AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - An addiction center is opening Europe's first detox clinic for 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.
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 multilevel games that aren't made to be won