The Ministry of Health includes video games in its National Addiction Strategy

The video game they are becoming a protagonist of this 2018. Since the World Health Organization, WHO, indicated that the addiction to this form of digital leisure would be part of the catalog of mental illnesses, the debate began. Is the dependence on these items something that deserves the attention of the health authorities of the different countries?

It seems that in the case of Spain the answer is yes since the National Strategy of Addictions presented by the Ministry of Health of this country has incorporated the video game in its action catalog by 2024 to be able to provide support to all those who suffer from dependency on them and incorporate a policy that takes into account the different strategies and action plans in force in the autonomous communities in order to take into account the objectives, approaches and lines of intervention.

Addictions without substance

The National Addiction Strategy includes four fields of action: legal drugs (snuff, alcohol), prescription drugs and other substances with addictive potential, illegal drugs, including new and addictions without substance, as in this case video games. An incorporation that like the WHO takes into account these products in order to help people who demonstrate dependence from them.

During the last two decades the understanding of the phenomenon of addictions and in the acceptance of the principle of investing in approaches that prove effective has increased. The international scientific community has assumed new forms of dependency as those in which there is no substance. Unlike alcohol or tobacco there is no physical element present, however people show a constant need to use them, as in this case video games.

The intention of this National Addiction Strategy is to carry out preventive interventions, as well as reduce risk factors and increase protection factors against the consumption of these products susceptible to generate addiction. In this way, today, society faces new forms of dependency without substance, especially pathological gambling.

Recognize addiction

At this point it is worth asking, how to recognize addiction to video games? How to know if the simple habitual consumption of this digital leisure passes to a dependency? From the World Health Organization, a series of points that distinguishes between the use and abuse of these technologies. For the disorder to be diagnosed, the pattern of behavior must be sufficiently severe and persistent over time to produce significant deterioration in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other areas and has usually shown signs of dependence quite evident for at least 12 months.

From this definition, the following can be extracted symptom of the action disorder to the videojuegos:

- Lack of control over the game. The person is not able to control their behavior with the video game and can not put limits on the time they invest in these activities or the times they do during the day or week.

- Total priority over video games. Video games happen to be above other vital interests and day-to-day routines such as housework or sports practices.

- Ignore the negative consequences. The person, even knowing the repercussions or consequences that may have on his life, will continue playing.

Damián Montero

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