The UK's first rehab centre for gaming addiction has opened in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Broadway Lodge treats around 400 patients annually for issues including, drink, drug and gambling addiction, and has adapted its Minnesota Method Twelve-Step abstinence programme for gamers.
"Obviously this is the very early stages of researching how many youngsters are affected," Brian Dudley, the centre's chief executive, told the Telegraph. "But I would stick my neck out and say between five and ten per cent of parents or partners would say they know of someone addicted to an online game.
"... You can't simply say to a 23-year-old male 'you should never use the internet again'. It's just not practical. So we go through all the issues surrounding gaming use and ensure there are triggers through which an addict recognises their usage has become a problem."
Broadway Lodge counsellor Peter Smith added: "It's not unusual for people to get so obsessed with online gaming that they forget to eat and drift towards an anorexic and undernourished state. You have a relationship with characters in the game that give you an artificial feeling, created by your body's natural endorphins, when you have killed some monster or solved a problem."
The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association denied that playing online games could lead to addiction.
"Playing videogames is becoming increasingly mainstream in the UK and we firmly believe in the positive impact playing games can have," said director general Michael Rawlinson.
In April, the US Entertainment Software Association challenged an Iowa State University study which found that 8.5 per cent of American gamers aged 8-18 showed multiple signs of addiction. The following month, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney found that one in 12 gamers had an addiction to playing.
Article supplied by Edge-Online: 'Britain's First Gaming Addiction Clinic Opens'