When internet use, shopping and gambling become addictions

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Symbol image about gambling addiction on the internet. Copyright: ’Karin K

Symbol image about gambling addiction on the internet. Copyright: ’Karin Kaiser / MHH’.

New outpatient treatment offer at the MHH for non-substance-related addictions

16. April 2021

An addiction without drugs like alcohol or cocaine - non-substance-related or behavioural addictions, as they are also called, are playing an increasingly important role in society. Especially during the current pandemic, an increase in the prevalence of non-substance-related addictions can be observed. At the Centre for Mental Health of the Hannover Medical School (MHH), there is a new offer for outpatient group therapies for the treatment of computer and video game addiction as well as gambling addiction. An offer for the treatment of shopping addiction has already existed for ten years.

"Computer and video game addiction refers to the derailed use of online games over which those affected increasingly lose control. School, work and social contacts are neglected in favour of excessive online gaming," reports Astrid Müller, head of the working group for substance-free addiction disorders at the Clinic for Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy. Gambling on slot machines, poker or sports betting are also widespread in the population and have a high addiction potential. "Men aged 14 to 30 in particular have an increased risk of developing a dependency. But only a minority of those affected seek therapeutic help," explains private lecturer Dr. Alexander Glahn, head of the research group "Dependence Diseases" as well as the addiction outpatient clinic of the psychiatric institute outpatient clinic.

Early treatment increases chances of success

With their low-threshold therapy offer, the MHH experts want to reach those affected at an early stage of addiction and thus create favourable conditions for successful treatment. People with computer and video game addiction or shopping addiction can contact the psychosomatic outpatient clinic and make an appointment. People with "gambling addiction" can present themselves - with a referral from their family doctor - at the psychiatric outpatient clinic on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 9 and 11 am without making an appointment.

In the group therapies, among other things, strategies for self-control and reduction of behavioural excesses are built up, but it is also about dealing with relapses or building up alternative leisure activities.

The offer of outpatient group therapy for the treatment of shopping addiction has already existed at the Clinic for Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy since 2012. "The purchased goods are concealed, hidden, excused, not unpacked or hoarded," explains Professor Müller. "The buying habits are concealed or played down for a long time, but over time lead to considerable psychological, social and not least financial problems." The therapy consists - as in the case of computer and gambling addiction - of twelve group sessions, the treatment lasts about four months in total. The groups comprise between six and eight patients.

Registration for diagnosis and treatment of shopping addiction or computer and video game addiction is possible via the special consultation hours of the psychosomatic outpatient clinic, secretary Christina Bartels, telephone (0511)-532-3136.

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