(Mirror Daily, United States) – The World Health Organization has recently decided to include “gaming disorders” in its list of mental health conditions.
The decision has spurred a hot debate whether a behavior not involving a substance can be classified as an addiction. The answer depends on some factors.
An addiction is a disease caused by changes in the addict’s brain. The addict ends up damaging his health, social and financial life, and other parts of a normal life.
Extensive research has shown that too much gaming can impact a gamer in similar ways, including the changes-in-brain-chemistry part. Scientists have long known that addiction involves “extreme behavior” that consumes the addict and prevents him from doing what he should be doing in life.
The American Psychiatric Association has stopped short of labeling excess gaming as a disorder. The group uses the term “condition”. This means that in APA’s view, excess gaming is not an addiction. APA wants more research before labeling the issue as such.
So, What Makes Some Things Addictive?
Dr. Andrew Saxon explained that drugs and alcohol are so addictive because they prompt the brain to release huge amounts of dopamine. A healthy person’s brain only releases dopamine when stimulated by healthy behaviors that help survival, like drinking water and eating.
Because drugs and alcohol can be so rewarding, users cannot get enough of them. What’s more, addicts need to boost the amounts of drugs to get the same feel-good sensation as before. In the process the brain chemistry changes which prevents the user from having any control of the behavior.
Caffeine works in a similar way but on a much lower scale. If a coffee drinker decides to quit coffee, he’ll have to face some withdrawal symptoms like tiredness and headaches. The WHO thinks that people can have a caffeine dependence and has qualified it as a disorder.
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