From education to employment

Gaming Addiction: Ticking Time Bomb for UK Youth

Gaming Addiction Expert Cam Adair Tours UK’s Leading Independent Boys Schools Addressing the Ticking Time Bomb that is Gaming Addiction.

Game Quitters Founder and ex gaming addict Cam Adair has teamed up with The Edge a private addiction treatment centre in Thailand, offering a specially created residential Gaming Addiction Program at its rehab for young men (18-26 year olds).

Cam Adair and Andy Leach, Counsellor & Clinical Lead at The Cabin Chang Mai, visited the UK last month, speaking with fellow professionals who work to improve the life chances of young people, meeting the media, and presenting to students and parents at the some of the UK’s leading independent boys’ schools including Eton College, Abingdon School in Oxford and The Cedars, Croydon.

Robert Teague is the Headmaster at The Cedars in Croydon. Recognising that excessive gaming is a growing problem among boys, Robert Teague invited Cam to visit and speak to parents and students. He comments:

 “On one level, the problem with excessive gaming for teenage boys is that it stops them from undertaking other, more important, activities such as interacting with real people, studying and sleeping.  In some cases, it seems even to lead to a lack of zest for real life: if a boy is winning respect for his gaming skills and falling further behind in other aspects of life, the real world becomes for him a less and less attractive place to inhabit. 

“Parental boundaries are part of the solution, but schools can help by working with parents to re-engage boys with real life. One of the most powerful game-changers in this regard is to enable teenage boys to help real people by, for example, helping in a soup kitchen or visiting the elderly or sick.

“Helping people in real difficulty can help boys to discover and develop deeper aspects of themselves which are likely to remain untapped if they spend their time gaming.”

Game Quitters Founder Cam was a talented hockey player. At the age of 11 he experienced intense bullying, leading him to drop out of high school. He never graduated and while all his friends were off to college Cam lied to his parents about having a job and was playing video games up to sixteen hours a day.

Struggling with depression he got to the point of writing a suicide note, and it was on that night when he made a commitment to change. As a gaming addict for over 10 years Cam provided real answers and practical solutions for students to overcome this challenge and for schools to create effective support systems for this growing problem.

Game Quitters is the world’s largest support community for video game addiction offering online tools for gamers and parents serving 75,000 members in 91 countries.

Cam comments: “Six years ago I came to London for the first time. I remember it specifically because my TEDx talk was released while I was here. Today that talk has almost 400,000 views, and more importantly, it launched Game Quitters, which has brought me back full circle to London on the biggest tour of my career. The experience has been surreal. After speaking on stage for the first time six years ago, last month I found myself speaking at Eton College – one of the most prestigious schools in the world. Interacting with the boys left me inspired for the future. They were bright and very thoughtful. They asked questions I’ve never received before from students in other parts of the world. Although my talk centred on healthy gaming, the true message was about understanding why you do what you do (the underlying motivations for your habits and behaviours are) and aligning them with your goals, values, and the vision you have for your life.”

Counsellor & Clinical Lead at The Cabin Chang Mai Andy Leach discusses the tour: “This was an excellent opportunity to talk to fellow professionals, the national press and the UK’s leading independent boys’ schools about what is a ticking time bomb in terms of the latest frontier of addiction. Gaming addiction is increasingly being seen in both private practices and treatment centres such as the Edge in Thailand where 25% of our clients in the 18-26 age group present for gaming disorder. 

The presentation is in many ways no different to other addictions, though the inability for the client to break away from their obsession is astounding. Today’s games are designed to keep the player completely immersed in the experience.

Increasingly levels of reward are becoming financially incentivised with blurred lines between gambling and gaming. 

From the tour, the need for regulation in the industry and guidance for families and professionals became increasingly apparent.  The Cabin hopes to be at the forefront of treatment in this area and to continue engaging in and increasing this very important conversation.”

The Cabin Group is widely recognised as being at the forefront of addiction treatment globally. The Edge’s 90-day gaming addiction programme combines the behavioural health expertise of The Cabin with the practical solutions developed by Cam, a successfully recovered gamer who has helped 1000’s overcome their addiction.

The result is a highly-specialised programme that treats the mental health issues at the root of the addiction using a gamer-centric approach, i.e. it incorporates the specific elements needed to address gaming disorder – such as:

  • A controlled environment with professionals who are capable of dealing with withdrawal symptoms that family and friends cannot handle
  • Social element (living in a group of peers, etc.)
  • Intense physical activity and holistic elements – Muay Thai boxing, triathlon training, wilderness excursions, social responsibility, meditation and a search for meaning
  • Exposing the psychological barriers that keep you gaming
  • It teaches the three precise types of activities to avoid boredom
  • Teaches the key mind-sets to be successful in a tech-based world
  • Gives practical advice and guidance to overcome common obstacles, beat urges and avoid relapse
  • Offers continual care through community support of recovering gamers as well as specially developed resources to assist integration back into our tech-based world

Following the success of the UK tour, Andy Leach and Cam Adair will be co-hosting a free gaming addiction webinar for parents Entitled “How to Change the Game?” on Tuesday 30th April at 7.30pm. 

The Edge is part of The Cabin Group, a revolutionary residential addiction treatment programme for young men, aged 18-26 years old, that engages participants in intense physical activity (Muay Thai, triathlon training and wilderness excursions), social responsibility and a search for meaning, whilst incorporating The Cabin’s highly successful psychotherapy model in a way that resonates with the young.

Treatment at The Edge is administered by a multi-disciplinary team of highly experienced, licensed addiction specialists. Specialised staff include highly skilled and experienced adolescent behavioural and mental health therapists, as well as onsite medical staff, fitness trainers and a nutritionist.

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