Gaming Disorder is Officially Recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO)

The new revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) has been adopted by all members of WHO, which includes Gaming Disorder. ICD-11 will come into effect on January 1, 2022.

The team at Digital Media Treatment & Education Center (DTEC®), located in Boulder, CO, is extremely pleased that WHO has recognized Gaming Disorder in the ICD-11. This provides legitimacy of a problem that people in the U.S. and around the world are hesitant to recognize. In addition, it will support the identification of an established practice that is employed by professionals in mental health, addiction recovery, and research. Once the ICD-11 goes in to effect in 2022, our hope is most insurance companies will provide coverage for the treatment of Gaming Disorder.

Gaming Disorder is in a Subcategory in ICD-11 called “Disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors”. Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent problematic gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline.

It is important to recognize that many people enjoy playing video games without a negative impact on their overall health and wellness. It is not that video games are a problem in and of themselves. Where we see problems emerge, is when people cannot control their use any longer and as result, they experience many negative consequences. These consequences may include, a decline in mental health (depression, anxiety), suicidal ideation, aggression, academic problems and failure, loss of employment, and significant problems with family and peer relationships.

Tracy Markle, the Founder & Co-Director of Digital Media Treatment & Education Center (DTEC®) located in Boulder, CO has created a treatment approach based on her many years of experience in the mental health and addiction field, which also includes the most current research and brain science associated with digital media use and overuse. In 2016, Dr. Brett Kennedy joined Tracy as the Co-Director of DTEC® where he assisted Tracy to refine the treatment approach. The treatment approach, FITS-IA®,Family engagement ~ Integrated Treatment~ Social connection for treating Internet Addictionis utilized for outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment, residential treatment, wilderness therapeutic programs, and aftercare programs.

The purpose of this time-tested approach is to engage the Family system, which we, as well research, finds is the most successful treatment modality to support lasting change from compulsive and addictive behaviors. Integrated Treatment supports a wholistic approach to the treatment of Digital Media Overuse & common co-existing issues, which includes, providing individual, family & group psychotherapy, engaging psychiatrists, pediatricians, teachers and administrators, physical exercise, nutrition and more. Those who struggle with the symptoms of Gaming Disorder are often isolated from real life others, and in many cases have lost the ability and the desire to be in the real world. Social recovery & connection typically include the treatment for social anxiety or generalized anxiety, isolation, avoidance, and depressive symptoms, all of which commonly co-exist with Gaming Disorder. The Social component of the FITS-IA® approach is a critical factor that is necessary to support recovery from Gaming Disorder, as well as those who are grappling with other Digital Media Overuse areas which include, Social Media, Online Pornography, Information Overload, and Compulsive Online Spending.

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