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Dutch Mental Health Facility Treats Gaming Addiction in Teens

The Yes We Can mental health facility takes an intense approach to treating gaming addiction and other issues in teens and young adults, as revealed in a report from the BBC on Thursday.

The Netherlands’ facility treats those ages 13 to 25 for difficult to classify mental health issues such as addiction to smartphones and social media, as well as drug and alcohol addiction.

This summer, the World Health Organization proposed the addition of “gaming disorder” to the International Classification of Diseases, meaning video game addiction could be officially in the ICD when it passes in May of 2019.

What this could mean is treatment will be offered more widely for this form of addiction. For now, the treatment of gaming addiction seems to be a, relative to other addictions, niche offering. The way Yes We Can treats gaming addiction is similar to drug and alcohol addiction, according to Ben Bryant’s BBC article.

“The clinic takes the view that addiction is a disease, and that addicts will often swap one addiction for another – meaning they have to give up all other addictive substances for good,” Bryant wrote. “Other 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous consider this to mean drugs and alcohol – but here the definition has been expanded to include gaming. Upon completion of the program, screen use – laptops, phones, and social media – is permitted, but has to be monitored.”

For Dutch citizens, treatment at Yes We Can is funded by the state for minors, and those over 18 without insurance must pay a contribution in line with their income. For those who aren’t from the Netherlands, the treatment at the facility has a price tag of £50,000 for the 10-week program — or more than $64,000 USD. The biggest international customer base for the clinic is the UK.

Fellows in the program (they are not called “patients”) have a set schedule consisting of exercise, outdoor time, group activities, and two daily “sharing meetings.”

The goal for the program is that the fellows will abstain from playing video games for the rest of their lives.

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