For the last five weeks, Kevin Riley has been undergoing an intensive in-patient treatment program for his video game habit, reports CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas.
“As a child, what really attracted me to games was that, being born with a disability… when I played games, people weren’t able to judge me by how I looked, but rather how I was in the game,” Riley said. He said it “definitely” became an addiction for him.
“I’d get home from work, I’d probably put in at least six hours a night, sometimes upward of 12 hours,” Riley said.
The World Health Organization announced this week it isas a mental health condition. The disorder, which experts say affects no more than 3 percent of all gamers, has three main characteristics: loss of control over gaming habits, prioritizing gaming over other activities, and continuing to play despite negative consequences.
Hilarie Cash co-founded reSTART, one of the nation’s first treatment centers for video game addiction. She said she’s seen an increase in demand. Phase one of the treatment begins with patients like Riley completely unplugging.
“So they’re essentially going through a detox,” Cash said. “They also are receiving counseling and in general getting physically fit, eating healthy, catching up on sleep.”
But a division of American Psychological Association said it’s “concerned that the current research base is not sufficient” to label gaming addiction as a disorder, which “may be more a product of moral panic than good science.” It’s a position supported by the video game industry.
Still, advocates are hoping the World Health Organization’s recognition will prompt U.S. insurance companies to cover treatment, which at reSTART can cost upwards of $60,000 a year.
“It’s important because now it will be taken seriously as a legitimate disorder,” Cash said.
As for Riley, he’s focused on taking back control of his life.
“There’s no way to avoid using technology altogether in the future, so I need to figure out a way to balance that and integrate it into my life in a healthy way,” he said.