The first in-patient clinic for video game addicts in Europe is due to open next month, according to a report by the BBC News website.
The Smith and Jones addiction consultancy in Amsterdam has set up an eight-bed residential unit, set up to accommodate patients for between four to eight weeks. The consultancy already sees around a dozen outpatients each month, for those suffering from both a drug and video game addiction – although the new clinic will deal only with the latter issue.
According to the consultancy’s director Keith Bakker, talking to BBC News: “There were 15 year olds being brought to us who were showing the same behavior as 50 year old gambling addicts.” Bakker claims that the addicts are almost always young men who “want to escape reality”, and he warns parents not to underestimate the seriousness of the problem.
“This can get totally out of control. These games can be designed to keep the players going, there's no pay-off, it's like climbing a mountain with no top. They're not in their rooms playing games about collecting flowers. They're up there for 18 hours a day playing computer games about killing people."
The concept of a clinic for game addiction has previously been tried elsewhere in the world, with a July 2005 report
referencing the first officially licensed clinic for Internet and video game addiction being established in China.
In that case, the Chinese clinic has established a standard diagnostic test to determine whether someone is addicted, then uses a combination of therapy sessions, medication, acupuncture and sports like swimming and basketball to "ease patients back into normal lives", but the definition of addiction and the means of treatment are still ill-defined for game addiction clinics, whether in Asia or the West.