Green Crescent organized an online training event entitled the “Addiction Awareness Program” in cooperation with the Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum (ICYF). More than 100 undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students from 46 countries participated in the 2-day event, which was organized to emphasize the importance of the works of the participants, all of whom are engaged in projects as volunteers in the struggle against addiction, and of all young volunteers in this regard. The event focused on studies on Addiction Prevention, tobacco addiction and Covid-19, technology and gaming addiction, drug addiction, gambling and online gambling addiction, and Green Crescent youth and volunteering activities.
Making a presentation entitled “Technology and gaming addiction” at the event/training, Dr. Mehmet Dinç, Deputy President of Green Crescent, stated that the organization has been providing services that benefit society in terms of public health and addictions for 100 years. He said: “As Green Crescent, we consider young people to be important and active partners in our struggle against addiction, and are seeking to raise awareness about addictions among them. We have brought experts in this field together with young people for this Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum volunteers, aiming to improve their knowledge of the concept of addiction; of chemical and behavioral addiction types, especially gambling, drug and technology addiction; of the associated risks and approaches to the prevention of addictions; and of Green Crescent’s youth and volunteer works. We are very pleased to be contributing to the dissemination of protective-preventative information about addiction among young people by sharing our knowledge and experience at an international level.
Behavioral addictions effect the brain in the same way as chemical addictions
Stating that chemical addictions are what come to mind first when the subject of addiction is raised, but that the behavioral addictions cause problems that are just as serious, Dinç said: “Behavioral addictions are not widely recognized, and it is gambling that people first think of when the issue is discussed. However, with the increase of internet and game addiction over the last decade, the entire world has started to become aware of the perils of Internet and gaming addiction, nevertheless, we see that the behavioral addictions are recognized more as bad habits than as a disease, and consequently there are very few experts in this field, and no scientifically proven treatment models.”
Dinç said that the underestimation of behavioral addictions could be attributed to “popular psychology”, stating “When you open a magazine, you see such terms as “love addiction”, however, this is not a real addiction, being a term used only to attract attention. Consequently, the term addiction loses its meaning, and the dangers of Internet and gaming addictions are thus underestimated by people. Today, we observe problematic gaming and social network usage in 8 percent of young people. Studies have shown that behavioral addictions effect the brain in the same way as chemical addictions, and can cause depression, anxiety, marriage problems and even suicide.”
Children today spend less time outside than prisoners
Behavioral addictions include those related to gambling, sex, shopping, sports, work and the Internet, among which Internet addiction is considered the most dangerous, given its links to all other types of addiction. Stating that Internet addiction had increased considerably over last 5 years, Dinç said, “The problem with behavioral addictions is not people, but social life. Children now spend less time outside than prisoners, the reason being that they are busy in their daily lives, and there are limited opportunities in cities.
In this regard, the societies, cities and lifestyles that we build can be considered a cause of addiction. In terms of ease of access, financial opportunities and social acceptance, the Internet is both a more accessible and more acceptable channel when it comes to abuse than many social situations. Studies have shown that the number of active gamers will exceed 2.7 billion by 2021, and this number may increase even more due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We should remember that addictions have negative effects on cognitive, social and moral development as well as the body and one’s psychology, and we should not ignore this fact.”
Close link between online gaming addiction and gambling addiction
Stating that the problem is not the playing of games, but the addiction, Dinç said, “There is a very close link between online games and gambling. The gambling sector markets online games to get young people addicted at an early age, and addiction at an early age causes many changes in the brain that can be very difficult to change and treat. Gaming addiction can easily turn into gambling and pornography addictions. To combat this problem, it is necessary to focus on reducing the access of preschool children to the Internet and the demand for Internet among school-age children, and reducing the harmful use of the Internet among adults”
Expert talk about addiction and Green Crescent
Within the 2-day online training program, Dr. Abdullah Uçar delivered a presentation entitled “Studies on Addition Prevention”, Assoc. Prof. Hasan Volkan Kara delivered a presentation on “Tobacco Addiction and Covid-19”, Clinical Psychologist Melike Şimşek delivered a presentation on “Substance Addiction”, and Assoc. Prof. Merih Altıntaş delivered a presentation on “Gambling and Online Gambling Addiction”. Participating in the training were 102 undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students aged 18–35, all of whom are Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum volunteers, and those who completed the program were awarded with digital certificates.