If the World Health Organization says too much video gaming can be a sign of addiction, then what about too much chocolate, too much exercise or sex?
What Makes Us Addicted?
The World Health Organization’s decision of making “gaming disorder” might have revived a debate in the medical community. Will other behaviors be considered similar to drug addiction?
The definition of addiction shows that it’s a disease that is caused by the compulsive use of drugs or alcohol, which makes our brain chemistry change. This addiction will damage a person’s health, social life, relationships, jobs and what is considered a normal life.
Some studies showed that excessive gaming could affect the brain in the same way as drugs and alcohol do. Dr. Walter Ling, a UCLA psychiatrist, explains loosely what addiction is:
“A disease of extreme behavior. Any behavior carried to extreme that consumes you and keeps you from doing what you should be doing becomes an addiction as far as life is concerned.”
However, the American Psychiatric Association considers compulsive video gaming a “condition,” nut a disease. They believe that it doesn’t qualify as an addiction, not with this little research.
What Can Cause Addiction?
Drugs like opioids or alcohol will “over-activate” the reward circuit in the brain. Dr. Andrew Saxon, the chairman of the association’s addiction psychiatry council, explained that narcotics flood the brain with dopamine. The person is encouraged to continue using drugs to get more of that “rewarding” feeling.
Is caffeine addictive? According to The World Health Organization, caffeine “dependence” is a disorder, but the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t consider it, saying that more research is needed.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can also activate the reward system in the brain, but it’s weaker than drugs. It doesn’t cause the same problems found in drug addiction.
Dr. Ellen Selkie, is a University of Michigan physician. She studies the use of digital technology in teenagers, saying that:
“The term ‘addiction’ is tossed around pretty commonly, like ‘chocoholic’ or saying you’re addicted to reality TV.”
In her opinion, addiction means not being able to control the use of a drug or digital technology (in this case), “to the point where you’re failing at life.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere