The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is released by the American Psychiatric Association and contains information on all mental disorders recognized by the US healthcare system as well as their diagnostic criteria. The latest edition, released last year, includes two interesting changes. First, the section describing substance-related and addictive disorders now includes gambling disorder. Second and perhaps more interestingly, the DSM-5’s Section III now lists internet gaming disorder, which designates it as a condition that should be researched further.
Including internet gaming disorder is a result of evidence coming from research done in several Asian countries of young people’s internet habits and preoccupation with the internet and online gaming. Known as “gamers,” these young people – mainly young males – play online games compulsively and ignore other aspects of their lives to their detriment. That research plus others are suggesting that mental pathways are being rewired in those people who exhibit high levels of preoccupation with internet gaming, and they’re experiencing pleasure and reward in much the same way substance addicts do.
The DSM-5’s changes are important because, as a group, behavioral addictions aren’t recognized as mental disorders, but now the DSM-5 is beginning to acknowledge the negative compulsive behavior behind some actions and that it may have greater mental health implications than previously thought. These moves create awareness and hopefully lead young people to check their own habits – and seek help if the problem is bigger than they realized.
Wilderness Therapy Helping Teens Overcome an Unhealthy Relationship with the Internet
From digital detoxes – weekends away from all technology – to internet addiction treatment centers, people are offering help and people are seeking help for excessive internet use. Though the DSM-5 has limited internet gaming addiction criteria to online games, it doesn’t mean people (non-gamers) don’t struggle with internet addiction issues that could include general internet use, online gambling, and social media.
Teens and young adults may be more susceptible to internet addiction issues. They’ve never known a world without the internet. Also, internet addiction may likely stem from other troubles in their lives, such as identity issues, low self-esteem, depression, or even ADHD, because the internet offers an outlet or escape, and they have not yet developed healthy coping skills.
Internet usage issues can quickly become complex, so where one goes for help dealing with it is important. Wilderness therapy has been able to help troubled adolescents and young adults struggling with a variety of issues. The wilderness therapy program at Pacific Quest integrates a highly clinical approach with the holistic, using traditional clinical therapy with experiential learning through horticulture therapy to achieve healing and change. Beyond giving troubled adolescents a chance to get away from the source of their troubles, Pacific Quest’s unique approach that includes individualized care plans means it is equipped to help those struggling with internet addiction and the additional issues that may have contributed to it.