British Politician Suggests State-Funded Games Addiction Rehab

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British Politician Suggests State-Funded Games Addiction Rehab

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Keith Vaz MP has recommended that the British government use state funds to treat people addicted to gaming.

Keith Vaz, British Member of Parliament for Leicester East and chairman of the very busy Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, has long been concerned about the potential he sees for societal harm in the consumption (and over-consumption) of videogames, especially in the world's youth. Now, in response to a study that found vague similarities between the brains of internet addicts to those of people addicted to narcotics, Vaz has called for people who spend unhealthy amounts of time gaming to be treated for their addiction on the UK's state-funded National Health Service (NHS).

Describing his position on the issue, Vaz said that he is "concerned" about the above-mentioned "your brain on the internet looks kinda like your brain on coke" research. "Much more research needs to be done on the potentially harmful effects of overexposure to the internet and video games," he continued.

"In the most extreme cases, people have neglected to feed their children and suffered fatal deep vein thrombosis as a result of the extended time spent at their computer or games console," added Vaz. "This needs to be recognized as a serious problem by the Government. Such behavior can destroy lives and treatment and support should be available as it is for any other lifestyle problem which impacts upon mental or physical health."

For gamers who are familiar with Vaz's past record (which includes a call for Parliament to assist parents in "protecting" children from games over Christmas and a slew of protests against Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3) it's hard not to approach his announcement with skepticism.

Could his call hold any water, though? Like the United States, Britain already has at least one private rehab clinic which deals with cases of gaming addiction, a "lifestyle issue" which remains the subject of much controversy. Gaming addiction is not currently included on the standard diagnostic lists for psychological disorders, though some mental health specialists have called for "pathological internet misuse" (which refers to MMOs rather than things like 4chan, despite what the name suggests) to be added to those lists. The American Psychiatric Association has also considered adding "video game addiction" to its list of disorders.

Asking that the already-stretched NHS foot the bill for treatment of a disorder that is yet to be clinically acknowledged in the fullest sense seems a bit of a stretch. Given the current climate of fiscal austerity in the UK, there's virtually no chance of Vaz's request being carried out in the near future. But does that mean it couldn't or even shouldn't happen in the distant future? Does someone who spends inordinate amounts of their time gaming constitute enough of a threat to his- or herself to warrant psychiatric care? It's interesting to think about; do let us know what you think.

Source: Huffington Post UK

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This is just too funny. After bankrupting the country and dragging us into US warcrimes a Labour politician wants to setup a clinc for a made up illness whilst real people with real disabilities and real problems are having all their benefits cut. Get with the program Mr Vaz, start trying to protect the services that are in threat of closure, protect the care homes and try to get carers a fair deal rather than make some lame point about gaming. Mr Vaz, ANYTHING can be addictive, its not just games, its TV, its food, its pop, its comics, its sticking your own head up a ducks bottom (though I'm afraid your the only known sufferer Mr Vaz).

Well to be honest, anything that takes a person so far that they ignore their basic survival instincts for extended periods of time, is a significant problem.

Is it gaming addiction that's the problem though? Or is gaming "addiction" the manifestation of other underlying psychiatric problems?

In theory : Good idea
In practice: I think it would be detrimental to most people who the public view as "gaming addicts".

EDIT *i don't know much about the current political state of the UK*

Isn't this the guy who was suspended from the house of commons as well as having been a part of several inquires and claimed a rather large amount on expenses?

A gaming addiction clinic would treat a symptom of something worse.
The person would still have a problem, it just wouldn't be expressed via spending all day and all night gaming.

Noone can deny that there must be something wrong with someone who would let their kid die because they couldnt step away from their WoW raid or their cabbage patch in Farmville... But the games arent what cause these issues.

People dont seem to understand you have to treat the cause.

Orcboyphil:
Get with the program Mr Vaz, start trying to protect the services that are in threat of closure,

I know little about British politics but I imagine he, like all politicians, is doing this to protect the single most important thing that might lose government funding in the next few years: Himself.

Keith Vaz, attention whore.

At least he's consistent I guess.

Orcboyphil:
This is just too funny. After bankrupting the country and dragging us into US warcrimes a Labour politician wants to setup a clinc for a made up illness whilst real people with real disabilities and real problems are having all their benefits cut. Get with the program Mr Vaz, start trying to protect the services that are in threat of closure, protect the care homes and try to get carers a fair deal rather than make some lame point about gaming. Mr Vaz, ANYTHING can be addictive, its not just games, its TV, its food, its pop, its comics, its sticking your own head up a ducks bottom (though I'm afraid your the only known sufferer Mr Vaz).

The "yea, there's bigger problems to worry about" could apply to a vast number of worthy causes though. The thing that this guy is suggesting isn't going to be a massive drain on the economy, it probably just means a few specialists spread out through the country.
We already have therapists for other types of addicts, not just drugs and alchohol but sex and gambling as well. I don't see why we should treat people who use videogames to fill a hole in their lives differently from those who have had similar problems from sex or drugs. If there was a bunch of people who compulsively stuck their heads up ducks asses, then I think those people would need help.
He isn't saying that videogames are a problem*, just that people who have a problem with videogames need help.

*Ok, maybe he is

the human brain looks like it's on coke for quite a few activities. should we stop joggers to prevent "running highs"? yes, internet cumpulsion does exist, but we don't need specialists in it to solve the problem. I'm sure ten, fifteen minutes tops with a therapist could cure me of cumpulsive internet use.
this is a clear example of one generation panicing about another. the same thing happened with comic books, TV, movies, and hell, it probably happened with Shakesperian plays. there must have been some guy outside the theater saying they'd all got to hell for watching the play. this is no different.

How fitting. The moment I log out of the Escapist in an effort to stifle my internet addiction that's ruining my life, and I see this article.

He's right. Partially right, at least; video games aren't made to necessarily harm people, but the harm that it produces also extends to the internet. There are people out there with addictions to video games and the internet that are so bad that it wrecks their daily lives and ruins their relationships with people around them, and sometimes they're so ruinous that it takes psychiatric help to fix them. While the methods he's choosing can be questionable, he's right in the fact that there needs to be some sort of government assistance for these people.

Look at me, for example. I'm 17 years old, I'm six months away from graduation, two of my college apps probably mean nothing right now since I spent too much time procrastinating before deadlines and I finished them in a hurry, and the rest of my apps are hardly even started. My future's about to go down the drain, and here I am still bothering to type this when I've got an application to my art school to send in two weeks. It's my fault, I wasted my time and I allowed my addiction to make it happen.
I really doubt I'm the only person in a similar predicament.

So, while I'm not cool with Vaz's overall attitude towards games and I think he's probably just trying to save his own political career, he is correct when he says that computer (games and internet) addicts exist and need to be provided help.

There. My last post on this site for god-knows-when. Sayonnara.

For someone so against gaming, he seems rather determined to play the NHS for suckers.

Orcboyphil:
This is just too funny. After bankrupting the country and dragging us into US warcrimes a Labour politician wants to setup a clinc for a made up illness whilst real people with real disabilities and real problems are having all their benefits cut. Get with the program Mr Vaz, start trying to protect the services that are in threat of closure, protect the care homes and try to get carers a fair deal rather than make some lame point about gaming. Mr Vaz, ANYTHING can be addictive, its not just games, its TV, its food, its pop, its comics, its sticking your own head up a ducks bottom (though I'm afraid your the only known sufferer Mr Vaz).

Ah but you forget, THOSE are issues concerning the actual well-being of the general public, and politicians couldn't give two shits about that and hardly ever have. What they DO care about is their tendencies toward violent behavior. Remember, the working class is like the camera is a 3rd person action game. "If you can't control it, it will plot to destroy you!"

Compared to his usual rantings about video games, I actually quite like this idea. As long as people aren't forced into it, having free treatment for internet addicts is a good thing. However, hell shall freezeth over before the Conservative government let the NHS spend more money. And the chance of a Labour re-election is looking pretty damn slim.

darthotaku:
the human brain looks like it's on coke for quite a few activities. should we stop joggers to prevent "running highs"? yes, internet cumpulsion does exist, but we don't need specialists in it to solve the problem. I'm sure ten, fifteen minutes tops with a therapist could cure me of cumpulsive internet use.
this is a clear example of one generation panicing about another. the same thing happened with comic books, TV, movies, and hell, it probably happened with Shakesperian plays. there must have been some guy outside the theater saying they'd all got to hell for watching the play. this is no different.

very true: the government doesnt need to spend huge amount of money on new faculties or internet addiction centers, as if people have a problem with any kind of obscure phycological addiction, then they can just go get councelling (sometimes for free on the NHS). also, if somethings wrong with your health (mental or phsycal) you can just go to your GP, and they will tell you where to go or what to do. The UK already has a decent health service, so if the government want to spend money on health, why not spend it on something a little more useful; faster AnE would be good, but thats of the top of my head; im sure there are better suggestions than internet addiction centers to aid public health.

The Plunk:
Compared to his usual rantings about video games, I actually quite like this idea. As long as people aren't forced into it, having free treatment for internet addicts is a good thing. However, hell shall freezeth over before the Conservative government let the NHS spend more money. And the chance of a Labour re-election is looking pretty damn slim.

true, and painfully so; the Tories are terrible, but Labour has no leadership, though i totally agree with their keynesian economic policys. and, in my opinion, the tories only won by fear- the fear of a crushing debt on the UK econimy which would destroy britain, even though in reality we would have to borrow vast amounts more money than we have already before major probolems would arise.

Will this Man just not go away?

FamoFunk:
Will this Man just not go away?

Funny, I was thinking the same thing except about people who keep making idiotic claims that gaming can never ever bring anything even remotely harmful into anyones lives and that anyone who suggests this isn't the case is obviously just another Jack Thomson.

Are you bloody kidding me people?

He is trying to help people who suffer from gaming addiction, how the hell does this make him anti-gaming and an attention whore? (note that this is directed at the replies so far in general and just just the above quoted person)

Gaming has its downsides, and one of those downsides is gaming addiction. People should just bloody accept that instead of just bashing everyone who points that out because its the cool or trendy thing to do.

Will they admit foreign patients? I want to go so I have a good excuse to quit my shitty job.

But we don't have a problem with game addiction in this country, do we? I figured that game addiction was only a national problem in places like South Korea - not our technophobic United Kingdom.

Hardcore_gamer:

FamoFunk:
Will this Man just not go away?

Funny, I was thinking the same thing except about people who keep making idiotic claims that gaming can never ever bring anything even remotely harmful into anyones lives and that anyone who suggests this isn't the case is obviously just another Jack Thomson.

Are you bloody kidding me people?

He is trying to help people who suffer from gaming addiction, how the hell does this make him anti-gaming and an attention whore? (note that this is directed at the replies so far in general and just just the above quoted person)

Gaming has its downsides, and one of those downsides is gaming addiction. People should just bloody accept that instead of just bashing everyone who points that out because its the cool or trendy thing to do.

Because I suspect that he's not saying it because he wants to help, but because he wants the attention, and probably the opportunity to suggest that all gamers are addicts. If I'm wrong then I will gladly acknowledge that, but experience suggests otherwise.

There's already a private clinic for people who need it, so why not leave that be and put your money into the more important government funded operations?

Hehehehe, only in Britian! But really, aren't the cases of child neglect due to playing video games in Korea?

WWmelb:
Well to be honest, anything that takes a person so far that they ignore their basic survival instincts for extended periods of time, is a significant problem.

Is it gaming addiction that's the problem though? Or is gaming "addiction" the manifestation of other underlying psychiatric problems?

In theory : Good idea
In practice: I think it would be detrimental to most people who the public view as "gaming addicts".

EDIT *i don't know much about the current political state of the UK*

Right... we have a coalition government. The conservatives AKA tories/tory(singular) - Think republicans and Liberal democrats - ....well - both hold an equal(ish) amount of power. So obviously the tories get their way. Mr. Vaz is a labour MP but generally holds opinions similar to a tory. A lot of our politicians are massive pussies and are scared crapless of being called anything that remotely means they aren't multicultural - seriously, anything - and then you have a few extreme ones who will make a fuss about something they hear in the Daily mail - UK version of FOX News.

Like all politicians though, they believe in making a vague policy and throwing money at it until it works.

Go away Keith Vaz. You're the second thing I hate most about this country.

Quick Keith, another bandwagon. Hop on quick before you miss it, you expense fiddling chump. I hate Labour, they just love spending tax money on shit.

Ilikemilkshake:
A gaming addiction clinic would treat a symptom of something worse.
The person would still have a problem, it just wouldn't be expressed via spending all day and all night gaming.

Noone can deny that there must be something wrong with someone who would let their kid die because they couldnt step away from their WoW raid or their cabbage patch in Farmville... But the games arent what cause these issues.

People dont seem to understand you have to treat the cause.

I am sure that the people who would work in these clinics would be aware of that.

People who suffer from depression go into clinics too. Depression is a symptom, I guess, so would you say the same thing about those clinics? No, because they employ professionals who know much more about the causes of addictions and disorders than you or I ever will.

OT: He has a terrible track record, and the project would be better off with another man leading it (preferably a man who knows shit about vidya and the internet), but I dont think these clinics are a bad idea. There are more than enough patients out there who need therapy for this kind of thing - why anyone would oppose one or two clinics here and there to help these people is beyond me.

But of course, in gamers minds, admitting a person can become addicted to games equals blaming games for it. Remember guys; when someone says its possible to be addicted to WoW, for example, hes not necessarily attacking video games. All the knee jerk reactions to be seen in these comments and indeed in the article itself show a complete lack of knowledge on the subject, an inability to look at things from a logical standpoint, and once again, an utter lack of professionalism on an escapist contributers part.

My oh my, will the people that write these articles ever learn to keep their personal opinions away from their work?

EDIT: My 3000th post. Its rather fitting im complaining about something in it.

Orcboyphil:
This is just too funny. After bankrupting the country and dragging us into US warcrimes a Labour politician wants to setup a clinc for a made up illness whilst real people with real disabilities and real problems are having all their benefits cut. Get with the program Mr Vaz, start trying to protect the services that are in threat of closure, protect the care homes and try to get carers a fair deal rather than make some lame point about gaming. Mr Vaz, ANYTHING can be addictive, its not just games, its TV, its food, its pop, its comics, its sticking your own head up a ducks bottom (though I'm afraid your the only known sufferer Mr Vaz).

This excluding the "too funny" part. Priorities need to be recognised, especially when cuts are being made daily. To be honest though, I would kill for Labour to be back in charge; Conservatives only have their own interests at heart regardless of others.

wasn't there this whole economic crisis going on at the moment?
you know, astronomic debts and everything, why would these clinics take priority?

I have my own private rehab clinic for people addicted to licking seagulls. So now any claim holds water that seagull licking is addicting, right?

I think this is a constructive suggestion on behalf of Keith Vaz, certainly compared to his other ones. For all the amount of people here who refuse to accept that video games could have any possible negative impact on someone's life (what do you mean there's a generation of under-achievers?), let's face it, gamers are simultaneously the best and worst people to ask about that.

Blunderboy:

Because I suspect that he's not saying it because he wants to help, but because he wants the attention, and probably the opportunity to suggest that all gamers are addicts. If I'm wrong then I will gladly acknowledge that, but experience suggests otherwise.

Possibly he does want the attention, yes. It's better than drawing attention to something in a wholly negative manner though. Perhaps he's changing his tack because no one likes his previous approach.

And experience has shown me that a large proportion of gamers are idiots. Stupidity is not the sole reason addiction happens though. Many intelligent people become addicted to something. In fact, just knowing that they are intelligent probably makes them secure in the belief that they would never become addicted.

Lord Mountbatten Reborn:
I think this is a constructive suggestion on behalf of Keith Vaz, certainly compared to his other ones. For all the amount of people here who refuse to accept that video games could have any possible negative impact on someone's life (what do you mean there's a generation of under-achievers?), let's face it, gamers are simultaneously the best and worst people to ask about that.

Blunderboy:

Because I suspect that he's not saying it because he wants to help, but because he wants the attention, and probably the opportunity to suggest that all gamers are addicts. If I'm wrong then I will gladly acknowledge that, but experience suggests otherwise.

Possibly he does want the attention, yes. It's better than drawing attention to something wholly negative though.

And experience has shown me that a large proportion of gamers are idiots. Stupidity is not the sole reason addiction happens though. Many intelligent people become addicted to something. In fact, just knowing that they are intelligent probably makes them secure in the belief that they would never become addicted.

I'm not trying to suggest that there aren't any negative effects to too much of anything, or that there aren't stupid gamers.
I am merely pointing out that experience has taught me not to trust anything politicians say. Especially when it seemingly goes somewhat against the grain of their usually attitudes.

I think the problem here is that there is no firm evidence that excessive video game playing is a source of problems rather than a symptom. For instance, we have flu clinics, not fever clinics. I see no benefit in spending government money on unconfirmed "diseases". Private companies, on the other hand, can do what they want.

You know, I'll just quote Wiki on all the stuff Mr Vaz has done since he's been in power.

Mr Vaz is a Cretin, he is known for his lies and his bandwagon jumping, he protested the satanic verses and never quite got round to denouncing the people calling for Salman Rushdie's head, he never EVER backs up any of his facts with actual evidence and when questions pulls out the same BS unproveable facts in order to appear a better MP then he is, while in reality he could have his way with a Pig on national television and still be in better standing as an MP.

And onto his point, no one has been able prove game addiction as a real thing, they can point to people obsessed with games, as they can nearly everything else, you rarely see calls for music or shopping rehab centers and the like. When i was younger I did play far too many games for far too long, my dad took my N64 and playstaion away and wouldn't let me have them back till i did all my school work/Went outside etc. Job done. Less pointing to the evils of the games industry more pointing to lazy parents.

PS - I love auto complete.
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Ones of people forget to feed their children every year, not because they're bad parents but because they can't control their world of warcraft addiction.

Honestly, Because i'm in a dick mood, I'm going to say You can get addicted to anything. ANYTHING. And personally, I consider it a form of natural selection. If you're stupid enough to get hooked on something harmful, death is a possiblity, but people don't seem to realise this. By all means help people in trouble, but don't treat people for this kinda thing. Videogames arn't a disease. Stupidity like this is.

Seems like a decent enough idea. I wouldn't think it was that big of a deal in the UK but having something to deal with it even if it is just a clinic or too nation wide would be nice.

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