The NHS Introduces Gaming Addiction Treatment For British Teenagers After It Is Declared A Medical Disorder

Feb 1, 2019 | Blog, Gaming Addiction Treatment

The NHS Introduces Gaming Addiction Treatment For British Teenagers After It Is Declared A Medical Disorder

Teens addicted to video games like PUBG or Fortnite will now be able to seek treatment, thanks to the National Health Service (NHS). The World Health Organisation has classified video gaming as a medical disorder, and the governments across the world are incorporating it into their health planning. This was bound to happen as young players were suffering from family breakdown and psychological distress as a result of addiction. The disorder will be added to the International Classification of Diseases, and the ones diagnosed will be treated by NHS.

In order to undergo treatment, the individual has to be diagnosed with a video game addiction. It should be severe enough to result in substantial impairment in occupational, educational, social, family, personal and other important areas of functioning. The teen is expected to suffer from the disorder for at least a year or so.

What Happens In A Game Like Fortnite Or PUBG?

At present, these are two of the most popular and the most addictive games in the world right now. It allows the user to compete against other players or teams across the world. As many as 100 players join a session, starting off in a flying craft, followed by dropping to their preferred locations on the map. They need to get themselves armed quickly and venture out with an objective to kill other players and emerge as winner. A typical game can last for around 20 minutes.

How Many People Play It?

The estimate can vary, but given the nature of the game, even a non-gamer would be interested in playing games like these. A market survey suggests that there are as many as 40 million users each month for this game, and the popularity keeps rising. Multiplayer online gaming is one of the most profitable industries in the market.

What is the International Classification of Diseases?

As per the definition by WHO, it is a basis for globally recognising health trends and statistics, and the international standard for reporting health conditions and diseases. It is employed by researchers across the world to categorize conditions and medical practitioners to diagnose conditions. When monitoring trends of disorders and planning public health strategies, countries take into account the inclusion of disorder in ICD.

Why Is The Gaming Disorder Included?

The decision reflects a consensus of experts, and it has been based on reviews of evidence available. It follows treatment programmes for people with health condition identical to those typical of gaming disorders.


Should Everyone Involved in Gaming Be Concerned About This Disorder?


The World Health Organisation makes it clear that a few studies have suggested that gaming disorder impacts only a small percentage of people engaged in video gaming. It says people who spend a lot of time playing games, specially ignoring other daily activities or efforts for physical development, it could be attributed to abnormal pattern of gaming behaviour. We may such categorise such gamers as addict.

The Critics On WHO’s Decision

The decision has been appreciated by some as the gaming disorder is finally getting the attention that it deserves. There’s little probability of witnessing an epidemic of young players getting addicted, but it’s a life changer for the ones suffering. Some people argue that such a move is premature, and funding may be an issue unless NHS grants finances. This may be a good step but in general for internet compulsions, there are other disorders as well, for which help is required.

The main focus, as stated by Bowden Jones of NHS supported centre, has been on gaming, since they are keen to protect young teens from dropping out of school or college. It is typically defined by WHO as a pattern of recurrent or persistent gaming behaviour and it is so severe that it can take primacy over other activities.

Dr Pozynak from the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Department of WHO told the Daily Telegraph that recent studies suggest somewhere between 1-6% of young people and adolescents may be affected by gaming addiction, but they are not yet victims. He also made it clear that the organisation has considered social media addiction as a part of its 4-year investigation into the impact on health of abusing smartphones, computers and internet. There’s no sufficient evident to validate its classification as a disorder.

This week The Daily Telegraph launched it Duty of Care campaign, calling on the governed to make social media and online gaming companies subject to a statutory duty to protect teens from harms such as addiction, bullying and grooming. Categorising gaming disorder for young men has been welcomed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, with Dr Bowden Jones in favour of the decision.

She believes it’s an important recognition for vulnerable group of people suffering. These are not the ones drinking for a long time, but young fresh bloods, where their compulsive behaviour is having negative impact on their schoolwork, family and home. With the NHS service available across the country, the existing addition units such as The Cabin Addiction Services Group are commissioned to provide help and advice to this group of people.

The Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University, Mark Griffith has added that video gaming addiction is no different to other addictions such as gambling. As per his findings, 4% of adolescents can be at risk of internet addiction, which is equal to one teen in every secondary class. While on the other hand, Richard Graham calls for funding a specialist centre to treat patients suffering from this addition. As we are going to live with devices around us in the future, it is a necessity to have such a centre.


What Causes Gaming Addiction?


While there are common factors that can make a person drug and alcohol addict, there’s little practical evidence why someone may get addicted to gaming. Some of the factors that researchers believe include the likes of:

  • Brain Chemical Changes: Just like any other compulsive disorder, video gaming releases happy hormones known as dopamine. This may be one of the factors. It is released when you take part in enjoyable activities, like when you play sports, watch a film or eat. Playing video games gives you that sense of competition and a strong urge to keep coming back to where you left.

Experts believe that abnormal levels of chemical can make a few people more predisposed to developing an addiction, since you brain starts getting positive signals from your gaming activity. It becomes difficult to stop a cycle of obsessive behaviour without professional intervention


  • Emotional Influence: With a dual diagnosis of substance and gaming addiction, or gaming along with mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety being common, it is believed that emotions play an important role in developing gaming addiction. If you frequently experience negative emotions typical of a mental condition, or are going through a period of stress, then turning to video games in order to de-stress yourself can occur. The sense of achievement associated with many games may give you that feeling of increased well-being and self-esteem which may not be that easy to derive from other aspects of life. However, such feelings only exist as long as you are gaming. This is why an addict requires more game time to escape person problems and avoid negative thoughts.



Treatment For Gaming Addiction


The approach for treating a video game addict follows almost the same protocol like the ones used for other compulsive disorders such as drug or alcohol use. It may be high time for a professional to intervene, if your teen is spending a lot of time playing computer games, while ignoring other important responsibilities and daily activities. Given the severity of the condition, treatment can vary including 12-step rehab programmes, self-help groups or behavioural therapy.

The addiction to gaming has been categorised under impulse control disorder, which implies that you experience withdrawal symptoms and find it difficult to manage your urge to play video games. This happens when you are away from gaming for a long time. You must have probably established a dependent routine involving an increased amount of gaming every day, just to satisfy cravings.

There are a number of self-help treatments and therapies to help you in managing behaviours, emotions and thoughts relating to gaming addiction. They work in conjunction towards reduction and abstinence in the amount of time spent on playing computer games. Also, they help you in learning techniques that allow you to direct the video game craving into more positive alternatives.

We use gadgets in our everyday life, and it can be difficult to avoid triggers for playing video games. The proposed methods of treatment focus on creating a level of emotional control and moderating behaviours, which implies that you can limit your gaming to an adequate amount.

The fact that we use computers extensively in everyday life means that avoiding triggers for playing computer games cannot usually be completely avoided. The following treatment methods are focused on moderating behaviours and creating a level of emotional control which means that you can limit your gaming time to an acceptable amount.

What Types Of Treatments Can You Expect At NHS Funded Centres?


  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: This is the most common technique used by many rehabilitation centres. It’s more like a talking therapy, which is used to treat various forms of addiction. It addresses the underlying concerns and issues that you are facing, which is forcing you to get stuck in a repetitive pattern of playing video games. A therapist will train you with ways of redirecting your thought processes that lead to video game addiction, by helping you to shift compulsive thoughts about playing video games and learning to focus on creative ways of combating boredom or filling time.


  • Family Therapy: Residential treatments work the best in case of any addiction, let alone the video games. In most of the cases, teens are stressed out due to environment at their home, and they try to negate it by distracting themselves and playing video games. Parents should come as a support to their teen, and try to understand what is going through their teen’s mind. It’s okay to let them break free for a while and see how they respond to it. If you can manage to keep them interested in other activities, he/she may just hop onto their desktops in free time.
  • Group Therapy: It is an extremely useful tool, when your teen is struggling with video game addiction. Make them believe that their addiction is not a unique defect, and many people suffer from it. This format allows the teen to share experiences of getting addicted and recovering from it, offering a relatable and extensive support network where you are able to build on the emotional and behavioural control techniques learned during therapy sessions.
  • 12-Step Rehab Programme: When all of the abovementioned therapies fail to give results, the centre may approach the case in a different way. Given the severity of the addiction, the diagnosed victim may have to stay under moderation for a few days, where he/she will have access to an environment without any gaming technology. There will be additional focus on learning behaviours to manage dual diagnosis of other health conditions such as stress, depression or anxiety which may be developing addictive gaming behaviour.



The rehab program is only offered if self-help groups and initial therapy have not been effective. This is specifically based on 12-step recovery programme that was introduced by AA, and it recognises that such a recovery can be a lifetime process. For continued abstinence, it is often used in conjunction with self-help groups found within local community.

If you are thinking of tackling gaming addiction at a non-NHS funded centre where your teen will receive confidentiality treatment, do consider The Edge Rehab. As a part of the Cabin Addiction Services Group, the Edge Rehab is a leading provider of addiction treatment services for young men. Headquartered in Thailand, we are widely recognised as being at the forefront of addiction treatment and behavioural health, both nationally and internationally. Contact us today to get expert assistance on video gaming addiction.


The UK’s Fake Xanax Epidemic

The UK’s Fake Xanax Epidemic

From the hidden corners of the dark net to pop culture fame, the rocketing popularity of fake Xanax is creating serious impacts in the lives of Brittan’s youth. Sharelines Why...

read more