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WHO Proposes ‘Gaming Disorder’ as Part of Addiction Diagnosis

The latest draft of the World Health Organization‘s 2018 international classification of diseases is now available online. Considering the diagnostic manual classification’s last update is all the way back in 1990, it is due for an update. For almost 30 years people’s lifestyles have changed and that includes the growth of gaming in most people’s lives. Which is why entry number 6D11 in the latest draft is an interesting inclusion since it specifically relates to ‘gaming disorder’.

This is what WHO is calling addictive behavior that impairs important areas of functioning. That includes personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other areas. From this parent 6D11 classification, the behavior has two sub-classifications: offline and online gaming.

Similar to Other Addiction Classifications

The addictive behavior is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior. This applies whether it may be offline or online, on PC, consoles or mobile. Just like with gambling and drug addiction, it is not so much the amount of consumption that is the earmark for classification. But rather the impaired behavior that manifests when partaking in these activities.

The draft lists ‘impaired control’ over gaming as one symptom. This includes intensity, duration, frequency and rage issues. Like with other addictive behaviors, increased priority given to the behavior is also a symptom. Often taking precedence over usual life interests or priority over responsibilities. The third earmark is continuation or escalation despite consequences.

These are very much similar to how doctors identify substance abuse patients, with the notable exception of factoring in genetic predisposition. Substance abuse is its own classification set under the WHO list. Gaming disorder is within the ‘Behavioural Addiction’ classification, along with gambling addiction

According to the WHO draft, the classification applies if the symptoms listed manifest over a period of at least 12 months in order for a proper diagnosis assignment. If the patient exhibits all symptoms with severity, then the doctor may forego necessary duration requirements.

Ron Perillo

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