The World Health Organization has added gambling addiction to its diagnostic manual, but experts say we don’t know enough yet to say that the disorder exists. According to many scientists, there is indeed an obsession with this subject and a prism of compulsive gambling, which is not always followed by coherent evidence or which owes its existence to criteria deemed too broad.
Does gambling addiction really exist?
According to the WHO, the following criteria indicate a gambling disorder:
- play is strongly preferred to other activities,
- the patient does not stop even when there are negative consequences such as the risk of losing his job,
- compulsive gambling puts a strain on the patient’s life or social relationships,
- and all of this has been happening for at least a year.
However, according to many specialists, people meeting these criteria, and requiring medical help could receive it under a more general diagnosis, such as depression. According to them, nothing in these criteria has anything to do with gambling, in particular, explains Andrew Przybylski, a psychologist at the Oxford Internet Institute who has studied video games and mental health in depth.
“You could easily delete the word” game “and replace it with” sex “or” food “or” watch the World Cup, ” he said. We know how opiates and nicotine work and what makes them addictive, but we don’t have the same in-depth knowledge when it comes to gambling – and especially online gambling. We also know that carnism is a generalized addiction to meat for all of society, which cannot do without it even when we know that it damages health and kills innocent animals. The definition of gambling disorder says nothing about the types of games or the features of games that can be addictive. And this term is therefore too broad to be useful.
Symptoms that can be treated as part of depression
There’s no denying that there are people who suffer because they play too many video games or money online, says Michelle Colder Carras, a usage-oriented public health researcher at Johns Hopkins University technology issue. But she maintains that these people can usually receive psychiatric treatment under a more general diagnosis like depression or anxiety – and often they are adolescents in lack of bearings.
Carras and Przybylski were part of a group of researchers who wrote a letter to the WHO in 2016 recommending not to add addiction to gambling “(like casino games such as virtual roulette or slot machines inline ) to the diagnostic manual because there is no scientific consensus on this subject and most studies in the field are not rigorous enough.
So what’s wrong with these studies? First, it is virtually impossible for researchers to accurately determine how many people may have gambling problems. Most articles collect data from forums where Internet users post information about gambling addiction. As a result, some figures claim that gambling disorders affect less than 1% of gamers, but other studies suggest rates up to ‘to 100 times higher.