to the American opioid addiction epidemic, it’s paramount we do not lose sight of the big picture. There are a plethora of mental health conditions plaguing Americans; even if individual disorders do not carry the risk of overdose, they can indirectly contribute to premature death; people living with untreated mental illness stand to lose everything if they don’t get help. Such is the case for problem gambling, otherwise known as compulsive gambling.

At PACE, we understand that the complexities of non-substance-related addiction, i.e., eating disorders, sex, shopping, and gambling. Arguably, disorders not involving drugs and alcohol can persist unnoticed far longer than substance abuse disorders. Despite being manifestations of psychological turmoil, it’s difficult for doctors to screen patients for conditions like problem gambling. When a person sees a physician complaining of back pain, it’s unlikely that the caregiver will inquire about how the chips are falling these days. However, primary care doctors can play a role in helping some of the over ten million pathological gamblers in America.

Problem Gambling Signs and Symptoms

People might contend that it’s not a doctor’s place to ask about behaviors that, on the surface, do not bring about physical harm. One could argue that patients have the right to spend their hard-earned cash any way they like, whether it be shopping or at a craps table in a smoke-filled casino. Nevertheless, while non-substance addictive behaviors appear relatively harmless, they most certainly have the power to disrupt and destroy peoples’ lives.

Any practice that persists despite negatively impacting one’s life is concerning. Your average adult can go to a casino for a few hours—win a little or lose a little—and then go home thinking little of their experience ever again. Others may occasionally buy a scratch ticket or Powerball ticket, fully expecting that they just wasted some money for the fun of it; in both examples, such individuals have no illusions about hitting the jackpot. Unfortunately, for many Americans, casinos and the Lotto are not some frivolous activity. What’s more, the costs of gambling can significantly exceed what is lost at the card table.

As with any behavior, the line between casual and problematic is exceedingly thin. People failing to recognize that they have a problem is not uncommon. There are a number of symptoms that could indicate that a problem exists, according to the Mayo Clinic, including but not limited to:

  • Lying to family and friends about your gambling.
  • Attempting to stop gambling without success.
  • Gambling as a method of escape from life problems or to relieve troubling feelings.
  • Gambling to raise money to pay off gambling debts.
  • Losing jobs, relationships, and opportunities because of the behavior.

Anyone can see, the above symptoms are quite similar to the behaviors of your typical substance user.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2018

Some of you may be aware that March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM), an observance led by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). Now in its 14th year, the organization wants to steer the national conversation towards problem gambling screening. This year’s theme, “Have the Conversation,” is meant to encourage healthcare providers to screen patients for this concerning mental health disorder.

As with any national observance devoted to raising awareness, events are being held over the month of March to discuss prevention methods and get the word out that treatment and recovery works. The organization has created a toolkit to help doctors identify signs of problem gambling and assist them in talking to patients about their options.

If you are unable to attend an event this month, you can still take part in the campaign to raise awareness. NCPG has created graphics that you can share on your social media accounts.

Problem Gambling Treatment and Recovery

If you or a loved one’s life has become unmanageable due to any type of gambling, please contact PACE Recovery Center for a free consultation. Unchecked problem gambling will continue to complicate your life, the sooner you seek help, the better. We specialize in assisting clients to get to the root of their addictions or behavioral health disorders and provide them with the tools to lead a fulfilling and productive life in recovery.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

problem gambling

Recovery from mental illness is possible, but it is always darkest before the dawn. If you have personal experience with addiction (i.e. problem gambling), then you understand firsthand that it is a progressive disease. Left untreated, you continue to spiral down until, at some point, you realize that you are in a worse position than hitting rock bottom—in fact, you are looking up at your “bottom.”

It is said time and time again in the circles of recovery, that one must truly reach their bottom in order to be willing to surrender and be able to embrace the principles of recovery. But, the truth of the matter is that you actually hit, and surpass several bottoms in multidimensional ways—a veritable tesseract of despair. No matter which direction you look, you are confronted by the entryway doors that connect you with the world around you closed or closing, one after another. With active addiction, you can feel like you are falling in multiple directions at the same time, stretching your mind to the brink. You finally cease plunging for just enough time to take a panoramic snapshot of existence, only to discover upon development that you are, in fact, alone—shackled to the disease. At such a crossroad, one must make a choice; follow the path you are on to its logical end, or…

Addiction is a mental health disorder that takes many different shapes. And while a number of behaviors or substances can be habit forming, regardless of what you are dependent upon, the outcomes for each of the afflicted (left untreated) are typically the same. Any number of things can lead to dependence, and each of them in their own way can bring one to their knees: Snatching friends, family, livelihood and life right out from under you. Fortunately, if one works on any problem, a solution can oftentimes be found. When it comes to addiction the solution is treatment and a commitment to work a program of spiritual maintenance.

There are millions of Americans plagued by one form of mental illness or compulsive disorder. However, while it is easy to find information about treating and recovering from a substance use disorder, the same cannot be said for other debilitating conditions—such as “gambling addiction" or "compulsive gambling." The reasons are numerous, but it is important that those who are actively struggling with problem gambling, sometimes referred to as Ludomania, come to realize that they are not alone and help is available.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Gambling can turn into a dangerous two-way street when you least expect it. Weird things happen suddenly, and your life can go all to pieces.” —H.S. Thompson

In 2012, there were an estimated 5.77 million disordered gamblers in the U.S. in need of treatment, according to the 2013 National Survey of Problem Gambling Services. Yet, of that staggering number of problem gamblers, only 10,387 (less than one quarter of one percent (0.18%) people were treated that year in U.S. state-funded problem gambling treatment programs. In comparison, substance use disorders were about 3.6 times more common at the time, than gambling disorders. However, the amount of public funding allotted for substance use disorder treatment was about 281 times greater ($17 billion: $60.6 million) than the funds directed towards treating problem gamblers.

Every March, a grassroots campaign is waged to raise awareness about problem gambling. During Problem Gambling Awareness Month events and activities will be held around the country to “educate the general public and healthcare professionals about the warning signs of problem gambling and to raise awareness about the help that is available both locally and nationally.”

This is an important time for raising awareness about the condition, because there is a serious effort on federal and state levels to lift or amend the federal prohibition on sports betting, ESPN reports. While the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) is neutral about whether or not sports betting should be legal, the organization believes that expanding the practice across the country will likely result in more people playing and in turn—more problem gamblers. The NCPG is asking legislators behind expanding sports gambling for funds to prevent and treat gambling addiction.

Getting Help

If you are a compulsive gambler and need assistance, you can call the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (800-522-477). In some instances, your or your loved one’s condition may be so severe that residential addiction treatment is the best option. Additionally, PACE Recovery Center's Orange County Intensive Outpatient Program is a men’s only - gender specific program. We treat men who are suffering from drug and alcohol issues, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, relationship issues, process addictions, and gambling addiction.

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