CBT May be Effective Treatment for Internet and Gaming Addiction

According to the results of a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could be an effective treatment method for those living with internet and computer game addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Explained

CBT is a specific type of psychological treatment. It has successfully been used to help clients facing a variety of life issues, including:

• Alcohol and drug use problems
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Eating disorders
• Marital difficulties
• Mental illness

It is based on the principle that psychological problems come from either flawed or unhelpful thought patterns. These unhelpful ways of thinking lead to learned patterns of behavior that are also unhelpful. By learning to adjust one’s thought patterns to more positive and helpful ones, CBT clients also learn how to develop new behavior patterns that may lead to improved problem-solving abilities, less stress and anxiety and less dependence on chemicals.

Random Sample Used for Therapy Study

Researchers ran a study with a random sample of 143 men living with internet and computer game addiction. The average age of the participants was 26.2 years. One group of participants received manualized CBT, while the other one was placed on a wait-list/control group for 15 weeks.

The study was conducted in several locations serving outpatients in Germany and Austria (January 2012-June 2017). The main outcome was abeyance from internet addiction on completion of the CBT program. The result was measured using the Assessment of Internet and Computer Game Addiction Self-report.

Most Participants Report Remission After CBT

On analyzing their results, the researchers discovered that 69.4 percent of participants in the treatment group and 23.9 percent of those in the control group went into remission. The researchers also found that remission rates were higher in the manualized CBT group as opposed to the wait-list/control group. This conclusion was reached after taking into account additional factors, including the participants’ age and baseline severity of their addiction.

The study had an important limitation, which was that it relied on the participants to self-report their impressions of the effectiveness of CBT or trying to recover from internet and computer addiction without this form of therapy.

The researchers felt that more trials would be needed to investigate the long-term effectiveness of CBT on clients being treated for internet and computer game addiction. These future trials would include active control conditions and should consider the effects of any other drugs the participants are using.