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Both sides of the story: Addiction is not a pastime activity

Commentary on: Scholars’ open debate paper on the World Health Organization ICD-11 Gaming Disorder proposal (Aarseth et al.)

Authors: Kai W. Müller and Klaus Wölfling

The proposed inclusion of Internet gaming disorder (IGD) into the upcoming ICD-11 has caused mixed reactions. Having a sound diagnostic framework for defining this new phenomenon has been applauded but concerns have risen regarding overpathologizing a mere pastime activity. The review by Aarseth et al. (2016) provides a fine but one-sided impression on IGD. What has been totally left out in the argumentation is the clinical perspective. Although the concerns depicted must not be ignored, the conclusion provided by the authors is reflecting quite subjective speculations while objectivity would rather be needful.

Open access

Background and aims

Behavioral addictions and bipolar disorders have a certain probability of co-occurrence. While the presence of a manic episode has been defined as an exclusion criterion for gambling disorder, no such exclusion has been formulated for Internet addiction.

Methods

A clinical sample of 368 treatment seekers presenting with excessive to addictive Internet use was screened for bipolar spectrum disorders using the Mood Disorder Questionnaire. Psychopathology was assessed by the Symptom Checklist 90R and a clinical interview was administered to screen for comorbid disorders.

Results

Comorbid bipolar disorders were more frequent in patients meeting criteria for Internet addiction (30.9%) than among the excessive users (5.6%). This subgroup showed heightened psychopathological symptoms, including substance use disorders, affective disorders and personality disorders. Further differences were found regarding frequency of Internet use regarding social networking sites and online-pornography.

Discussion

Patients with Internet addiction have a heightened probability for meeting criteria of bipolar disorders. It is not possible to draw conclusions regarding the direction of this association but it is recommended to implement screening for bipolar disorders in patients presenting with Internet addiction.

Conclusion

Similar to gambling disorder, it might prove necessary to subsume bipolar disorders as an exclusion criterion for the future criteria of Internet addiction.

Open access

Background and aims

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) and other Internet-related disorders (IRDs) have become growing health concerns in our today’s lives. Based on defined diagnostic criteria, IGD has been recognized as a condition for further research in the DSM-5; however, other IRDs have been excluded. Since the release of the DSM-5, representativeness and appropriateness of the nine diagnostic criteria have been debated. Although some first evidence has been published to evaluate these criteria, our knowledge is still limited. Thus, the purpose of this study was to provide data on the clinical validity of the DSM-5 criteria for IGD and other types of IRD. We were also interested in examining the additional diagnostic validity of craving that is currently not being considered in the DSM-5.

Methods

Analyses on a sample of n = 166 treatment seekers for IRDs were performed. The clinician’s diagnosis was used as a main reference for determining the DSM criteria’s diagnostic performance. Secondary criteria (depression and anxiety) were defined as indicators for the construct validity.

Results

The overall diagnostic accuracy ranged between 76.6% for deceiving and 92% for loss of control and craving. Considerable differences occurred in the degree of sensitivity and specificity between the single criteria. No particular differences were found for the applicability of the criteria to other forms of IRDs.

Discussion and conclusions

Our results confirm the validity of the DSM criteria. However, the diagnostic utility of the criterion escaping aversive moods is critically discussed. Considering craving as an additional diagnostic indicator might be recommendable.

Open access
Authors: Sebastián Giralt, Kai W. Müller, Manfred E. Beutel, Michael Dreier, Eva Duven and Klaus Wölfling

Background and aims

Gambling disorder is a significant public health concern. Especially, male minors have been shown to gamble in a problematic way, despite legal prohibitions.

Methods

We examined representative samples of students aged from 12 to 18 years (N = 9,309) in two German federal states to provide prevalence data and clinical description of risk factors for problematic gambling.

Results

We found that about 40% of the adolescents reported engaging in gambling activities within the past 12 months and found prevalence rates of 1.7% and 2.2% for problematic gambling. Especially, use of online gambling and slot machines was found to be related to problematic gambling. Male adolescents with a migration background were of higher risk for problematic gambling and psychopathological symptoms were significantly elevated among that group.

Discussion

The results indicate that participation in gambling activities is common among underaged adolescents and that prevalence of problematic gambling exceeds rates of adults. Similarly, problematic gambling is associated with increased psychopathological strain.

Conclusion

Given that a high proportion of adult gamblers report having started gambling in adolescents, our data emphasize the need for prevention and early intervention strategies for problematic gambling.

Open access

Including gaming disorder in the ICD-11: The need to do so from a clinical and public health perspective

Commentary on: A weak scientific basis for gaming disorder: Let us err on the side of caution (van Rooij et al., 2018)

Authors: Hans-Jürgen Rumpf, Sophia Achab, Joël Billieux, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Natacha Carragher, Zsolt Demetrovics, Susumu Higuchi, Daniel L. King, Karl Mann, Marc Potenza, John B. Saunders, Max Abbott, Atul Ambekar, Osman Tolga Aricak, Sawitri Assanangkornchai, Norharlina Bahar, Guilherme Borges, Matthias Brand, Elda Mei-Lo Chan, Thomas Chung, Jeff Derevensky, Ahmad El Kashef, Michael Farrell, Naomi A. Fineberg, Claudia Gandin, Douglas A. Gentile, Mark D. Griffiths, Anna E. Goudriaan, Marie Grall-Bronnec, Wei Hao, David C. Hodgins, Patrick Ip, Orsolya Király, Hae Kook Lee, Daria Kuss, Jeroen S. Lemmens, Jiang Long, Olatz Lopez-Fernandez, Satoko Mihara, Nancy M. Petry, Halley M. Pontes, Afarin Rahimi-Movaghar, Florian Rehbein, Jürgen Rehm, Emanuele Scafato, Manoi Sharma, Daniel Spritzer, Dan J. Stein, Philip Tam, Aviv Weinstein, Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, Klaus Wölfling, Daniele Zullino and Vladimir Poznyak

The proposed introduction of gaming disorder (GD) in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) has led to a lively debate over the past year. Besides the broad support for the decision in the academic press, a recent publication by van Rooij et al. (2018) repeated the criticism raised against the inclusion of GD in ICD-11 by Aarseth et al. (2017). We argue that this group of researchers fails to recognize the clinical and public health considerations, which support the WHO perspective. It is important to recognize a range of biases that may influence this debate; in particular, the gaming industry may wish to diminish its responsibility by claiming that GD is not a public health problem, a position which maybe supported by arguments from scholars based in media psychology, computer games research, communication science, and related disciplines. However, just as with any other disease or disorder in the ICD-11, the decision whether or not to include GD is based on clinical evidence and public health needs. Therefore, we reiterate our conclusion that including GD reflects the essence of the ICD and will facilitate treatment and prevention for those who need it.

Open access