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June 11, 2006

Addicted gamers detoxing in Amsterdam

Put down your joystick, and quit jiggling it back and forth so much; it disturbs your mother.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- An addiction center is opening Europe's first detox clinic for video game addicts, offering in-house treatment for people who can't leave their joysticks alone.

They have nicotine gum for those addicted to cigarettes; I wonder what those poor joysticks addicts do instead?

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.

In other words, the same symptoms that Dave in Texas experiences when both ace and rightwingsparkle have guest bloggers simultaneously.

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.

Those Game Boys are the gateway drug to a lifetime of addiction. Soon you need to beat harder and harder levels to get the same high. You need to build bigger and better houses for your Sims; one TV and one bathroom is no longer enough. You need the Expansion Packs just to keep the shakes away.

In short, your whole life is spent looking for that first high you got when you were 6 and playing your first round of Tetris by the fireplace at Christmas.

Tim, a gamer who is under treatment, agreed to discuss his addiction on condition that his last name not being used. He said he began playing video games three years ago at age 18. Soon, he wouldn't leave his room for dinner. Later, he began taking drugs to stay awake and play longer. Finally, he sought help and picked up other hobbies to occupy his time.

Soon thereafter, he became a knitting addict. "Just one more row," he'd say. But soon, the one row would turn into the arm of a sweater and before he knew it, there would be another new, completed sweater in his closet.

"If it's not Grand Theft Auto or knitting, it'll be cross-stich. I just can't stop," he said.


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