World Health Organization Classifies Game Addiction As A Behavioral Disease

World Health Organization Classifies Game Addiction As A Behavioral Disease

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The World Heatlh Organization (WHO) voted today to adopt the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), an update to what the WHO views as a serious diseases that includes a new entry called “Gaming disorder.”

Gaming disorders are now part of a pair of “Disroders due to addictive behaviors” that also includes gambling disorders. While the WHO previously recognized gaming disorders as a disease back in June, today’s vote officially adopts the ICD-11, making it the standard members of the WHO (which includes the United States along with much of the world) must use when making their own decisions about healthcare, treatment, prevention, and more going forward. Member nations must begin reporting health data using the ICD-11 by January 2022.

For reference, here is the official entry on gaming disorder in the ICD-11.

Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour [sic] (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by:

  1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
  2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
  3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

Also last June, the ESA responded to the WHO’s recognition of gaming disorders as a disease with a statement opposing it, citing that “its inclusion remains highly contested an inconclusive.”

Author: Suriel Vazquez
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