(Hey, maybe this is where Ed's hiding?!)

First Rehab Center For Video Game Addicts Opens

June 9th, 2006.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Know someone addicted to video games? Here's a chance to execute a real intervention for them.

Almost anyone with a teenager may think they know this already. The head of a new Dutch detox center said video games may look innocent, but they can be as addictive as gambling or drugs -- and just as hard to kick.

An addiction center in the Netherlands is opening what's being called Europe's first detox clinic for game addicts.

Keith Bakker is opening the rehab center, Smith & Jones Addiction Consultancy, that offers in-house treatment for gamers who just can't leave the controller alone.

Bakker said he's already treated 20 people from 13 to 30 since January. And he said they suffer the traditional withdrawal symptoms from drugs or booze -- like the shakes and the sweats -- when they look at a computer.

"We knew about drugs like crack, but we couldn't find a program anywhere for kids like this," Bakker told the British Broadcasting Corp. "And we saw enormous parallels between problems with gaming and alcohol and gambling."

"There can be anxiety, panic attacks, sleep problems, dreaming about games, nightmares, shaking," said Bakker.

He told the BBC that parents shouldn't underestimate the seriousness of the issue.

He said that the addicts are often "awkward adolescents who want to escape reality." He said they lack social contact, confidence and they may be children of divorced or busy parents. He said these are the kids who just need to get out more.

He told the BBC that the treatment requires a different approach from tackling drug addiction.

"You can't do a urine test to see that they're not still gaming," he said. "And if a coke addict said they wanted to go out to a club or to see people, we'd be worried about whether they'd meet a dealer. But if a gamer said he wanted to go out for the night and meet people we'd throw a party."

The detox program that starts in July in Amsterdam will include discussion with therapists and efforts to build interest in other pursuits. The program will consist of an in-patient stay of four to eight weeks to help patients cope with game withdrawal.
Source: http://www.davesdaily.com/out.php?id=17366