Video Game Detox Center Opens for Addicts

Dennis Faas's picture

Video game addiction is "very much like gambling" and its symptoms are "no less severe than that of a drug addict or alcoholic."

It can even lead to death.

Smith & Jones, an addiction center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, has put together the world's first treatment program for "problem gamers." (Source:

The Netherlands rehab facility has been treating game addicts since January, but the official detox program will begin in July. It will last from four to eight weeks. (Source:

Therapists will attempt to "replace fantasy excitement" by introducing "high-adrenaline" activities that "provide the thrill of real life situations." (Source:

Keith Bakker, the director of Smith & Jones, has seen kids as young as 8 who are obsessed with video games. Because game addiction is such a new concept, Bakker explained that "parents don't see that this is something that can be dangerous."

In some cases, one of the dangers is illegal drug use.

Hyke van der Heijden, now 28, began experimenting with drugs in college to extend his 14-hour-a-day gaming sessions. He entered Smith & Jones last October to deal with his drug problem, only to discover that his real issue was with video game addiction. He has since graduated from the program. Tim, 21, also turned drugs to extend his playtime. He is now receiving treatment.

What are the symptoms to look for? According to Bakker, parents should be alarmed if children desert their usual activities, play on the computer for hours, and don't have a social life. (Source:

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