Next year, an outpatient (OP) clinic for those who are addicted to gaming will be opened in Abu Dhabi, according to a senior official last Saturday, 9th November.
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Dr. Hamad Al Ghaferi stated that the new clinic will open at the Abu Dhabi premises of the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), the leading rehabilitation body in the UAE.
Rehab Clinic for Gamers Opening Next Year
Since 2002, the NRC has provided treatment for alcoholism, substance abuse, and other behavioural addictions. As the Director-General of the NRC, Al Ghaferi shared that the centre serves both Emiratis and expats in the country, WAM News Agency reported.
“The NRC is welcoming all patients [who are addicted to any behaviour] to come and seek help from us,” he announced. “Gaming addiction is mainly a behavioural issue and we are building the capacity and training our workforce to deal with any sort of addictive behaviours.”
Al Ghaferi explained that the initiative to open a clinic for gaming addicts comes soon after after a decision made by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which added “gaming addiction” to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
Last year, the WHO released the 11th revision of the ICD, which referred to gaming disorder as “a pattern of gaming behaviour (digital-gaming or video-gaming) characterised by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities.”
The WHO also mentioned that the addition of a disorder into the ICD serves as a basis for countries to plan public health strategies and monitor trends of disorders.
Playing video games is extremely popular in the country, the NRC said, citing a recent study by gaming analytics firm Newzoo, which found that the UAE consistently ranked among the top 100 gaming markets in the world based on revenue source. In particular, more than 80 percent of mobile phone users in the country identified themselves as “mobile gamers.”
Nevertheless, the NRC clarified that at present, they have not treated any cases of gaming addiction. “We did not receive any patients as such,” Al Ghaferi said. “We have to raise awareness within the community and we have to alert families about this possible problem.”
The Director-General also stressed that it is the addict’s right to seek help. In response, the NRC will offer treatment based on the person’s particular situation, he stated during the 6th meeting on Public Health Implications of Behavioural Addictions held in Abu Dhabi.
“The participation in the meeting will give us more ideas about tackling this issue,” Al Ghaferi said during the meeting, which gathered experts from around the world to discuss rehabilitation programs related to excessive use of the Internet, including gaming platforms.
Notably, the NRC is coordinating with Japanese experts who have studied gaming addiction in Japan. Plans to conduct a similar study in the UAE are being made, specifically to determine nationalities, age groups, and other factors concerning gaming addiction.
All kinds of addiction — mobile gaming included — should be taken seriously, especially if it affects a person’s everyday life. Indeed, we shouldn’t hesitate to seek help when we need it! What’s more, we should keep in mind these emergency numbers and hotlines in Abu Dhabi.