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A detox clinic for gaming addicts

An addiction centre in Netherland is reportedly opening Europe's first detoxification clinic for video game addicts, offering in-house treatment for people who cannot seem to be able to leave their joysticks alone.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2006 16:53 IST

An addiction centre is reportedly opening Europe's first detox clinic for video game addicts, offering in-house treatment for people who can't leave their joysticks alone.

Video games may look innocent, but they can be as addictive as gambling or drugs - and just as hard to kick, says Keith Bakker, director of Amsterdam-based Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants.

Bakker already has treated 20 video game addicts, aged 13 to 30, since January. Some show withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking and sweating, when they look at a computer console.

His detox programme begins in July. It will run four to eight weeks, and will include therapy sessions, wilderness excursions, healthy lifestyle workshops and possibly medication.

Research into video gaming is still in its infancy, and researchers haven't agreed on how to define addiction. But many experts say it's clear many of the young people who show dependency on video games are in trouble.

"We have kids who don't know how to communicate with people face-to-face because they've spent the last three years talking to somebody in Korea through a computer," Bakker said. "Their social network has completely disappeared."

It can start with a Game Boy, perhaps given by parents hoping to keep their children occupied but away from the television.

From there, it can progress to multi-level games that aren't made to be won.