Lack of Gaming Addiction Treatment Options Raises Concern

By David Konow 07/01/19

Getting treatment for gaming addiction is an expensive, arduous task in the US.

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person with gaming addiction

Even with the World Health Organization classifying video game addiction as a mental disorder, there is still much debate as to whether an addiction to video games should still be a considered a serious concern or not.

Gaming Disorder Cannot Be Diagnosed In The US

A report on NPR explains that therapists are very concerned about technology addiction among adolescents, and that it’s hard to find the right treatment for it in the United States.

NPR focused on a treatment facility in Minnesota, where Dr. Shalene Kennedy claims that 75% of the adolescents they work with are using too much technology. Even with the World Health Organization declaring video game addiction a mental disorder earlier this year, an individual can’t be officially diagnosed with having a gaming or technology addiction in the U.S. 

Finding gaming addiction treatment for adolescents can be particularly difficult in the U.S. Trish Vanni, a pastor from Minnesota, tried to get her son into treatment for gaming addiction, and she said it was “a wasteland of help, an absolute wasteland. It was so frustrating. He couldn’t even leave the house, couldn’t hold a job, couldn’t be responsible for his rent and to his roommates.”

Some Experts Believe Gaming Addiction To Be An Underlying Symptom Of A Mental Health Issue

Some experts believe that video game addiction can be an underlying symptom of depression or anxiety or even another addiction. Vanni says her friends would assuage her concerns by noting that her son "could be addicted to drugs." Vanni soldiered on looking for treatment as his addiction became more "acute."

Trying to find treatment across the country, there were only a few retreats that met her son's needs but they came at a high cost, with treatment plans costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Finally, she was able to connect her son with Julian Sheats, a man from St. Paul who overcame a gaming habit. Sheats and Vanni’s son work the 12-step program, and Sheats feels if gaming addiction could be properly diagnosed in the U.S., it would make it a lot easier for people to get help for it.

“It’s not something you have to be confused about or feel like an outsider about,” Sheats explains. “Rather, you just have a medical condition just as much as if you had rheumatoid arthritis, I think would relieve a lot of the stress of these young individuals."

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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