"Detox" for game junkies

By grandbaby · Jun 10, 2006 · ·
  1. grandbaby
    From http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060609.wdetox0609/BNStory/Entertainment/home

    Addiction centre to open video game detox clinic
    Associated Press

    AMSTERDAM — An addiction centre is 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, said 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.

    His detox program begins in July. It will run four to eight weeks, including discussions with therapists and efforts to build patients' interests in alternative activities.

    “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.

    Bakker said he has seen signs of addiction in children as young as eight.

    Hyke van der Heijden, 28, a graduate of the Amsterdam program, started playing video games 20 years ago. By the time he was in college he was gaming about 14 hours a day and using drugs to play longer.

    “For me, one joint would never be enough, or five minutes of gaming would never be enough,” he said. “I would just keep going until I crashed out.”

    Van der Heijden first went to Smith & Jones for drug addiction in October, 2005, but realized the gaming was the real problem. Since undergoing treatment, he has distanced himself from his smoking and gaming friends. He says he has been drug- and game-free for eight months.

    Like other addicts, Bakker said, gamers are often trying to escape personal problems. When they play, their brains produce endorphins, giving them a high similar to that experienced by gamblers or drug addicts. Gamers' responses to questions even mirror those of alcoholics and gamblers when asked about use.

    “Many of these kids believe that when they sit down, they're going to play two games and then do their homework,” he said.

    However, unlike other addicts, most gamers received their first game from their parents. “Because it's so new, parents don't see that this is something that can be dangerous,” Bakker said.

    Tim, a gamer who is under treatment, agreed to discuss his addiction on condition that his last name not being used. He said he began playing video games three years ago at age 18. Soon, he wouldn't leave his room for dinner. Later, he began taking drugs to stay awake and play longer. Finally, he sought help and picked up other hobbies to occupy his time.

    Symptoms of addiction are easy to spot, Bakker says. Parents should take notice if a child neglects usual activities, spends several hours at a time with the computer and has no social life.

    Bakker said parents of game addicts frequently echo the words of partners of cocaine addicts: “‘I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what it was.'”

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  1. IHrtHalucingens
    lol wtf rehab for video games? Come on people get off your lazy ass and go outside and get some excersize once in a while. Experience real life. Video games are fun and all but i cant see how you can get physical withdrawals from an action not a substance.
  2. Alicia
    No its serious.. even now my arm is shaking gettin sweats ... need Doom 3... need ... tetras.... lol i am jokin..
  3. 788.4
    I don't think is article is making claims of physical withdrawls. The word is "detox" is in quotes for a reason.

    That being said I can certainlly attest to the destruction of online video games (as well as other online activities) for certain people.

    When I was the hospital (a psychiatric ward) one of my roomates was playing Counter Strike in excess extreme excess (up to 18 hours a day). He was also in a real life gang though, so he did have a social life (and according to his testimony an extremly active sex life). However excessive online activity was a huge problem for him.

    In one of my therapy groups there is a kid who isolated himself while at college playing World of Warcraft. Before he hand underlying anxiety and some socialization issues, but this behavior made it much worse. He failed three semesters and is now burned by anxiety, depression, and overwhelming debt.

    I had a huge problem with Everquest and Diablo II. It made my anxiety and manic-depression much more difficult to deal with outside the context of an online fantasy world. I knew of similar online game problems, and right now only 2 of them seems to be doing okay. In both cases this was largely a result of the parents limiting their kids access to computers (one got moved to private school, the other got his computer taken away). Online gaming was part of the environment that made me the way I am, but it alone did not cause all the problems in my life. Today I don't really enjoy video games.

    Online video games allow people to isolate themselves more easily, by providing a fun, but incredibly time consuming activity that can be done alone, without real life socialization. For children who are already at risk for isolation and other problems such as depression, these games can make things much much worse.

    By no means should this be grounds to ban these video games. However the online game industry has an obligation to limit the sale of certain games to minors and make parents away of the risks associated with them. Parents really need to understand the importance of monitoring their child's online behavior.

    Online gaming is extremly popular in places like urban China and South Korea. They probably are experiencing similar problems with their children.
  4. IHrtHalucingens
    "Some show withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking and sweating, when they look at a computer."

    I was interpreting this a a physical withdrawal. SWIM used to have a dealer who played counter strike like 24/7. Every time SWIM would call him he would be in his appartment playing counter strike, SWIM would stroll by and he would stop playing just long enough to weigh out a bag and collect money. Than back to the game.

    I see it as more of an obsession than an addiction.
  5. Alicia
    Take final fantasy 7 for example...
  6. 788.4
    I must have skipped over that part.

    I do think that for people who play online games experience adrenaline rushes (the game is percieved by these parts of the brain as being real events), and when the game becomes a major source of pleasure, neurotransmitters would be released as a reaction to playing it. This conditions peopleleto take pleasure in online video games and not in real life events.

    Over a long period of time people may develope accute sensitivies to real life events, hence the link between excessive online activity and social anxiety.

    However tring to make a comparison to the physical withdrawl of heroin takes things a little too far.
  7. IHrtHalucingens
    Agreed. I was thinking along those same lines!
  8. KorSare
    It seems to me that online multiplayer RPG type games have a greater addictive potential, than say, Mario-Kart.

    I think the main reason that people get addicted to certain games, is the feeling of power it bestows upon them. Hiding who you really are under an alias, and developing a different personality online - it gives people a window of opportunity to become a figurehead of sorts... whether it's the ability to aim a crosshair at an opponent's head, or the time and effort put into leveling a fireball spell up to 99.... well, it enables people to take position of power and admiration - presumably the ones who become addicted to these games, lack this familiarity in reality.

    As IHrtHalucingens said, "Come on people get off your lazy ass and go outside and get some excersize once in a while. Experience real life."

    But perhaps these circumstances predate their game addiction. I'm sure we all remember the stereotypical fat geek kid that people picked on in high school. Perhaps video games were his escape from reality? Perhaps "real life" was so shitty, that he would rather live a life online, than deal with some of the crap that reality can throw at you.

    A solution? yes. Healthy? probably not. Socially degrading? A distinct possibility. A problem? Well, if social degradation does indeed happen, then I would have to vote yes.

    As for the withdrawal symptoms that the article describes, yes, they do sound far fetched... but who knows how seriously some people take these computer games. I've read articles written about players who commit suicide because of events that take place in their reality of cyberspace. If users become so immersed in these games, and their emotions based upon their addiction become so strong to the point that they're willing to take their own lives... well, who knows what other mental and physical symptoms could arise from it.

    It's easy to laugh and call these people geeks, but sometimes we're a little too quick to throw away what deviates from "acceptable addictions" - if I may call it that. It's possible to get sucked into anything that gives you a feeling of power, or pleasure, or an adrenaline rush, whether it be narcotics, gambling, computer games, sex, compulsive shopping, etc etc etc.
  9. Nagognog2
    Next up: A detox-center for fat women who live in trailer-parks and watch soap-operas on TV all day. As The Stomach Turns.

    They will be forced to eat salads and watch the news. The Horror!
  10. IHrtHalucingens
    "It seems to me that online multiplayer RPG type games have a greater addictive potential, than say, Mario-Kart."

    lol funny you should say that, Mario Kart is the only video game i ever play, although not that often and im definately not addicted to it, but its the only game i like playing. Not to mention im fuckin awesome at it =)
  11. StigmataLectron
    Wow. Fucking losers.
  12. ntcrawler
    Wow, to see people on this board mock people with REAL problems is pretty disheartening. I don't think i really have to go in to the reasonings of why people get addicted because i think it's already been said.

    Some people do have a problem and if SWIM didn't start doing drugs he would of probably been a very good candidate for this clinic.
  13. Alicia
    Oh boo who! Real problems with addiction are wear people need limbs amputated, as they shot up far to many times cant find a vein as they are all infected.. The fact that some people need constantly even thou they know its killing them a line of cocaine just to feel normal. Or even people who eat to much to the point where it is serious.

    Im not saying you cant get addicted to various forms of pleasure but yeah it may consume your life playing games but so what its safer in someways then other things out there that kill.
  14. ntcrawler
    So what your saying is these people shouldn't get help because they are not sprawled out on the floor in there own vomit? It's just as dangerous considering some have played to there deaths and played until even until they're childs death. I think thats reason enough to give people treatment if they feel they need it.
  15. Alicia
    Point taken.

    The ones i've come across like this that have played there lives away supposedly, a lot of them have simply "chosen" to do this. Im not saying its not destructive. dont get me wrong ;).

    but comparing to other addictions. and how bad they mess people up, these are people who were able to make "choices" in the beginning before ending up losing,family, career, and ultimately there lifes.

    im sorry i find this hole thread rather comical. I mean if this is the case for gamers this could easily happen to people that watch tv everyday all day long. maybe that can be an addiction as well, or maybe if theres someone that reads book every minute of everyday ( silly example that one) but you know what I mean right.
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