Sunday , May 16 2021

The Rehabilitation Center, which treats addiction to video games as if it were cocaine

This clinic caters for patients with mental health problems, including addiction to computers and smartphones

I'm in the most intense group therapy I was sitting in. This is a "round of experience exchange" of 20 people. Everyone, except the wizard who runs the session, is at least five years younger than me and they are here because they try restore life of those who have lost control.

By sharing with the group the worst they have done, they hope to change it.

One of the group members, Eva *, 19, reads a list of all time his behavior is detrimental to the people who are the most want,

"One: I told my parents a few months ago that I do not want them," he says madly. "I hurt them a lot when I said that.

"Two: Last year I called this friend to my friend I wanted to commit suicide".

The list goes on and on. Eve recites many things she believes she has done wrong: she hides her feelings, she is a perfectionist and lacks self-discipline, she says. He does not confuse his teeth. It does not make a sport. Sometimes not a soul.

I am surprised by Eve's honesty and, at the end of her speech, I begin to feel sorry for her,

Kira, the counselor who runs the session, goes into the circle.

"Who has a comment?" He says. "Ethan *".

Ethan, a 17-year-old boy in tight jeans, turned to Eve. I wonder if he will offer you some words of support.

Form of the patient

BBC Three / Tomasz Frymorgen
Video games Minecraft, World of Warcraft or Battlefield are the most famous.

"I am tempted to say something obviously like" Good interference or whatever, "says Ethan, disappearing his hair from his face." But what are the consequences of your perfectionism? It's a bad thing if you accept it in the end, but did you really do it? Was your life unmanageable?

"I think," Eva said cautiously. Her legs intersect under the chair and she looks from person to person. Twenty pairs of eyes were silent in their eyes.

Kira looks around, squats. "What feelings do you think is based on?"He asks the room.

There is a pause. Then another teenager, Thomas, breaks the silence.

– I think your perfectionism is connected in that you are a victimYou do not realize you made mistakes, so instead you play the role of a victim.

me the phone vibrates loudlyI remember I did not look at him in an hour and I must consciously suppress the impulse to look at him. I keep my breath anxious as I look at Eve.

At first I think she's upset. My phone vibrates again. I take it out of my pocket without thinking, and immediately put it back in its place.

But Eve does not cry. She does not say anything at all. The room looks at her silently. I begin to suspect she is not upset at all: she is really furious.

Kira turns to the group.

– Who feels? self-tapping? "He says.

The room burst into a "safe" and "absolute" choir.

"Do you want to change?Kira Eva asked.

"Yes, I want to change," says Eva with annoying indignation in her voice.

"Do you know that there was an attempt to pay attention to your behavior?" – said Kirra to Eva.

The silence passes through the room.

"Not yet," Eva said in a low voice. – But I'll learn.

Yes, we can do the clinic

BBC Three / Tomasz Frymorgen
The treatment costs about $ 64,000.

Two hours ago, I arrived at Yes We Can, a mental health center located on a long tree-lined avenue in a quiet corner of a city in the southern part of the Netherlands. When my taxi approached its impressive black doors, the trees surrounded a large estate with large, well-maintained playgrounds.

This virgin mansion could be made of pixel blocks in video games Minecraft; or provide a stage for the level of the saga hitman,

This clinic is intended only for people between the ages of 13 and 25 in the world who receive specialized treatment for mental health problems, including addiction to computers and smartphones and other behavioral problems that the medical community does not know how to classify. less deal.

Many people who visit say they are addicted to them SMARtphones, social networks or video games.

For the first time this year, the World Health Organization officially included this June addiction to video games in the International Classification of Diseases (CIE).

It can be said that the treatment program at this clinic goes further: it puts videogames in a tie with the harm caused by drugs, alcohol and gambling, and requires those who finish 10 week program abstain from everything else in your life.

The debate about whether smartphones and video games are addictive is almost everywhere as they exist.

This is a topic that founder Jan Wilem Pot, 42, believes he grows strong. He founded the clinic in 2010 to fill what he perceived as a market failure and thus created a Dutch mental health center that offers personalized treatment for young people.

"I was inspired by the slogan of Barack Obama's campaign"He says he smiles.

Jan Willem Poet

BBC Three / Tomasz Frymorgen
Jan Willem Pot is inspired by Obama's campaign for the name of his clinic: Yes we can.

It's pure enthusiasm. I think this is a striking contrast to the way your life was supposed to be during your adolescence, when I swallowed up to eight grams of cocaine a day.

Pure of drugs and alcohol since 2004, Wilem founded the clinic to help young people overcome their mental problems. It was therefore a surprise for him when the first young people who arrived at the clinic often said they were hanging on the popular Call of Duty video game, not cocaine.

"Every week we walk in the woods," Willem said with wide eyes. "And we had several kids who said," It looks just like in the game World of Warcraft "or Battlefield, or whatever. They imagined that there was an enemy behind every tree or stone, or that there was a complete army behind every hill.

In this retreat in the middle of the forest, the first group of activities of the day is the road through the tops of the trees. Thomas, who had named Eve as a victim, did not like it.

– It's so unstable!

This is the day before his twenty-year birthday. They connect it with a safety belt and stop it in the middle of the ladder in the forest.

– I can not do it! I hate the heights,

Thomas begins to tear the tears. It is approximately six meters from the ground, two steps from the platform in the trees. This is not far, but does not want to cross.

"You can do it, Thomas!" James calls from London.

Thomas descends the stairs and rubs his face. I'm approaching him. He is breathing heavily and his cheeks red. I ask him why he came here.

"Especially addictive to the game," he says, dealing with climbing. "But also because of eating disorder and maybe addiction to porn, well, that's still in the debate."

Thomas is at his sixth week at the clinic. The hardest thing he has done since his arrival is to wipe his video game bills.

"I was sweating and crying when I did it," he says. "Although it was a problem, I still have good memories of the scene, playing video games and the people I met."

Over the past six weeks, Thomas has learned enjoy outdoor activities, something I rarely experienced when I played 16 hours a day.

I am impressed by Thomas, who seems to be attentive, realizing himself, strong and vulnerable at the same time. At a time when many other 19-year-olds face their first years away from home, drinking and celebrating too much, they have a future they could not imagine a year ago.

I wonder when Thomas takes the microphone and performs the perfect rendition of Rag God to Eminem: a six-minute 1500-word report in which there are some of the rapper's fastest verses.

The other children cheered him constantly.

Patient in the forest

BBC Three / Tomasz Frymorgen
The program for young people aged between 13 and 25 lasts for 10 weeks.

There is something about karaoke that seems odd for reasons I do not immediately understand.

Then I realize this is obvious: this is a group of teenagers and twenty-year-olds who are completely sober, singing in a tent in a wide light. At that time they look younger than them.

as young people from wealthy families who can afford private treatment, those who receive scholarships from abroad are somewhat lucky. People with disabilities are at increased risk of developing mental health problems and have fewer treatment options.

The price is around $ 64,000,

There is increasing evidence that young people from all walks of life in the West are confronted crisis in mental health,

In recent years, there has been severe increase in anxiety and depressive disorders,

According to a study by the Institute of Educational Policy in London, the number of visits to the UK's mental health services increased by 26% over the past five years.

The child plays

Garlic / Getty
Addiction to video games has not stopped growing in recent years.

Jean-Tuen suspects that he may have a common denominator. In her book iGen, the psychology teacher claims that the behavior and emotional states of adolescents have undergone a dramatic change after 2012.

This year, he writes, is also the time when the share of Americans holding a super smart phoneor 50%,

Young people are "on the brink of the worst crisis in mental health in decades, "he writes,[y] Much of this worsening can be attributed to their phones. "

Twenge has established a link between increasing the use of smartphones and increasing depression and loneliness among young people.

He also explains that since 2007, when the iPhone started, young Americans have experienced a decline in socialization, dating, and sex.

Teenagers have more free time than ever, he writes. "What are you doing all the time?" They watch their phones in their rooms, alone and often in trouble.

Stairs from the center

BBC Three / Tomasz Frymorgen
Some children at the center admit that they spent up to 16 hours a day.

Not everyone, however, agrees. Dr Pete Etels, a professor of psychology at the University of Bath in Bath, UK, says Jeanne Touen's book connection between smartphones and depression, but not what causes the other.

He warns us that we risk treating a behavior that is not recognized as a mental health problem.


Research addictive to computer or smartphone, social networks and mess caused by video games are still in preliminary stages of training.

"In the case of cocaine or heroin consumption, we clearly see what damage they are causing," he says.

"Studies on addiction to video games, however, do not do a good job of distinguishing between people who are very involved, but do not suffer from problems and people are becoming problematic."


BBC Three / Tomasz Frymorgen

I wonder if Dr. Ethelles is right? There may be a risk of overdose. At this visit I met many young people with various serious problems. Are they "sick enough"? So, how do you know if someone is "sick enough"?

And then I sat down to question Ethan, who was in the clinic for almost 10 weeks. He is friendly and charismatic, very different, he says, to the man he was when he arrived.

"I was afraid of all," he says.

Ethan talks to me with the honest honesty of everyone I know there. He tells me what he did on his day before he came to this clinic.

"I woke up at six in the afternoon," he says. "I stayed awake at night, More convenient. Less people around. When my parents sleep, I went downstairs and ate something.

What happened when your parents found you?

"Very simple," he says. – I ignored them.

Serious trauma from childhood

My phone vibrates again. I feel like an avalanche of WhatsApp messages that come to me. For a moment I am completely distracted. I consciously turned my attention to Ethan.

Ethan spent much time in his room. I had panic attacks. He hurt himself. He was a junkie with "everything that fell into my hands" and played video games all night. 15, he left school,

"I thought I was screwed up for life," he says.

At first, Eaton's behavior did not make sense to him. His parents were kind, he said, but they did not know what to do with him.

It was later discovered that Ethan was hiding one of them: he had suffered severe childhood trauma.

One of the patients in the center

BBC Three / Tomasz Frymorgen
Dropping out of school is common for video game addicts

The interview is over. Ethan goes out of the room. It seems to me that even though the people I met were extremely open to their behavior until my meeting with Ethan knew much about their origins.

Jan Willem comes in with his phone in his hand. I check my own phone and feel a mixture of disappointment and inconvenience when I see a blank screen. I imagined the vibrations. I am a thousand years old deceived without friends.

Is it a pleasure to receive a notification for my cell phone?I ask. Jan Willem smiles.

"Yes, of course," he says.

Is this a sign of addiction? How do you protect children from this? I am asking.

"Sometimes we advise children to leave social networks," says Jan Wilem. "But we never advise absolute abstinence from them."

WhatsApp and social networks

"Because there, in the world, they will need their phones and laptops. I have a Facebook profile and a LinkedIn account that I use mainly for my business. And it's true that I'm a junkie. But it is also true that I must use them. "

I have my own phone in my hand because I use the built-in recorder to record the conversation. The screen lights up. This is a notification and I know that I urgently need to open it.

Does that make me a junkie? I'm hooked WhatsApp? If I did not want to work, could I spend a few hours to send snappers to Snapath? And can I transfer this to gaming, alcohol, drugs?

I look at Jan Willem and try to imagine a life I consume eight grams of cocaine a day.

*Some names are changed.

You can read the original English story here,

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