Amsterdam game-addiction clinic opens

Addiction consultancy opened the game-centric ward in response to what it said is a growing number of people affected; claims one-fifth of all gamers can become addicted.


The Amsterdam clinic that was announced last month to treat cases of video game addiction has opened and is ready for business, according to the BBC.

The clinic is run by Smith and Jones Addiction Consultancy, which operates other centers in Europe, including those dedicated to illegal drugs, eating disorders, and gambling. Keith Bakker, an addiction consultant at the Netherlands-based center, said so many people with game-related problems were entering the consultancy's other programs, Smith and Jones decided a game-focused program was necessary.

"They kept on coming in so we started taking it more and more seriously," Bakker told the BBC.

The eight-week-long program involves taking away video games from the patients before starting therapy sessions with psychologists and groups. The clinic houses eight beds.

The consultancy said that "20 percent of all gamers can develop a dependency on gaming." "Many of these people have gotten to the point that they can't live with gaming and they can't live without it," according to the center's Web site.

Among the symptoms of the addiction, according to Smith and Jones, are obsessive thinking, "attempts to control, loss of control, health complications, damage to personal relationships, [and] the progression of the illness."

The BBC cited one gamer in particular at the clinic with bizarre gaming-related habits: "Tim," a 21-year-old used to spending 17 hours a day playing games, was so adhered to his games he wouldn't move to use the restroom. "I take an empty bottle and I pee into it," he said.

Although the clinic is the "first of its kind" in Europe, according to the BBC, similar health-care facilities are no strangers to Asia. Last year, the Chinese government opened a clinic to treat addiction to video games and the Internet.

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