(NaturalNews) Definitely a first of its kind, a new Pennsylvania hospital is organizing an inpatient treatment program for people who suffer from severe Internet addiction. Opening September 9th, the 10 day rehab program will launch from the Behavioral Health Services at Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania. Professionals and cognitive specialists have been analyzing gaming addictions for over a decade and believe many Internet gaming addicts show similar behaviors to alcohol and drug addicts.
"Internet addiction is a problem in this country that can be more pervasive than alcoholism," said Dr. Kimberly Young, psychologist and founder of the 10 day rehab program.
Patients are required to take part in group therapy that includes psychological evaluations and finding ways to minimally use the Internet to avoid abuse. The program has an out of pocket cost of $14,000.
44 year old man writes about his Internet addiction recovery
A 44 year old man named Kevin Roberts testifies to his own gaming addiction. Ten years ago, Roberts could be found glued to his computer screen, playing video games 8 to 12 hours a day. One of Roberts' friends, who had been through sessions of Alcoholics Anonymous, told Roberts that his behaviors were reminiscent of an addict and that group therapy intervention might be needed.
After seeking help, Roberts feels more normal than he did 10 years ago. After years of group therapy and spiritual retreats, Roberts unplugged himself from digital addictions and woke up to his own reality. "Like most addicts, I went through a series of self deception," Roberts said. His struggles are documented in his new book, Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap.
Psychologist offers group therapy, "digital detox"
Looking to help people like Roberts, Psychologist Dr. Kimberly Young believes that her program will help those whose lives are "spiraling out of control" because of Internet obsessions. "These individuals have been stripped from their ability to function in daily life and have tried in the past to stop, but cannot," Young states.
Dr. Young's passion dates all the way back to 1996, when she presented her first paper on Internet addictions in front of the American Psychological Association. On her netaddiction.com site, she offers resources to help those with online gaming, internet gambling, cyber porn, online affairs and even ebay addiction.
During her new rehab plan, patients undergo a very important "digital detox." During this 72 hour cutoff time from the Internet, addicts may show withdrawal behaviors. Young said one of her patients went into a fit and started chewing up Styrofoam cups and unloading punches into the wall.
Why formal diagnosis "branding" and a drug regimen won't do any good
Medical director of the program, Dr. Roger Laroche, says, "Most people with a severe Internet addiction have some type of undiagnosed psychiatric disorder or personality problem."
The new psychiatrists manual, the DSM-5, released earlier this May, lists "Gaming Disorder" for the first time. In Section III of the manual, it reads that more research is to be conducted before it is formally identified as a disorder. The American Psychiatric Association, who publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, believes it has evidence that "certain pathways in [gaming addict's] brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict's brain is affected by the substance."
Pharmaceutical companies may be salivating at this diagnosis opportunity. If Internet gaming addiction diagnoses can be made, then the pharmaceutical industry may come up with another line of psychotic drugs to counter addict people to.
Dr. Allen Frances, the chairman of the DSM-5, is a strong critic against expanding addictions to include Internet gaming. He questions, "Where do you draw the line at addiction and recreational use? If we can be addicted to gambling and the Internet, why not also include addiction to shopping, exercise, sex, work, golf, sunbathing, model railroading, you name it?"
A formal diagnosis "branding" and a drug regimen is definitely the destructive route to take. Addicts don't need to be labeled and they don't need to be addicted to a pill to counter their addiction to a screen.
Helping people with addictive behaviors through group therapy and counseling is the right way to move forward.
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